Millions of fans are getting ready to watch the televised annual U.S. football game known as the Super Bowl. Health officials, afraid that the viewing could become a COVID-19 superspreader event, have urged people to watch the game only with “the people you live with.”
Traditionally, family and friends gather in homes, bars and restaurants to watch the game and cheer on their favorite football team. That behavior, however, would likely result in an uptick in coronavirus infections, health care officials warn.
The U.S. already has more COVID-19 cases than any other country, with almost 30 million cases by early Sunday and more than 460,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Following the U.S. in the number of infections are India, with nearly 11 million cases, and Brazil, with 9.4 million.
More than 59 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday. More than 39 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines had been administered by Saturday morning, with more than 30.2 million people receiving the first inoculation according to the CDC. More than 8 million people received their second dose.
Australia, now three days without any locally transmitted coronavirus infections, is set to begin the Australia Open tennis tournament on Monday in Melbourne. Tennis players in the first grand slam of the year had to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine when they arrived in January.
Cuba’s economy has been hammered by the pandemic. In an effort to recover from the economic slump, the island nation has announced that it will allow an increasing number of small private businesses to operate. Cubans have been strictly limited in the kinds of private businesses they could run, but the government is reported to have widely expanded the list of possibilities.
With the world in a race between the spread of coronavirus variants and vaccinating millions, AstraZenaca announced Saturday that early data shows its vaccine does provide limited protection against the South African variant of the virus.
The test group was small, about 2,000 people, and young, with a median age of 31. But none of the study’s participants were hospitalized or died, according to The Financial Times, the first to report the results.
“We do believe our vaccine could protect against severe disease,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said. He added that the company has not been able "to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalization, given that subjects were predominantly young healthy adults."
The pharmaceutical company will publish the study results Monday.
AstraZeneca has begun adapting its vaccine against the South African variant, the spokesperson said.
China approves second vaccine
China has conditionally approved the use by the general public of a second COVID-19 vaccine.
The National Medical Products Administration said in a statement Saturday that regulators approved the use Friday of CoronaVac, developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
It’s the second vaccine approved for public use in the East Asian country. The first, a vaccine developed by a Chinese institute affiliated with the state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group, Sinopharm, was approved two months ago.
The Sinovac vaccine, which is being administered in at least five other countries, was given emergency approval last July for high-risk people, such as health care workers and employees of state-owned companies.
Conditional approval of the vaccine allows its use for the general public, while research continues. The company must submit current data and reports of any adverse effects after the vaccine is sold on the market.
A third candidate vaccine from Sinopharm has been administered to high-risk groups in China, while a fourth candidate from CanSino Biologics is being administered to military personnel.