UK aims to give first COVID-19 shot to all adults by September; Vaccine skepticism hurts East European anti-virus efforts; In US, West Virginia sets pace on vaccine rollout


From The Associated Press


Media  – Britain says it plans to offer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every adult by September as the nation’s health service battles the worst crisis in its 72-year-history.

Travellers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The UK will close all travel corridors from Monday morning to protect against the coronavirus with travellers entering the country from overseas are required to have proof of a negative Covid test. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)


The government says it is continuing to open new vaccination sites and will soon begin trialing around-the-clock injections at some locations to help increase the pace of delivery with the target September. The ambitious vaccination program comes amid crushing pressures on the National Health Service, Danica Kirka reports.


Already beleaguered hospitals are admitting another virus patient every 30 seconds, putting the service in its most precarious situation ever.


Eastern Europe Doubts: Across the Balkans and other nations in southeastern Europe, a vaccination campaign is being overshadowed by heated political debates or conspiracy theories that threaten to thwart the process. In countries like the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria, vaccine skeptics have ranged from former presidents to top athletes and doctors. Nations that once routinely went through mass inoculations under Communist leaders are deeply split over whether to take the vaccines at all, Dusan Stojanovic and Jovana Gec report from Belgrade.


Israel Pfizer: As Israel sprints ahead in vaccinating its population against the virus, it has struck a deal with Pfizer to secure doses in exchange for medical data. Proponents say the deal will allow Israel to become the first country to vaccinate most of its population, while providing valuable research that could help the rest of the world. But critics say the murky deal is raising major ethical questions. Those include possible violations of privacy rights and deepening a global divide that enables wealthy countries to stockpile vaccines as poorer populations, including Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, face long waits to be inoculated, Ilan Ben Zion reports from Jerusalem.

US Vaccine: West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation’s otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout. It’s largely a result of the state’s decision to enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to give the shots, rather than agreeing to a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Now more shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state. Data shows that at least 7.5% of the population has received the first of two shots. The vaccine effort is being trumpeted by the governor as running counter to preconceived notions about the state being backward, Cuneyt Dil reports.


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