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In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, a frightening mystery stemmed from anecdotes about people previously stricken with covid-19 getting sick again a few months later. The possibility of reinfection raised the specter of a never-ending pandemic.

But an analysis of 63 million medical records by data scientists shows that while reinfection is possible, it is rare. Out of about 400,000 people with positive tests for the coronavirus, only 0.4 percent tested positive twice in a period more than 90 days apart, according to the study by health-care software company Epic Systems.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Federal health authorities are leaning toward recommending that use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine resume, possibly as soon as this weekend — a move that would include a new warning about a rare complication involving blood clots but probably would not call for age restrictions.
  • Should you wear a mask outside? Experts weigh in.
  • India on Thursday reported a staggering 314,835 cases, the world’s highest number of new infections in a 24-hour period since the beginning of the pandemic. The surge has inundated hospitals.
  • The European Union is set to take legal action against Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for failing to supply the vast majority of vaccine doses it was contracted to deliver, two diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations told The Washington Post.
  • Half of America’s eligible population has received at least one vaccine dose, and new cases, while still high, are showing declines of almost 12 percent over the past week. Nearly 570,000 people in the country have died of the virus.
3:30 a.m.
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Teens in quarantine: Some parents found surprising closeness during the pandemic

When his kids were little, Steven Ropes used to watch with bemusement as his neighbors’ garage door opened and closed all evening long. The family seemed to be constantly coming and going, shuttling teenagers to untold destinations.

Then Ropes’s six kids got older and his own garage door started getting a nightly workout. “We were in full swing,” says Ropes, a 53-year-old engineer in Duxbury, Mass. “Come in, go out, come back. It was nonstop.”

But the beehive of activity ground to a halt with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

2:30 a.m.
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Here’s just how unequal the global coronavirus vaccine rollout has been

The globe is quickly being split into coronavirus vaccine “haves” and “have-nots,” creating a gap that may define the next phase of the pandemic.

Using publicly available figures from Our World in Data, The Washington Post found that nearly half — 48 percent — of all vaccine doses administered so far have gone to just 16 percent of the world’s population in what the World Bank considers high-income countries.

Through the summer and fall of last year, wealthy nations cut deals directly with vaccine-makers, buying up a disproportionate share of early doses — and undermining a World Health Organization-backed effort, called Covax, to equitably distribute shots.

So now, in a small number of relatively wealthy nations, including the United States, doses are relatively plentiful and mass immunization campaigns are progressing apace. But much of the world is still struggling to secure enough supply. For many, herd immunity is many months — if not years — away, which could extend the crisis.

1:00 a.m.
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Perspective: The pandemic changed everything about family life. These are the parts parents want to keep.

Nothing about the past year has been easy for parents. They’ve lost loved ones, lost jobs. They’ve been cut off from their children’s grandparents, cut off from child care, cut off from friends and support systems. They’ve missed out on graduations and bar mitzvahs, proms and vacations. They’ve juggled remote school and remote jobs, or been forced to put themselves and their families at risk by continuing to leave the house for jobs that must be done in person.

But at some point in the pandemic, we in The Washington Post’s On Parenting section started to hear a common theme amid all the despair and fear and utter exhaustion. Even in the worst circumstances, parents were finding something worth celebrating, something worth holding onto. A slower pace of life. Neighborhood walks. Jigsaw puzzles at the dining table. New hobbies, new skills, new appreciation for their children and one another.

So we asked parents to tell us, as we start to see light at the end of this pandemic tunnel: What is one change you’d like to carry with you into post-pandemic life?

12:00 a.m.
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Should you wear a mask outside? Experts weigh in.

As more Americans are vaccinated against the coronavirus and a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the risk of outdoor transmission is low, many people are wondering: Do we need to keep wearing face masks outside?

The short answer is that masking outdoors can be “optional,” says Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. While he says people should still generally don masks indoors, Sax believes statewide mandates for wearing masks outdoors may no longer be necessary.

“The science of the viral transmission is advanced enough that we really don’t want to be kind of confusing people by forcing them to wear masks in places where really they’re at minimal risk,” he says.

11:00 p.m.
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Greece reopens to Americans. But paradise is still under curfew.

LINDOS, Greece — In just one of Greece’s glimmering island villages, strung up like a bracelet above a glass-blue bay, everything is silent, except for the work of bringing the place back to life.

Work crews scrub restaurant patios, where soon tourists might be having grilled octopus under string lights. A painter whitens the village walls that might soon be the backdrop for so many Instagram photos. Two men refurbish the wooden doors of a boutique hotel, whose suites — if all goes right — might soon fill up again with travelers, sunburned, wine in hand, on vacation at last.

“People want to travel,” said Michalis Melenos, 69, the hotel’s owner. “They want this to come back.”

Greece is still under lockdown and dealing with a coronavirus surge, but it is trying — more fervently than perhaps any other European nation — to reboot international travel and pitch itself as the summer destination it was before the pandemic.

10:34 p.m.
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Canada suspends direct flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days

TORONTO — Canada on Thursday suspended direct commercial and private passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, citing the spread of variants and coronavirus infections detected in passengers arriving from those countries.

Anyone arriving from those countries indirectly will have to obtain a negative coronavirus test before their flight at their last point of departure, Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, said at a news conference.

The announcement came amid pressure from premiers, opposition lawmakers and some health experts, who have accused the Canadian government of being too slow to restrict international travel and allowing highly transmissible variants first identified in Brazil and Britain to be imported.

The Canadian government has often cast its border measures as some of the strictest in the world. The country’s international borders are, with some exceptions, closed to foreign nationals. All incoming air passengers must obtain a negative coronavirus test before their departure. They are tested again upon arrival in Canada and must wait for their results at a hotel, then complete the remainder of a 14-day quarantine at home.

Patty Hajdu, Canada’s health minister, said that while India accounts for 20 percent of recent air volume to Canada, more than 50 percent of positive tests conducted at the border involved passengers from that country.

Health Canada data shows that at least 34 flights from India and Pakistan have landed in Canada in the past two weeks carrying people who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

9:59 p.m.
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Jobless claims hit back-to-back pandemic lows as recovery strengthens

Americans filed 547,000 first-time unemployment claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, hitting a pandemic low for the second week in a row as the recovery gains steam.

Last week’s surprise drop, since revised to 586,000 initial claims, coupled with news that March retail sales had notched one of the largest jumps on record, fueled hopes that the economy was rebounding as coronavirus vaccinations picked up and stimulus funds continued to reach U.S. households.

There’s still a long way to go before unemployment reaches pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, average weekly initial claims hovered around 218,000. But Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade, said the back-to-back reports of unexpectedly lower claims signal “significant momentum” in the labor market.

8:32 p.m.
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The United States isn’t the only country where killings returned swiftly after pandemic lull

In recent weeks, as mass shootings across the United States dominated headlines, many Americans have observed that the country seems to be returning to something like a pre-pandemic state — shootings included.

But for all the ways in which gun violence is a distinctly American problem, the idea that killings are ramping up as people move back toward their usual routines isn’t necessarily unique.

Although the number of homicides sharply decreased in numerous countries during the early months of the coronavirus shutdown, “any significant changes were short-lived and pre-pandemic dynamics soon returned,” a recent research brief from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime concluded.

Analyzing monthly crime data from 21 countries, researchers found that the majority did experience a significant drop in the number of homicide victims during March and April of 2020. By the summer, however, the number of victims was back to usual. That trend proved true in some European countries, including Italy and Spain, where homicides are more frequently linked to domestic violence, and in Latin American nations, including Colombia and Guatemala, where the rates are higher and often linked to organized crime.

7:38 p.m.
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Health officials lean toward resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccine — with a warning

Federal health authorities are leaning toward recommending that use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine resume, possibly as soon as this weekend — a move that would include a new warning about a rare complication involving blood clots but probably not call for age restrictions.

The position would be similar to one taken by Europe’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, which said this week that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should carry a warning but placed no restrictions on its use. The European agency said the shot’s benefits continue to outweigh the risks.

The current stance of U.S. authorities was described by two government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They said the position could be affected if there were a sudden flood of reports of blood clot cases, which appears unlikely, or if other surprises emerged connected to the vaccine.

6:32 p.m.
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Covid-19 reaches Everest base camp

When Nepal welcomed foreign climbers back to Mount Everest for the spring climbing season, many feared that it was only a matter of time before the coronavirus made its way to the world’s highest peak.

Sure enough, just weeks into the season, covid-19 has been found at Everest’s base camp, sparking a renewed debate about whether Nepal’s reliance on the mountain as a source of revenue is getting in the way of safety.

On Wednesday, Outside magazine first reported that a climber at Everest base camp had been evacuated by helicopter for what was believed to be high-altitude pulmonary edema and tested positive for the coronavirus upon arriving at a hospital in Kathmandu last week. The New York Times subsequently reported that there had in fact been multiple climbers who tested positive after being flown out of base camp.

The exact number of cases is unknown, and Nepal’s tourism ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

4:52 p.m.
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Reinfection with coronavirus is rare, data from 63 million medical records shows

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the frightening mysteries stemmed from anecdotes about people previously stricken with covid-19 getting sick again a few months later. The possibility of reinfection raised the specter of a never-ending pandemic.

But an analysis of 63 million medical records by data scientists shows that while reinfection is possible, it is rare.

Out of about 400,000 people with positive tests for the coronavirus, only 0.4 percent tested positive twice in a period more than 90 days apart, according to the study by health-care software company Epic Systems. A larger portion tested positive twice within that time frame, but the data scientists determined those tests were likely to represent a person who shed inert fragments of the virus from an initial infection.

The data set has limitations, but the finding backs up mounting evidence from other sources.

A study in Israel examined 150,000 people who tested positive and found that reinfections appeared to occur at a frequency of around 1 in 1,000. And while a study of 3,000 members of the U.S. Marine Corps found that reinfection was relatively common — about 10 percent — more than 80 percent of those reinfected showed no symptoms.

Reinfections will continue to be an area that is tracked as the virus evolves. Variants, such as the one that emerged in Brazil, appear to be capable of evading some of the immune defenses from previous infection to cause reinfections. Vaccines appear to be effective against variants, particularly in preventing severe disease.

3:30 p.m.
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South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa will resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to immunize health-care workers against the coronavirus, the government announced Thursday.

The country suspended the vaccination program after a report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed rare blood clots in six people who received the vaccine in the United States. There have been no incidents of blood clots reported in South Africa.

“The re-implementation will commence as soon as the department is ready with all the systems,” acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said.

Roughly 290,000 of the country’s 1.2 million health workers have been given the J&J vaccine in a study that is evaluating the vaccine before a mass rollout to combat an aggressive variant detected in the country last fall.

The government has said it has secured 31 million doses of the J&J vaccine and 30 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech.

3:28 p.m.
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E.U. to pursue legal action against AstraZeneca over vaccine shortfalls

The European Union is set to take legal action against Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for failing to supply the vast majority of vaccine doses it was contracted to deliver, two diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations told The Washington Post.

However, many details have to be finalized before any legal action can proceed, such as whether the suit would be filed by the European Commission and whether E.U. nations can join in on the legal action.

“The Commission wants to work fast,” said a EU diplomat, adding that the goal was to move forward in a "matter of days.”

Politico Europe reported Wednesday that the matter was raised at a meeting of ambassadors, during which the majority said they would support taking legal action against AstraZeneca. Reuters also reported the commission was drawing up plans to sue the company, quoting an E.U. official involved in talks with drugmakers.

The dispute between the two sides started in January when AstraZeneca informed the European Union that it would deliver less than half of the 100 million doses it pledged to provide in the first quarter, out of a total of 300 million doses for the year.

Since then, the company has said it will only deliver 70 million doses of the 180 million required in the second quarter.

The Commission Thursday also said it would not take an option as part of the contract to buy an additional 100 million doses, instead relying on other vaccine makers to bolster the bloc’s vaccination campaigns.

2:38 p.m.
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Analysis: The U.S. may be nearing a vaccine tipping point

For more than four months, demand for the coronavirus vaccines has far outstripped supply.

But it’s possible that the United States is nearing — or has already hit — the point where supply outstrips demand.

About 3 million people are receiving shots every day, down from a high of about 3.3 million last week. That rate is still sufficient for vaccinating a large portion of the U.S. adult population by the summertime, when many hope life will return to normal.

But there has been a 9 percent decrease in the average number of daily shots administered over the past week.

“The downturn hits as half of all eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine dose. And it coincided with the pause last week of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is under review by a panel of experts following a handful of cases of severe blood clotting,” The Washington Post’s Dan Keating, Fenit Nirappil and Isaac Stanley-Becker report.