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Monday November 29th, 2021 12:48AM

The Latest: WHO chief says poor nations gave 0.3% of shots

By The Associated Press
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LISBON, Portugal -- The head of the World Health Organization says more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally but 82% of them were given in high- and upper-middle-income countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says just 0.3% of all vaccines administered so far were given to people in low-income countries.

“That’s the reality,” Tedros told an online health conference hosted by Portugal on Thursday.

He said access to vaccines “is one of the defining challenges of the pandemic” and that public health is “the foundation of social, economic and political stability.”

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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

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— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BERLIN — German pharmaceutical company BioNTech says it expects to receive the results of trials of its coronavirus vaccine in younger children by September.

BioNTech, which developed the first widely approved COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner Pfizer, has already submitted data from trials in children ages 12-15 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and plans to do so for the European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs for use in the 27-nation European Union. .

The company said it expects results from trials in children ages 5-12 “as early as July” and in those younger than 5 in September.

BioNTech said requests for regulatory approval would depend on the results of the trials.

The company is one of the main suppliers of coronavirus vaccines in Europe and North America.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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