Exclusive: Sitting on billions, US Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer pandemic aid; Study finds Astra-Zeneca vaccine may reduce virus transmission


From The Associated Press



Media www.rajawalisiber.com  – An AP investigation has found that scores of Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had more than $10 billion in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the federal government’s small business emergency relief program.


The Paycheck Protection Program was intended for employers who were badly battered by coronavirus lockdowns. Instead of suffering financially, however, many dioceses are reporting in audited financial statements that these assets ended up growing amid the economic downturn, Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes write in this exclusive report.


Overall, Catholic Church recipients were perhaps the paycheck program’s biggest beneficiaries. Church officials say they needed government relief to pay staff because donations from the faithful slowed when churches were ordered to close.


Takeaways: AP investigation of Catholic Church and US aid. 


Vaccine-Virus Transmission: A new study may help answer answer one of the major questions about the campaign to suppress the outbreak. Researchers from Oxford University say AstraZeneca’s vaccine does more than protect people from falling seriously ill — it also has the potential to reduce transmission of the virus. The study also suggested that a single dose of the formula provides a high level of protection for 12 weeks, which may vindicate the British government’s controversial strategy of delaying the second shot so that more people can be quickly given a first dose. Until now, the recommended time between the two doses has been four weeks. Danica Kirka and Lauran Neergaard report.


Britain Hard-Hit Borough: In parts of east London, the pandemic has hit much harder than most places in the U.K. The borough of Redbridge in the outer reaches of the capital had the nation’s second-worst infection rate in January. While case rates have come down, leaders say the borough is still “in the eye of the storm.” Officials say the area’s dense housing, high levels of poverty and large number of workers in public-facing jobs combine to make it more vulnerable. Many of the lower-income essential workers are ethnic minorities, who are among the most at-risk but also hardest to persuade to take up the vaccine, Sylvia Hui reports.


Czech 1M: The Czech Republic has reached 1 million confirmed cases. It is by far the smallest of the 21 countries to surpass the milestone, with the U.S. leading the global table with more than 26 million With a population of 10.7 million, the country has registered 16,683 deaths. Nearly 6,000 people are hospitalized while just over 1,000 are in intensive care, putting the health system under increasing pressure, Karel Janicek reports from Prague. The country was spared the worst of the pandemic in the spring only to see its health care system near collapse in the fall and again in January after the coalition government repeatedly let down pandemic guards despite warnings by experts.


France ICU: The ICU ward at the biggest hospital in southern France is facing a constant, steady flow of virus patients. A 16-year-old was brought in this week, its youngest patient to date. Staff at the La Timone Hospital’s ICU ward in Marseille say they’re just about managing, but the situation could worsen any day. France has lost more than 77,000 lives to the virus. Daniel Cole reports.




Can I take painkillers before or after a COVID-19 vaccine? The AP is answering Viral Questions in this series.

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