Coronavirus News Update – Dec. 27: Inoculations Begin in EU, Vaccine ‘Key to Getting Out of This Pandemic’

By Anna Breuer on 27 December 2020
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Germany along with several other EU countries began inoculating the elderly against the coronavirus Sunday, .  Trucks with police escort fanned out across the country with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, manufactured in Mainz at a BioNTech plant.The vaccine is the key to getting out of this pandemic,” said Jens Spahn, Bundesminister für Gesundheit, or federal health minister.

Officials in Lichtenfels as well as several other cities in Bavaria were forced to temporarily delay the start of their vaccination programs amidst uncertainty as to whether the correct temperature for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been maintained in transit.  The vaccine must be stored at -70° C (-112° F).“Should there be even the slightest indication that the vaccine does not meet the quality criteria 100%, this batch will not be used,” said Landrat, or District Administrator, Christian Meißner. Officials said they would consult with BioNTech to determine if the batch could be used.

Health officials in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden said that small numbers of infections involving a new and possibly far more contagious variant of the coronavirus have been found within their borders.  The mutation was first reported in the United Kingdom, prompting the closure of borders with France and a ban on flights to and from Britain in many countries.  Scientists believe that the new mutation is no more deadly than the current, more prevalent one but that it is 65% more transmissible.  Japan’s health ministry said that the British variant has been found in at least seven people in Japan.  All had either recently traveled to Japan or had been in contact with someone who had.

The fate of millions of people hangs in the balance as the country waits to see if President Trump will sign the pandemic relief bill that was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of Congress earlier last week.  After the bill cleared the House and the Senate, the president called on lawmakers to increase the $600 economic stimulus payments to $2,000, a move endorsed by Democrats in the House and dismissed by Republicans, who control the Senate.

The new pandemic relief bill that is currently awaiting the president’s signature includes funding to ensure that no one’s Internet service is turned off for non-payment. People with low incomes would be eligible for $50 per month in assistance. Anyone who can show a “substantial” decline in income or that he or she is receiving unemployment benefits will be eligible.

The governors of New England issued a joint video calling on residents “to do all you can to protect yourself, your families, our frontline workers, and our small businesses” amidst new surges in the coronavirus pandemic. Governors Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Phil Scott of Vermont, and Janet Mills of Maine urged New Englanders to remain cautious “a little bit longer.”  “No one wants Covid to be an uninvited guest during the holidays,” Sununu said in the video.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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