WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says it’s preparing to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for the military.
Spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Pentagon officials are preparing to issue guidance to require vaccination now that the Pfizer vaccine has been given full approval. He did not give a timeline on when that guidance would be issued.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo that he would “seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” licensure by the Food and Drug Administration — “whichever comes first.”
Austin said in the memo to troops that he would not “hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so.”
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Lockdowns or vaccines? 3 Pacific nations try diverging paths
— U.S. mask, vaccine conflicts descend into violence and harassment
— Pandemic fiction: Fall books include stories of the virus
— The Rev. Jesse Jackson, wife Jacqueline, hospitalized for COVID
— Hurricane Henri thwarts Central Park concert hailing NYC virus rebound
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
NEW YORK — All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Officials announced the new policy Monday as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month.
The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first flat-out vaccination mandate for city workers in the nation’s most populous city.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — North Macedonia’s prime minister is urging people who have not been immunized against COVID-19 to ignore anti-vaccine movements, as an infection surge has forced authorities to reopen field hospitals.
Zoran Zaev told a press conference Monday that a new awareness campaign would focus on refuting fake news on the pandemic.
Authorities say more than a third of the country’s 2 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Last week, Zaev’s government banned access for non-vaccinated people to shopping malls, bars, restaurants, concerts and seminars.
That prompted small protests in the capital, Skopje, and other cities — where many hospitals have filled up with COVID-19 patients, leading to the reopening of emergency field hospitals.
In total, North Macedonia has recorded over 168,000 infections and nearly 5,700 deaths.
CAIRO — Egypt’s health Minister says Monday they have detected the country’s first case of the alarming coronavirus delta variant last month.
Health Minister Hala Zayed told a news conference in Cairo that the first case of delta variant was for a 35-year-old Egyptian woman that showed “very mild” symptoms and did not require hospitalization.
Zayed said authorities have recently detected others cases of the contagious delta variant but none required hospitalization.
Egypt has recorded more than 286,350 cases so far in the pandemic, including 16,671 deaths. The actual figures are believed to be much higher, given limited testing.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said “everything points at no new nationwide shutdown will be necessary” because of the high number of people vaccinated in Denmark.
“We stand in a good spot,” Frederiksen said, adding that the nearly 70% of Denmark’s population of nearly 6 million have been vaccinated. Getting the shot in Denmark is voluntary and is available to people aged 12 years and older free of charge.
Frederiksen called the vaccine “the super weapon above them all” and urged all non-vaccinated people to get the shots, chiefly by Pfizer and Moderna.
“We are now heading toward an epidemic among those who have not been vaccinated,” said Health Minister Magnus Heunicke.
According to official figures, 80% of those hospitalized are have not been vaccinated.
Heunicke said that the plan is for all Danes to receive a third vaccine injection. However, it was not decided when the booster shot would be given.
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, has begun a tightened lockdown to battle the coronavirus, a day ahead of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the capital, Hanoi.
Police and army troops have mobilized to enforce the lockdown and deliver food and supplies to households. People in “high risk” districts must stay home under the stricter measures, imposed for at least two weeks.
The Health Ministry on Sunday reported 737 virus-related deaths, its highest single-day total. That raises the death toll since the pandemic began to 8,277. Hanoi is also under lockdown.
The U.S. has been Vietnam’s largest donor of vaccines, sending 5 million doses of Moderna. Separately, Vietnam has signed commercial agreements with U.S. vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer to secure at least 80 million doses.
Last year Vietnam was praised for keeping the virus in check, an accomplishment generally attributed to the discipline of being a single-party communist state with tight controls at all levels.
But with the spread of the delta variant of the virus, the country is experiencing its worst outbreak by far, with more than half of the country’s 98 million population under lockdown orders.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka —India has sent 140 tons of liquid medical oxygen to neighboring Sri Lanka, where the need has been rising with the fast-spreading delta variant of COVID-19.
Sri Lanka has decided to import and store 480,000 liters of oxygen to treat patients. Health officials have said production within the country is sufficient to treat patients, but the government’s decision is aimed at maintaining an adequate stock.
Sri Lanka is witnessing an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and the government imposed a 10-day lockdown until Aug. 30 in a bid to contain the virus. Doctors and trade unions have warned that hospitals and morgues are reaching maximum capacities. The country has 385,696 confirmed cases and 7,183 deaths.
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, began a strict lockdown on Monday in an attempt to curb its worst coronavirus outbreak, a day before U.S Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in the country on a state visit.
People in high-risk districts are not allowed to leave home under the tight restrictions, which will remain in effect for at least two weeks. The city said it has mobilized police and army troops to monitor the lockdown and to deliver food as other necessities to each household.
Officials hope to flatten the surge and ease the pressure on the overloaded health care system by asking people to “stay put” and “stay in.” Since the wave of infections began at the end of April, Vietnam has reported 344,000 cases, with Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring Binh Duong accounting for most of them.
Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s entire southern region have already been in lockdown since July, when the delta variant started to spread quickly. Public gatherings are banned, non-essential business are closed and people are asked to only leave home to buy food or for urgent matters.
Since June, Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of 10 million people, has set up more than a dozen temporary hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients, but the high number of cases means thousands of patients are not able to be hospitalized.
According to the ministry of health, about 19,000 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms have been asked to stay at home with medical assistance from teams of mobile doctors in their communities.
On Tuesday, U.S Vice President Kamala Harris is to land in Hanoi, which is also under a lockdown, for a two-day visit to boost bilateral relations.
The U.S has been Vietnam’s largest vaccine donor, providing 5 million doses of Moderna to help the country’s vaccination program.
AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government on Monday said it is extending a strict nationwide lockdown until at least Friday as it tries to extinguish a growing coronavirus outbreak.
The news came after health authorities reported 35 new local cases of the fast-spreading delta variant, the highest number of daily cases since April last year.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown would continue until at least the end of the month in Auckland, where most of the cases have been found.
“We do need more information, we need more certainty, we don’t want to take any risks with delta. If the world has taught us anything, it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19,” she told reporters.
The outbreak, first discovered last week, has grown to 107 cases.
But health authorities say they’ve found links between most of them, giving them hope they can contain the outbreak.
They said they’ve tested about 3% of the nation’s population over the past week.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that pandemic lockdowns are unsustainable and states must open their borders once vaccination rates reach 80% of the population aged 16 years and older.
Australia has successfully stamped out COVD-19 clusters throughout the pandemic, but an outbreak of the delta variant that was introduced by a U.S. cargo flight air crew to Sydney in June has proved more stubborn.
New South Wales state reported 818 new infections on Monday, neighboring Victoria reported 71, the Australian Capital Territory reported 16 and Queensland reported a single case. All but Queensland state are locked down.
Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory reported no community infections and none is locked down.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has said his government won’t honor an agreement reached by Australian government leaders in July that would end lockdowns and state border closures once 80% of the population is vaccinated if that meant his state would no longer be free of the virus.
He declined to say whether he would withdraw financial support for businesses and households in states that continued to lock down after the 80% threshold is reached.
By Sunday, 30% of Australians aged 16 and over were fully vaccinated.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received her first dose of the island’s domestically developed coronavirus vaccine on Monday, launching its rollout to the public.
The vaccine, made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., was given emergency approval by regulators in July using a shortcut that prompted fierce opposition from parts of Taiwan’s medical and scientific community.
Taiwanese regulators bypassed the large-scale, longer term studies that are typically used to approve vaccines. Instead, they compared the level of antibodies that Medigen’s vaccine was able to generate with that of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been approved by many governments and has undergone the full three stages of clinical trials.
The two-dose Medigen protein subunit vaccine uses a piece of the coronavirus to teach the body to mount an immune response.
The decision to give approval based on the new standard prompted an expert from the advisory committee on vaccines to resign.
Critics say granting approval before finishing full clinical trials does not provide adequate information on how effective the vaccine is in the real world in protecting from COVID-19, although initial studies may have promising results.