Vaccine Fight Heats Up In Europe As UK Passes Grim Covid Milestone
The number of covid victims in the United Kingdom has eclipsed the number of civilians killed in World War II. Meanwhile, solidarity between the U.K. and E.U. is fraying, several nations have passed new mask rules, Holocaust survivors are receiving their first doses of the vaccine and more.
Unwanted Virus Milestone: UK's Civilian Dead Now Tops WWII's
There are no warning sirens, nor a rush for shelter. No neighborhoods of collapsed rubble with bodies buried inside from Nazi Germany bombardment. It is quieter than all that. But the United Kingdom has now suffered its worst civilian loss of life since World War II by a significant number. Some 70,000 non-combatants perished in the 1940s. Three quarters of a century later, it’s 100,000 taken by the coronavirus pandemic, an adversary no less relentless and fearsome and one whose defeat is still some time away. (Fakahany, 1/26)
The New York Times:
E.U. And U.K. Fight Over Coronavirus Vaccines: 'Solidarity Is Failing'
The vaccine wars have come to Europe. For months now, wealthy countries have been clearing the world’s shelves of coronavirus vaccines, leaving poorer nations with little hope of exiting the pandemic in 2021. But a fresh skirmish this week has pitted the rich against the rich — Britain versus the European Union — in the scramble for vials, opening a new and unabashedly nationalist competition that could poison relations and set back collective efforts to end the pandemic. (Mueller and Stevis-Gridneff, 1/27)
Astra Pushes Back As EU Warnings Over Vaccine Delay Escalate
Drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc pushed back against the European Union on Covid-19 vaccinations, reacting to threats to its business and saying the bloc must take responsibility for delays to the rollout of the shot. The comments from AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot come as EU governments and company executives prepare to discuss the issue on a call Wednesday evening. The European Commission wants “fundamental” information about delivery plans for the first half of the year, according to an official with knowledge of the situation. Tensions over the rollout have escalated since Astra warned late last week of delays at a production plant in Belgium. The EU responded with fury, vowing to monitor exports of shots, and Germany signaled support for the idea of imposing limits on sales outside the EU. (Chrysoloras and Stearns, 1/27)
France Covid Vaccine Second Dose Won't Be Delayed Due To New Variant Risk
France decided not to delay second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, shunning the advice of its health authority and citing risks and uncertainties in the face of new variants. “We are facing a degree of unknown and uncertainty,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said Tuesday at a press conference in Paris. “There’s a lack of scientific consensus. So I’m making a choice based on validated data that we fully understand.” Veran and Alain Fischer, a vaccination expert who advises the government, pointed to a lack of reliable information about the protection conferred by the first dose alone, especially in the elderly. There’s also no clarity on whether the delay would affect overall protection after the second dose as more contagious variants continue to spread. (Fourcade, 1/26)
Some European Countries Move To Require Medical-Grade Masks In Public
A number of European countries have announced new mask recommendations and requirements, pushing aside fabric masks in favor of surgical masks or medical-grade respirators. In Germany, the federal and state governments introduced measures last week making medical masks — identified as surgical masks or KN95 or FFP2 masks — mandatory in stores and on public transit. It also issued a recommendation that medical masks be worn whenever there is close or prolonged contact with other people, particularly in enclosed spaces. FFP2 is a European standard promising filtration similar to that of N95 or KN95 respirators. (Wamsley, 1/26)
Shoah Survivors To Get Vaccine On Auschwitz Liberation Day
Hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Austria and Slovakia were poised to get their first coronavirus vaccination Wednesday, acknowledging their past suffering with a special tribute 76 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, where the Nazis killed more than 1 million Jews and others. “We owe this to them,” said Erika Jakubovits, the Jewish Community of Vienna organizer of the vaccination drive. “They have suffered so much trauma and have felt even more insecure during this pandemic.” (Grieshaber and Jenn, 1/27)