SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has begun administering fast-track COVID-19 vaccines to athletes, coaches and others expected to attend the Tokyo Olympics.
The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee says about 100 people received the first doses at a state-run Seoul hospital on Thursday, the first day of the country’s prioritized vaccination program for its Olympic delegation.
The committee says a total of 930 players, coaches, officials and other support staff will be given either Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines ahead of the Tokyo Games set to begin in July.
Athletes can receive the vaccines if they have already secured berths at the Olympics or may do so in qualification tournaments. This means some may get vaccinated who don't go to the Games.
South Korea aims to send about 800-900 people to the Olympics, 350 of them athletes and coaches in 27 events. Committee officials expect to finalize the Olympic delegation in late June when all qualifying tournaments are finished.
The Sports Ministry says about 150 athletes and coaches hoping to attend the Tokyo Paralympics will separately get virus shots on Friday and May 4. Those also include athletes who are still under qualifying events.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Biden declared “America is rising anew” as he called for expanding programs to drive economy past pandemic
— India sets another record with new cases as it gears up to expand vaccinations to all adults
— As many as one-third of Mexicans may have been exposed to virus in 2020, blood tests indicate
— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Offices were closed, markets were shuttered and vehicles were forced off the streets in Nepal’s capital on Thursday as authorities imposed a 15-day lockdown because of spiking cases of COVID-19.
The lockdown was imposed in most of the Himalayan nation’s major cities and towns. In Kathmandu and surrounding districts, police set up checkpoints and were stopping drivers and pedestrians. Several vehicles were impounded for defying the lockdown.
Residents rushed to neighborhood grocery stores for supplies in the morning when authorities allowed them to open for a few hours. Tens of thousands of people had rushed out of Kathmandu in the past two days to avoid the shutdown.
Both international and domestic flights were operating on schedule. The government has closed the land borders to foreigners, but citizens of neighboring India can enter with a negative coronavirus test and proof of a hotel booking for a 10-day quarantine.
Nepal’s health ministry has recorded 312,699 infections while 3,211 people have died from COVID-19.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Moderna announced Thursday it is beefing up global manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to produce up to 3 billion doses in 2022.
The company predicts supplying between 800 million and 1 billion doses worldwide this year. But it’s looking ahead as much of the world still will need a first round of COVID-19 vaccinations next year — and to be ready if and when people may need a booster shot.
Moderna’s vaccine is authorized for use by adults in the U.S., European Union and multiple other countries. The company expects data soon from a U.S. study of the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds, and has begun testing the shots in younger children. Also underway are studies of doses tweaked to better match a worrisome mutated version of the coronavirus.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is extending an already monthlong lockdown by two weeks as the country’s worst coronavirus infection spike starts to ease but remains alarming.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in televised remarks Thursday night that the second-most restrictive lockdown level will now run through May 14 in metropolitan Manila and four nearby provinces, a region of more than 25 million people. Mayors, however, cut a nine-hour night curfew in metropolitan Manila to six hours to help battered businesses.
Duterte is warning mayors and village chiefs that they face jail if they don’t prevent gatherings and other events that violate the pandemic restrictions.
Confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines soared past 1 million Monday, with deaths now at more than 17,000, the second highest in Southeast Asia.