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Four of Europe’s most populous countries have now suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine after reports of blood clots in some recently inoculated patients — even as the World Health Organization said it was safe and urged countries to continue using it.

Shortly after Germany said it would halt distribution of the AstraZeneca shots Monday, France, Italy and Spain announced that they would do the same, all describing their moves as precautionary measures taken while they await an impending analysis from European regulators. The four countries join the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and a few other nations that have paused use of the vaccine pending additional data.

WHO officials are still recommending the vaccine, and they said Monday that the greatest threat facing countries is a lack of access to vaccines — not blood clot concerns. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose health officials have approved the AstraZeneca shot, called it “safe and effective.” The company has said there is no evidence of a link between its vaccine and clotting.

Here are some significant developments:
3:30 a.m.
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Analysis: Does Ron Johnson still need a vaccine after having covid? Yes.

Reporter: “Did you get the vaccine or are you planning to get vaccinated?”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.): “No, I had covid, so I don’t believe, you know, I think that probably provides me the best immunity possible, actually having had the disease.”

Doctors, public health experts, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are clear: Get the coronavirus vaccine even if you had covid-19.

Yes, people who had the disease produce antibodies that provide immunity from the coronavirus. But that immunity fades over time, and the body’s natural response may not be enough to prevent a repeat infection 90 days after the first one, the CDC says.

Reinfections, both mild and severe, have been well documented since the coronavirus emerged in late 2019.

2:45 a.m.
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San Antonio ramen shop covered in racist graffiti after owner criticizes lifting of Texas mask mandate

When Mike Nguyen found the racist slurs covering his restaurant’s windows and patio tables on Sunday, he said he immediately knew the cause. One message spray painted on the front door of his San Antonio ramen shop particularly stood out: “No masks.”

Ever since Nguyen, 33, went on national TV last week to condemn Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for lifting the state’s mask mandate, the Asian American chef and owner was flooded with death threats, one-star online reviews and harassing messages, Nguyen told The Washington Post.

The incident appears to combine two disturbing national trends: A backlash to mask mandates that has often turned violent and destructive, and a surge of racist attacks and threats against Asian Americans, which some advocates tie to former president Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric over the pandemic.

1:50 a.m.
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Police in Miami Beach pepper-spray spring breakers, arrest dozens, over fears of covid surge

When police tried to clear the crowds away from a packed Miami Beach roadway on Friday night, one teenager refused to give any ground and allegedly pushed an officer.

As hundreds of bystanders — many of them without masks — gathered for a closer look, officers responded with pepper spray and pepper balls. Officials said the incident ended with at least two arrests and two police officers taken to the hospital.

That scene marked the height of an unusually busy weekend for Miami Beach police, as law enforcement faced off from Friday through Sunday with large crowds of spring breakers disregarding local coronavirus safety measures. More than a year into the pandemic, authorities worry the melee is a sign of what may come this month as covid-weary travelers flock to beaches.

12:51 a.m.
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AstraZeneca and blood clots: Without causality, experts say reports shouldn’t rule out a vaccine

Amid growing concerns about reports of blood clots among AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine recipients, health experts are urging the public not to jump to conclusions about any vaccine’s safety based solely on reports of adverse events and in the absence of further research.

“A vaccine is designed to prevent a certain kind of thing — prevent an infection or prevent disease,” said Susan Ellenberg, a professor of biostatistics, medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “It’s not going to prevent every bad thing that could possibly happen to anybody, so when a vaccine is widely used, all the other kinds of bad things that could happen to people are still going to happen.

“And when they happen in close proximity to getting a vaccine, one can understand why people think, ‘Oh, that must have been caused by the vaccine’ or at least be suspicious that it might have been caused by the vaccine,” Ellenberg continued.

Ellenberg and other experts emphasized that health conditions arising after a new vaccine or drug is distributed to the general population are often coincidental.

12:50 a.m.
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Pandemic stress can interfere with your brain’s ability to focus

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Sonya Matejko, 29, excelled at getting stuff done. As a public relations consultant in New York, she often worked with clients on-site or in coffee shops, where she felt motivated by those around her.

After the pandemic hit and she was stuck in her apartment, she struggled to concentrate on work or even get through an at-home yoga practice.

Experts say she’s hardly alone.

For many, the lack of focus they’ve experienced during the past year stems from both physical and psychological factors, such as noise, interruptions, multitasking, isolation and the loss of healthy routines. And on top of those might be stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, racism, political tumult, climate disasters and a foreboding sense of uncertainty.

11:45 p.m.
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There are ‘good’ viruses around as well, and some could even save our lives

Several months into the coronavirus pandemic, I had a video medical appointment with a patient who was looking forward to getting infected by a virus. She had an aggressive bacterial infection in her hip that antibiotics could not cure. Having run out of conventional options, her medical team was preparing to give her an experimental treatment with bacteriophage (or “phage” for short), a virus capable of destroying the offending bacteria.

Covid-19 has us thinking of viruses as the enemy and yet here was someone excited about getting one. Her story was a reminder that most of the viruses in our midst are actually benign, and some are even lifesaving.

But which viruses help us and how do we promote them while dodging those, like the one causing covid-19, that cause disease?

“Phage is definitely an example of a good virus.” said Saima Aslam, an infectious- disease expert in organ transplantation at the University of California at San Diego.

11:38 p.m.
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Head coach of top-ranked U-Conn. basketball team tests positive for covid-19 shortly after receiving second vaccine dose

Decorated University of Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma will miss the start of the women’s NCAA tournament after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Auriemma tested positive Sunday, the school said Monday, shortly before the airing of the tournament’s selection show. The school said the 66-year-old was not experiencing symptoms and had not had any close contacts with other members of the Huskies since Friday.

The coach said in a statement that he received his second injection of a coronavirus vaccine Wednesday and was infected before the vaccine gained full effect. He was not “in the clear,” he said.

“This revelation is a reminder that, while there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are not on the other side of this pandemic yet,” Auriemma said in a statement.

U-Conn. won the Big East tournament last week, bolstering its status as one of the favorites to win the NCAA tournament. Because guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Connecticut Department of Public Health call for Auriemma to isolate for 10 days, he could rejoin the Huskies on March 24, the second day of the second round. The tournament’s first round is set for March 21 and 22.

10:50 p.m.
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The latest hotel amenity doesn’t involve massages or cookies: It’s a free coronavirus test.

The idea of a covid specialist is still a novelty in the hospitality industry, but over the year, hotels have been introducing new amenities that speak to these anxiety-riddled times. In the early months of the pandemic, hotels were loading up guests with complimentary masks and hand sanitizer. A second wave of perks is now upon us, triggered by a January announcement that all air travelers entering the United States must provide proof of a negative “viral test.” (Acceptable tests include antigen tests and nucleic acid amplification tests, or NAAT, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

“You have to make people feel absolutely comfortable when they stay with you,” said Robert Cole, a senior research analyst at Phocuswright who specializes in lodging and leisure travel. “The hotels need to communicate that they have a way to protect you. That they have your back.”

9:54 p.m.
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Mississippi is second state to remove eligibility restrictions for coronavirus vaccine

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said Monday that all residents will be able to book coronavirus vaccine appointments beginning Tuesday, making his state the second to remove eligibility restrictions.

Vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been authorized for those 18 and older, while the Pfizer-BioNTech regimen is available for people as young as 16.

Alaska last week became the first state to throw open access to coronavirus immunization when officials there said anyone 16 and older who lives or works in the state could book an appointment. Numerous states are rapidly expanding access, though none as fast as Alaska and, now, Mississippi.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Monday set April 5 as the tentative date on which scheduling would begin for anyone over 16. Michigan last week settled on the same date.

The moves suggest states are moving rapidly to meet the deadline set Friday by President Biden when he directed states to make vaccine available to all adults no later than May 1.

9:32 p.m.
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Frat party-linked coronavirus surge prompts schoolwide quarantine at Duke

In a typical year, mid-March is spring break season at Duke University. This, however, is 2021. Not only was the vernal holiday essentially canceled, but a recent outbreak of the coronavirus has forced students into what might be considered the antipode of a week spent partying on the beach: seven days in an administration-mandated quarantine, as officials scramble to curb fraternity party-fueled virus spread on campus.

In a letter to students on Saturday, three leaders of the university in Durham, N.C., outlined the new “stay-in-place” order and described a dire situation: In just one week, more than 180 students tested positive for the coronavirus and 200 others were in quarantine because they had close contact with an infected person.

“This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic,” wrote John Blackshear, the dean of students.

8:26 p.m.
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Trudeau says AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians on Monday about the safety of the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca as several European countries said they were suspending its use.

“Health Canada and our experts and scientists have spent an awful lot of time making sure that every vaccine approved in Canada is both safe and effective,” he told reporters in Montreal. “Therefore, the best vaccine for you to take is the very first one that is offered to you.”

Health Canada, the regulator, approved AstraZeneca’s shot in February. The bulk of the country’s more than 20 million doses are not expected to begin arriving until the second quarter of this year.

Some of the country’s AstraZeneca shots are being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Trudeau said none of the doses that have arrived in Canada are from the batch in Europe that is under scrutiny.

Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in all adults. But several days later, the country’s national advisory committee on immunization recommended against the use of the vaccine in those 65 and older because of “limited information on the efficacy of this vaccine in this age group at this time.”

The committee’s recommendations are nonbinding for Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, which are responsible for choosing which groups to prioritize for the vaccine and administering the doses. But several of them, including Ontario, Canada’s most populous, are following the recommendation.

7:45 p.m.
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Germany investigates whether coronavirus aid money has gone to extremist groups

BERLIN — German officials said Monday that authorities were investigating whether government emergency aid money has gone to “extremist” individuals or networks, as criticism mounts over oversight.

The payments were made as part of an aid package last year to shore up the German economy that included assistance for businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic.

The vast majority of the investigations were in Berlin, covering about 60 individuals and mosque associations and involving assistance amounting to 1 million euros, according to a report by Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

The report said there was evidence of “direct terrorist financing” from the aid money.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said there is evidence that beneficiaries of the aid included “individuals who belong to the extremist spectrum.” The extent to which they belong to wider networks is yet to be determined, he said, adding that police have recovered some of the funds.

He referred further questions to Berlin prosecutors, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

7:00 p.m.
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WHO officials continue to recommend AstraZeneca vaccine

World Health Organization officials said Monday that they continue to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite several countries halting its use because of blood-clot concerns.

Speaking during a news briefing, they said the agency is closely monitoring the data, with additional information expected as soon as Tuesday, and has not found a link between clotting and inoculation. They noted that the rate of clots is not higher among those who received the AstraZeneca shot — instead, it is actually less than what would be expected in the general population.

“I think that while we need to continue to be very closely monitoring this, we do not want people to panic,” said World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan. “And we would for the time being recommend countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca.”

She and other WHO officials said the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks, noting that the coronavirus has killed millions around the globe. They described the suspension of the AstraZeneca shot’s use, a step taken by countries including Germany and France after recent deaths from blood clots in Europe, as precautionary measures.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is “routine practice” to investigate adverse outcomes that follow vaccination, adding that the agency’s advisory committee on vaccine safety has been reviewing the data and plans to meet Tuesday.

But, he said, “the greatest threat that most countries face right now is lack of access to vaccines.” He said he receives near-daily calls from political leaders around the world asking when their countries will receive vaccines through COVAX, a WHO-linked global initiative to equitably distribute doses.

“Some of them are frustrated, and I understand why,” he said. “They see some of the world’s richest countries buying enough vaccine to immunize their populations several times over, while their own countries have nothing.”

6:15 p.m.
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Trump voters in focus groups open to being educated over vaccines, just not indoctrinated

Be honest that scientists don’t have all the answers. Tout the number of people who got the vaccines in trials. And don’t show pro-vaccine ads with politicians — not even ones with Donald Trump.

That’s what a focus group of vaccine-hesitant Trump voters insisted to politicians and pollsters this weekend, as public health leaders rush to win over the tens of millions of Republicans who say they don’t plan to get a coronavirus shot. If those voters follow through, it would imperil efforts to achieve the high levels of immunity needed to stop the virus’s spread in the United States, experts fear.

“These people represent 30 million Americans. And without these people, you’re not getting herd immunity,” said Frank Luntz, the longtime GOP pollster who convened Saturday’s focus group over Zoom.