Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

India’s vaccine shortage will probably last for months after the government failed to properly plan for a second wave of coronavirus infections, the head of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer said.

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of India’s Serum Institute, made the remarks in an interview Sunday with the Financial Times. He said he has been “unfairly” victimized as India’s covid-19 outbreak surged and vaccinations sputtered, due in part to a domestic shortage of vaccines.

A group of scientific advisers to India’s government also said they warned officials in early March that a more transmissible variant was spreading in the nation of some 1.3 billion people, Reuters reported. Authorities, however, refrained from taking more drastic measures to prevent a surge.

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Food and Drug Administration is expected to expand emergency authorization to allow children as young as 12 to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine by next week, according to federal officials familiar with the development.
  • The European Union is recommending member states ease restrictions on nonessential travel to open for vaccinated visitors, bringing European vacations for Americans closer to reality.
  • The United States this week will start talks with the World Trade Organization to potentially lift intellectual property rights on lifesaving coronavirus vaccines, as the devastating covid-19 outbreak in India puts pressure on the White House to move more rapidly to help stem the crisis.
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected criticism over his administration’s decision to ban travel from India and to fine or jail anyone who disobeys, including Australian citizens.
  • India during the weekend set records for case and death counts as the outbreak grinds on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party faired poorly in regional elections, presaging a possible backlash to his leadership during the crisis.
  • Olympic officials unveiled their plans to keep the Tokyo Games safe and running, as many in Japan still wonder why they are going forward.
  • U.S. case numbers continued their steady slide, falling to a seven-day average of around 50,000 new infections a day, comparable to last October. More than 576,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States.
3:45 a.m.
Link copied
link

Australia’s new travel rules for India ban return home for citizens

Even in the pandemic era of closed borders, Australia’s latest travel restriction stands out: Anyone, including Australian citizens, who arrives in the country after visiting India in the previous 14 days can face up to five years in jail, a $50,000 fine or both.

On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the move. Morrison pushed back against critics who said the new restrictions were racist because of their large impact on Australian citizens of Indian heritage.

“This is about health,” Morrison said during a Monday radio interview, adding that he was “deeply, deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in India.”

3:00 a.m.
Link copied
link

Vaccinating the hard to reach people in the Shenandoah Valley

“Thank God,” S. Jeanie Clark thought to herself this week, as a nurse and sheriff’s deputy showed up at her door.

Clark, 77, sat on the edge of a hospital bed wedged into the living room of her Front Royal, Va., home that she hasn’t left since she was diagnosed with double pneumonia a year ago.

She was one of 17 people whom the nurse and deputy visited on Wednesday as they brought coronavirus vaccine to homebound seniors, one by one.

In Virginia and around the country, supplies of vaccine have begun outstripping demand for shots, forcing public health officials to shift their focus from large-scale clinics to creative and targeted strategies for delivering vaccine to hard-to-reach populations.

That means driving doses around rural counties and small towns, deploying mobile units the size of ice cream trucks with as few as 50 shots to neighborhoods.

2:00 a.m.
Link copied
link

E.U. plan would open Europe to vaccinated tourists by the end of June

The European Union on Monday announced a road map to allowing vaccinated people from outside the bloc to travel to Europe, foretelling a more normal and connected continent after more than a year in which its boulevards and beauty have been off-limits to most of the world.

The proposal, which could be in place by the end of June, will give hope to travelers from the United States and other countries with aggressive coronavirus vaccination programs who are eager to return to some of the globe’s most popular destinations.

Europe would grant fully vaccinated people and their children the chance to visit, regardless of the coronavirus outbreak levels in their countries. Unvaccinated citizens of non-European countries would be allowed to visit as the health situation improves in their countries.

1:00 a.m.
Link copied
link

Vaccine hesitancy among police officers spurs safety concerns

Police officers were among the first front-line workers to gain priority access to coronavirus vaccines. But their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public, according to data made available by some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.

The reluctance of police to get the shots threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say.

At the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, just 39 percent of employees have gotten at least one dose, officials said, compared to more than 50 percent of eligible adults nationwide. In Atlanta, 36 percent of sworn officers have been vaccinated. And a mere 28 percent of those employed by the Columbus Division of Police — Ohio’s largest police department — report having received a shot.

12:00 a.m.
Link copied
link

GOP Doctors Caucus, public health group roll out new pro-vaccine ads

Rep. Mariannenette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) encouraged all Americans to take any authorized vaccine as part of a series of PSAs by elected Republicans. (GOP Covid)

Thirteen Republican lawmakers and a public health foundation teamed up on a new series of public service announcements, as officials work to win over holdouts who are disproportionately Republican.

The PSAs, produced by the de Beaumont Foundation and featuring members of the GOP Doctors Caucus, were released Monday. While some vaccine skeptics have panned pitches from politicians — including high-profile PSAs starring former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — the GOP lawmakers say they believe their message will hold unique appeal, given their medical ties.

“What separates us from the former presidents is we’re all physicians and health-care providers,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), head of the GOP Doctors Caucus, whose members appear in the ads. “And so we’re doing the ads in white coats, because that’s what people trust.”

“While I am a doctor, I am also a Republican member of Congress, and I fully respect that this is your decision to make. Talk to your doctor. Get all the information you need. And decide which vaccine is best for you," Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said in one ad.

About a quarter of adults say they’re not planning to get vaccinated, including about 40 percent of people who lean Republican, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll released last week.

The Biden administration applauded the ads, and Brian Castrucci, head of the de Beaumont Foundation, argued the PSAs will help take politics out of the push to immunize America.

“I hope the ads from these Republican Congress people bring an end to the partisanship debate around vaccines,” he added. “If anyone says there’s a political party against these vaccines, I’ve got videos to show you.”

11:06 p.m.
Link copied
link

Shot and a beer: New Jersey promotes vaccination with a drink offer

New Jersey has brewed a new campaign to persuade its residents to get vaccinated: free beer.

New Jersey residents 21 and older who get their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine during May can take their vaccination card to a participating brewery to score their beverage, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday. More than a dozen breweries across the state are part of the “Shot and a Beer” program crafted by the health department and the Brewers Guild of New Jersey to get people hopping into vaccine appointments.

The effort is one of the latest promoted by governments and businesses to entice people who are hesitant about vaccination and reward those who get their shots amid a decline in vaccine demand that has fueled concerns about the country’s chance at herd immunity.

Almost one-third of Americans are vaccinated, while about one-third of U.S. adults say they either won’t get vaccinated or are uncertain, according to a Morning Consult poll from April.

Among other states offering perks for getting vaccinated, Maryland will give state employees who get their shot $100, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Monday. West Virginia is offering a $100 savings bond to every vaccinated person between the ages of 16 and 35. Meanwhile, like New Jersey, Connecticut opted to buy a round: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced last week that adults can get a free drink at certain restaurants if they show their vaccination card.

10:07 p.m.
Link copied
link

Biden predicts country’s vaccine effort will be in ‘very different position’ by end of summer

Biden wouldn’t say Monday when the United States would reach herd immunity from the coronavirus, but he predicted that by the end of the summer the country “would be in a very different place than we are now” in the effort to get Americans vaccinated.

“There’s this debate over what constitutes herd immunity, is it 70 percent of the population? Sixty-eight percent, 81 percent? The point is that by the end of the summer, right now, every single person 16 years or older doesn’t have to wait in line, can show up and get a vaccination now,” the president said when asked about herd immunity after remarks at a community college in Virginia.

Echoing his past appeals to hesitant Americans, Biden called on people to get their shots.

“My plea to everyone, get vaccinated now,” he said.

Nearly one-third of Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

9:24 p.m.
Link copied
link

‘We are no longer in a state of emergency’: DeSantis suspends Florida’s covid-19 restrictions

Against the sunny backdrop of a waterfront restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed Monday that local ordinances to curb the spread of the coronavirus were no longer needed, signing an executive order to suspend any outstanding orders.

“We are no longer in a state of emergency,” DeSantis (R) said.

He did, however, extend the state of emergency for 60 days.

On the same day, Florida reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus infections and more than 40 deaths, the second-highest daily death toll in the country.

The announcement is the latest swipe DeSantis has made at local leaders who enacted stricter coronavirus rules. He previously waived fines imposed on people and businesses flouting orders. DeSantis has slammed officials’ efforts to reduce the spread of the virus and touted his state as “free” in comparison with Democratic-led states.

In a news conference Monday, DeSantis said that local officials’ coronavirus-related orders were unnecessary, issuing a suspension of outstanding rules with the executive order. In addition, he signed a bill that would take effect July 1 limiting local governments’ ability to enforce public health measures in the future. The legislation also restricts businesses, schools and other entities from requiring people to provide documentation of their coronavirus vaccination.

“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” he said to applause. “I think folks that are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, you really are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the science.”

Mayors, especially Democratic officials, were critical of the decision by DeSantis, considered a Republican contender for president in 2024.

“This isn’t for the protection of Floridians. This is for politics, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman (D) said.

“The ‘evidence-based thing to do’ is follow the science,” the state’s top Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, tweeted. “We should be empowering local leaders & companies to protect their communities and get their economies back on track.”

7:45 p.m.
Link copied
link

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to lift most regulations by May 19

New York and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut will lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses starting this month.

In what New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) cast as a “major reopening,” the tri-state area plans to end the majority of capacity restrictions beginning May 19. Stores, restaurants, fitness centers, salons, entertainment venues and offices in the three states will be allowed to operate without capacity limits for the first time since restrictions were put in place last year, as New York City emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic.

“The tide is turning against COVID-19 in New York,” Cuomo said in a news release.

The announcement came days after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) declared July 1 as the date for a full reopening. The governor and mayor have clashed throughout the pandemic; Cuomo’s decision moved up the timeline de Blasio had set by more than a month.

Connecticut had previously announced that all remaining business restrictions, including on large-event venues, would be eliminated by May 19.

Under the plan Cuomo announced Monday for New York and New Jersey, business capacity limits will be replaced by a requirement that they maintain six feet of distance between individuals.

Restrictions will also be loosened on indoor and outdoor events and gatherings in New York. The cap on social gatherings and events will increase May 19 to 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors, with more people allowed if they present proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

Large-scale venues, meanwhile, will also be allowed to host more guests in New York. Beginning May 19, indoor venues can operate at 30 percent capacity, up from 10 percent. Outdoor venues such as stadiums can operate at 33 percent. Social distancing and other public health measures will still apply, the news release said.

Cuomo’s statement did not mention if restrictions on events and gatherings would change in New Jersey.

5:34 p.m.
Link copied
link

For D.C. walk-up vaccine clinic, every shot is a small victory

A man experiencing homelessness came from across town after hearing he wouldn’t need an appointment to get the coronavirus vaccine. A grieving mother saw the clinic’s white tents while doing an errand. A construction worker was grateful to stop in for a shot during his first weekday off in seven months.

All three were part of the slow trickle of walk-in vaccination patients at the Bread for the City clinic in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood last week, part of a shift in the nation’s capital from online appointments to drop-in sites.

City residents can still make appointments to get the lifesaving vaccines online at vaccines.gov. But with the initial crush of demand subsiding, the District — like jurisdictions across the country — is also launching numerous walk-in sites, reflecting the need to accommodate those who, for whatever reason, are not able or willing to make an appointment in advance.

4:42 p.m.
Link copied
link

‘A small glimpse of heaven’: Americans are returning to church

Over 13 months, Sunday church had devolved for Justin Chang into sitting at a laptop in his room, alone in his sweatpants, watching services online. Sometimes he would sleep in and miss the live service altogether.

For Chang, the pandemic was a spiritual shock. Before, much of his communal life revolved around church, in particular Christ Central Presbyterian Church in Centreville, Va.

On Sunday, the tall 26-year-old civil engineer beamed as he walked into the bright, sunny church, fist-bumping at check-in, then greeting a high school friend who became the church drummer. During the service, Chang watched the lights come down and people around him reach out their arms in prayer. He stood with his eyes closed, feeling the vibrations of the band’s music.

He was back at church.

“It’s like a small glimpse of heaven,” he said.

3:30 p.m.
Link copied
link

Schools move to abandon quarantine for exposed students

In the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, Superintendent Matt Miller kept school doors open. But the coronavirus kept pushing students out. In the fall semester, he counted 5,172 student quarantines.

It meant a constant jostling of teaching and learning.

“We have had students who had to quarantine three times,” said Miller, of Lakota Local Schools, among Ohio’s larger school systems with 17,000 students.

But that has changed. In the continuing struggle to strike a balance between safety and classroom learning, Ohio joined a handful of states that have now remade their rules to cut back on student quarantines. Many point to lower-than-expected spread of the virus inside schools and note that school leaders say there are few infections among students who quarantine. In Ohio’s case, quarantines are no longer required for potential classroom exposures as long as students were masked and other safeguards were in place.

2:28 p.m.
Link copied
link

What to do if you get covid-19 between vaccine doses

It is rare, but not unheard of, for people getting the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines to contract covid-19 mid-vaccination — that is, between doses.

The two-dose mRNA vaccines, authorized for emergency use last year by the Food and Drug Administration, were shown in U.S. clinical trials to be about 95 percent effective at preventing infection among those who were fully vaccinated.

But the vaccines are less effective — about 80 percent — between the first and second doses, according to a real-world study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means about 20 percent of those who are only partially vaccinated could still get infected.

Health experts say that does not mean people in that camp should skip the second dose.

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-diseases expert, said this month that people can get the second shot after recovering from the infection and meeting the criteria for discontinuing isolation.

1:26 p.m.
Link copied
link

How the pandemic might change us

Could the pandemic make us better people?

For those of us lucky to emerge from the past year intact — physically, mentally, financially — there are many reasons to be grateful. Theoretically, we could use this experience to become more thoughtful and intentional, less judgmental and reactive. We could appreciate more and criticize less. We could, in a word, be nicer.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been awash in feel-good stories about celebrating essential workers, uplifting local businesses, appreciating what we have — all shining a light on our better angels.

But, if experts in history and science are any guide, this altruism is probably not going to last. We are more likely to put this behind us as soon as possible, dive back into life with abandon and push boundaries. If anything, we will probably be less concerned with what other people think. Carpe diem, baby.