Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
India prepares for ‘world’s biggest vaccination drive’
Indian airlines started delivering batches of COVID-19 vaccines across the country on Tuesday, getting ready for the launch of a campaign to offer shots to 1.3 billion people in what officials call the world’s biggest vaccination drive.
Authorities hope to inoculate 300 million high-risk people over the next six to eight months. Vaccinations are scheduled to begin on Saturday.
First to get the vaccine will be 30 million health and other front-line workers, followed by about 270 million people aged over 50 or deemed high-risk.
Another Chinese city goes into lockdown
Authorities in China introduced new COVID-19 curbs in areas surrounding Beijing on Tuesday, putting 4.9 million residents under lockdown as new infections raised worries about a second wave in a nation that has mostly contained the disease.
The number of new cases in mainland China reported on Tuesday almost halved from a day earlier and remains a small fraction of what it was at the height of the outbreak in early 2020. However, local authorities are implementing strict curbs whenever new cases emerge to prevent the kind of economic paralysis seen a year ago.
The city of Langfang in Hebei on Tuesday said its 4.9 million residents will be put under home quarantine for seven days and be subject to mass COVID-19 testing.
9 million Americans now vaccinated
Nearly 9 million Americans had been given their first vaccination dose as of Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, as states scrambled to step up inoculations.
The 8,987,322 people who have been jabbed with the first of two shots, according to the CDC, represent less than one-third of the 25 million total doses distributed to states by the US government.Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday sought permission from the Trump administration to directly purchase 100,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and partner BioNTech, which was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.
Israel expects to start vaccinating children by March
Israel may include children over the age of 12 in groups receiving COVID-19 vaccines within the next two months if research shows this is safe, a top health official said on Tuesday.
Vaccinating at a world-record pace, Israel says it aims to have administered one or both shots to 5 million of its 9 million citizens, and reopen the economy, by mid-March.
Elderly Israelis and adults with medical conditions or jobs in critical high-risk sectors have been given priority. But with Israeli officials anticipating more regular vaccine shipments, the eligibility categories have been expanded.
Gorillas diagnosed with COVID-19
As many as eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 from a human handler after one of the animals tested positive, marking the first known transmission of the virus to apes, zoo officials said on Monday.
Three among the band of critically endangered western lowland gorillas at the sprawling wildlife park have shown symptoms of the respiratory virus, such as coughing, though none appears severely ill, and all are expected to fully recover, the zoo said.