WASHINGTON – U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has said he wouldn’t be surprised if full Food and Drug Administration approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is coming soon and he expects that will spur more schools and companies to mandate vaccines.
Murthy said on Sunday he did not want to preempt the FDA’s announcement, but disagreed that it could happen this week. He cited a wealth of data showing that the two-dose regimen of Pfizer is safe and effective.
Currently, the vaccine is being distributed under emergency use clearance from the FDA. Murthy said he believed that once the agency completed its full review and issued its approval, more Americans would be persuaded to get the vaccine.
He has spoken on CNN’s “State of the Union”, ABC’s “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday”.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
– American mask, vaccine conflicts sink into violence and harassment
– Reverend Jesse Jackson, wife Jacqueline, hospitalized with COVID
– Hurricane Henri thwarts Central Park concert hailing New York virus rebound
Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS:
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he tested negative for COVID-19 just four days after testing positive.
“I was told my infection was brief and mild from the vaccination I received,” Abbott said in a video clip posted to his Twitter account on Saturday. “So I encourage others who have not yet been vaccinated to consider getting vaccinated. “
When the Republican governor announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus, his office said he was in good health and showed no symptoms. Abbott said on Saturday he would continue to self-quarantine as recommended by medics.
Abbott, who was vaccinated in December, has refused calls to reinstate mask warrants as the highly contagious delta variant increases in Texas. He tested positive for the virus a day after appearing indoors near Dallas without a mask while speaking to a room crowded with GOP supporters, most of whom were older and unmasked.
TEHRAN – Iran has reported its highest COVID-19 death toll in a single day from the pandemic, according to state media.
The official IRNA news agency said on Sunday that 684 people had died from the disease since Saturday, while more than 36,400 new cases were confirmed in the same 24-hour period.
Iran’s previous daily record for deaths from COVID-19 was recorded on August 16. The country reported its highest number of daily cases the next day, with more than 50,000.
A five-day lockdown in the country ended on Saturday.
The current wave of infections is the fifth in the pandemic in Iran and is fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. The country is also struggling to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus. Some 7% of Iranians have been fully immunized.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Japan, Australia and New Zealand all got through the first year of the coronavirus pandemic in relatively good shape, but are taking divergent paths to deal with new outbreaks of the spreading delta variant fast.
The discovery of a single local case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was enough for the government to put the entire country in strict containment last week.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, however, Japan is resisting such measures in the face of a record wave, focusing instead on accelerating its vaccination program. And Australia fell somewhere in the middle.
The different approaches could have far-reaching consequences for the economies of these nations and the health of their citizens.
Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said countries around the world are struggling to adapt to the highly contagious variant.
“With the delta variant, the old rules just don’t work,” he said.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – A conservative talk radio host from Tennessee who was skeptical of vaccines until he was hospitalized with COVID-19 has died. He was 61 years old.
Nashville radio station SuperTalk 99.7 WTN confirmed Phil Valentine’s death in a tweet on Saturday.
Valentine had been skeptical of coronavirus vaccines. But after testing positive for COVID-19, and before his hospitalization, he told his listeners to consider, “If I get this COVID thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?” If so, he advised them to get the vaccine. He said he chose not to get the vaccine because he thought he probably wouldn’t die.
After Valentine was transferred to an intensive care unit, his brother Mark said the radio host regretted that “he was not a more vocal advocate for vaccination.”
“I know if he was able to tell you, he would say, ‘Go get the vaccine. Stop worrying about politics. Stop worrying about all the conspiracy theories, ”Mark Valentine told the Tennessean on July 25.
“He regrets not having been more adamant about getting vaccinated. Look at the dadgum data, ”said Mark Valentine.
CHICAGO – Civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, have been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, according to a statement released on Saturday.
Reverend Jackson, 79, is vaccinated against the coronavirus and received his first dose in January in a high profile event as he urged others to receive the inoculation as soon as possible. He and his wife, 77, are being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
“Doctors are currently monitoring the condition of both,” according to a statement from Jesse Jackson’s nonprofit, the Rainbow / PUSH Coalition.
“There are no further updates at this time,” the statement said. “We will provide updates as they become available.”
Protected by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jackson has played a key role in guiding the modern civil rights movement on many issues, including voting rights.
Although he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he remained active and advocated for COVID-19 vaccines for blacks, who lag behind whites in the US vaccination campaign.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky governor’s efforts to fight COVID-19 have suffered historic legal defeat.
The state’s high court on Saturday paved the way for laws restricting its emergency powers to come into force. The state’s Supreme Court ordered a lower court to dissolve an injunction blocking new Republican-backed laws limiting the emergency powers of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear.
The decision revolves around a dispute between Beshear and the GOP-led legislature over the scope of the governor’s executive authority in an emergency. It comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase in Kentucky.
The governor lifted most of his pandemic restrictions in June. But with the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, he signed a recent executive order imposing an indoor mask mandate on K-12 schools, daycares and preschool programs across Kentucky.
One of the contested laws limits the governor’s decrees for emergencies to 30 days, unless they are extended by lawmakers.
PARIS – Thousands of protesters once again marched through towns and villages across France against a COVID-19 health pass required to enter restaurants and cafes, cultural and sporting venues.
For a sixth consecutive Saturday, opponents denounced what they consider a restriction of their freedom. Many criticized the measure, saying the French government implicitly made vaccines mandatory.
In Paris, four events were organized by different groups. Elsewhere in the country, more than 200 protests took place.
Despite the protests, polls have shown that the majority of French people support the health pass. More than 40.5 million people in France, or 60%, are fully vaccinated.
Since last month, France has recorded a high number of infections – around 22,000 every day.