The Latest: Psaki: Biden aims to avoid vaccine supply crunch

WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about a potential pause in vaccinations in New York, where the state is reporting a shortage in vaccines available for first doses.

Psaki says the White House has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “look into what is possible” to address the situation in New York. But she stressed the administration will defer to the judgment of medical experts.

“Clearly we don’t want any states to run out of access to vaccines,” Psaki says, adding the Biden administration aims to avoid supply crunches going forward.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Dr. Fauci says a lack of candor about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — AstraZeneca says it will ship fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union than anticipated due to supply chain problems.

The company is waiting for the European Medicines Agency to approve its vaccine, which could happen when the EU regulator meets on Jan. 29.

AstraZeneca’s statement said, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”

It adds: “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.”

Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has released some demographic details on who’s received the coronavirus vaccine.

However, the data provided Friday lacks key information to determine if Louisiana’s doses are equitably distributed.

Few vaccine providers are identifying race in the data submitted. That undermines Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to vaccination.

The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed as “unknown” or “other.”

Edwards is calling on hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data.

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WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support.

The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care.

Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming.

The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader.

However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill.

The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients.

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HAVANA — A possibly more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Cuba.

Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine says the variant, originally detected in South Africa, was found in an asymptomatic traveler during a check at ports and airports.

While that case was imported, she says authorities can’t rule out the possibility it is also circulating locally. But the institute’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said it’s not the reason for a recent upsurge in cases on the island.

The nation of some 11 million people has recorded more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 on Thursday, and 188 deaths.

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PHOENIX — Arizona’s death toll surpassed 12,000 on Friday after reporting 229 more deaths.

The Department of Health Services reported 8,099 confirmed cases, increasing total cases to more than 700,000.

The surge has crowded hospitals statewide. Arizona is ramping up vaccinations by opening an additional site. But like other states, Arizona has had difficulty getting enough doses to administer.

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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew and lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more coronavirus vaccinations.

Tribal officials announced the measures will take effect Monday and run through at least Feb. 15. Officials say the daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The tribe has reported a total of 26,782 cases and 940 known deaths on the reservation.

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RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has received its first doses of vaccine against the coronavirus and plans to start injections next week.

The Health Ministry sats the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered from India, will be followed by another delivery next week of a second vaccine, from China’s Sinopharm.

The vaccine rollout will start next week. Priority will be given to health workers age 40 and above, police and army officers, teachers 45 and above and those over 75.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says the U.N. health agency is providing Japan and the International Olympic Committee with “technical, operational and risk management” advice regarding the Tokyo Games.

However, it says it won’t be part of any decision as to whether the Olympics proceed.

Dr. Michael Ryan says WHO has participated in more than a dozen meetings with the IOC and Japanese institutions as part of a COVID-19 task force.

Ryan says WHO routinely provides advice to countries for mass gathering events, like the World Cup, but the decision is up to governments.

“The best way we can get to an Olympics is get on top of this disease,” he says.

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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan restaurants and bars can reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity with a 10 p.m. curfew on Feb. 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday.

“While we must remain vigilant and cautious, we can lift some protocols that were previously in place,” Whitmer said. “I know this pandemic has hurt our restaurant owners, our restaurant workers and all of their families. I want to thank those that made incredible sacrifices and did their part.”

Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon’s order limits capacity to 25% — lower than the 50% ceiling that was in effect from June to November — with a maximum of 100 people. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. and collect customers’ contact information for tracing purposes.

Food establishments can voluntarily take part in a new state ventilation-inspection program.

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BOSTON — Officials say nearly 2,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Boston after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer.

Officials at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center discovered on Tuesday that a freezer had failed, compromising 1,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The plug to the freezer was found to be loose after a contractor accidentally unplugged it while cleaning, according to a statement from Kyle Toto, a spokesman for VA Boston Healthcare System. The freezer had been in a safe location and had an alarm system, he said.

The system is investigating the cause of the incident and why the monitoring alarm system did not work. More doses are on the way, Toto says, and officials “do not foresee disruption” of the vaccination effort.

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PARIS — France will require a negative coronavirus test from travelers arriving from other European Union countries starting Sunday.

The mandatory PCR test must be carried out no later than 72 hours before departure. The government says specific controls will be carried out in airports and ports. Truck drivers and cross border workers are exempt from the measure.

The move follows a video summit Thursday during which EU leaders agreed that borders should remain open and assessed more measures to counter the spread of coronavirus variants.

Those traveling to France from outside the EU already need to show a negative test and face a seven-day quarantine once in the country. It is enforcing a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to slow the virus spread.

France has reported more than 71,000 confirmed deaths from the virus.

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MADRID — Spain is reporting 42,885 new coronavirus cases and 400 confirmed deaths Friday as several regions launch restrictions to avoid overcrowded hospitals.

One in five hospital beds and over 37% of ICU beds are devoted to treating coronavirus patients in Spain. In six of the 19 regions or autonomous cities, half or more of the ICU beds are already filled with patients that need ventilation or other acute treatment.

Spain has registered nearly 2.5 million coronavirus cases and more than 55,400 confirmed deaths.

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WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says a lack of candor and facts about the coronavirus pandemic under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives because it delayed getting sound scientific advice to the country.

“You know, it very likely did,” Fauci told CNN. “When you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful.”

Fauci didn’t single out failings by any individual or administration official, saying he didn’t want that to “be a sound bite.” But Trump frequently dismissed the advice of his administration’s scientists and claimed the virus would “fade away.”

President Joe Biden says restoring trust is a top goal of his coronavirus strategy. More than 410,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., the most in the world.

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MOSCOW – Hungary will receive enough doses of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V to inoculate one million people.

Speaking after a meeting in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says Hungary will get two million doses of Sputnik V, a two-shot vaccine, which will be enough for one million people.

Russia will ship first batches of the shot to Hungary next month, according to Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled Spuntik V.

Sputnik V received a six-month authorization Wednesday from Hungary’s National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition. Now it must be approved by the country’s National Public Health Center, a process which could take several weeks.

Hungary was the first EU country to receive samples of the Russian vaccine in November. The vaccine also received regulatory approval in Argentina, Belarus and Serbia.

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BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says the plan is to keep the original timeframe between doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Jens Spahn is signaling his country won’t follow Britain in delaying second doses of coronavirus vaccines in a bid to get more people inoculated.

Germany is dealing with a slow start to vaccinations after they were launched nearly a month ago. Spahn asked a commission of scientists that advises authorities on vaccinations to consider the merits of delaying a second dose.

Spahn says “the clear recommendation remains to keep to the intended timeframe” of a maximum three- to six-week gap, depending on the vaccine.

Spahn noted that Germany is vaccinating the most vulnerable and elderly, with “comprehensive” protection important for them. He says scientists suggest there may be risks, given a lack of survey data on how much protection a single shot provides.

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TOKYO — Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics this summer.

But to pull it off, many believe the vaccination of its 127 million citizens is key, an immense undertaking in the best of circumstances. It’s complicated now by an overly cautious decision-making process, bureaucratic roadblocks and a public that has long been deeply wary of vaccines.

Japan hopes to start COVID-19 vaccinations in late February. Leaders struck deals with three foreign pharmaceutical makers — Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

But uncertainty is growing that a nation ranked among the world’s lowest in vaccine confidence can pull off the massive undertaking in time for the Olympics in July.

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Categories: National News