KENSINGTON, Md. — A new study finds that cleaner air from the pandemic lockdown warmed the planet a bit in 2020, especially in places such as the eastern United States, Russia and China.
Tuesday’s study found the pandemic lockdown reduced soot and sulfate air pollution, but those particles also reflect the sun’s heat and help cool areas briefly.
The end result is that some places warmed temporarily as much as two-thirds of a degree last year and the planet as a whole warmed by about .05 degrees. The study’s lead author said that loss of cooling outweighed any reduction in 2020 of heat-trapping carbon pollution.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
UK tests house-to-house in hunt for new coronavirus variant. WHO experts visit animal disease center in Wuhan. Study: Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine appears safe, effective, Spain cancels San Fermin bull-running festival. Japan extends a state of emergency amid uncertainty over vaccine supplies and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOPEKA, Kan. — Republican lawmakers in Kansas are moving toward formally condemning Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision to give prison inmates COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of others.
The state Senate’s health committee agreed Tuesday to sponsor a resolution from its GOP chair, Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, that calls on Kelly to reverse her policy on inoculating inmates.
The full Senate could debate it later this week.
LANSING, Mich. — An athletic advocacy group, hockey league and parents of athletes have sued Michigan’s health director, seeking a reversal of 2 1/2-month state ban on contact sports that was issued to curb the coronavirus.
Let Them Play Michigan, a group of student-athletes, parents, coaches and school administrators, is among plaintiffs that sued in the Court of Claims Tuesday.
The complaint contends that the order, which was recently extended through Feb. 21, arbitrarily and irrationally singles out and deprives athletes of their constitutional rights and freedoms.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she’s optimistic that the state can move toward reengagement in sports. Spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said the department and governor acted decisively in November as a surge in cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico is on the verge of approving the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V following the publication of early results of an advanced study.
Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell, the government’s pandemic spokesman, says the health ministry signed a contract Monday for 400,000 doses of Sputnik V that will arrive this month.
Once approved, the Russian vaccine would become the third to receive emergency approval in Mexico. The regulating agency approved the Pfizer vaccine in December and AstraZeneca’s in January. Mexico turned to the Russian vaccine following delays in obtaining others it was counting on.
Mexico has so far given about 675,000 doses, all Pfizer, to a population of 126 million. On Tuesday, a second batch of the active substance in the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Mexico, where it will be packed and distributed through the rest of Latin America.
The Mexican government also launched a new website Tuesday for people over age 60 to register for vaccination appointments. However, the Mexican Health Department’s website was quickly overwhelmed and not working.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital says he tested positive for the coronavirus after undergoing an antigen test.
Miguel Romero says on Twitter that he is in isolation and awaiting the results of a molecular test for confirmation. He added the rest of his family has tested negative. He had planned to travel with his daughter to her university.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi also is in isolation after having been in recent contact with Romero.
Romero is one of the highest-ranking government officials in Puerto Rico to test positive. The U.S. territory of 3.2 million people has reported more than 157,000 cases and more than 1,800 deaths.
BRUSSELS — The Belgian government says it won’t administer the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to people over 55, saying there’s still a lack of data about its effectiveness among the elderly.
Health authorities in France, Germany and other countries have raised concerns that the Anglo-Swedish company didn’t test the vaccine in enough older people to prove it works for them and indicated they wouldn’t recommend it for the elderly.
“We don’t have enough info to be sure to say that it is good for the elderly,” says Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
BEIRUT — Lebanon has broken its single-day record of coronavirus deaths with 81 as the country continued its nationwide lockdown for the third week.
The health ministry has registered a total of 306,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Lebanese authorities are expected to hold a meeting later this week to decide whether to begin easing the lockdown.
LAS VEGAS — Nevada has recorded its deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic in January after reporting eight additional coronavirus deaths over the weekend.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the additional deaths on Sunday boosted the statewide death toll for the month to 1,132. That’s more than a quarter of the 4,278 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The state surpassed the previously monthly record of 982 deaths set in December. Health officials also reported 838 new cases.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations as new and potentially more serious virus strains are starting to appear. White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients says the government will initially ship about 1 million doses to some 6,500 pharmacies around the country, starting next week.
That’s expected to accelerate as drugmakers increase production. Drug stores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines. The pharmacy vaccine program will be administered by the CDC and include outlets such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies.
The government has distributed nearly 50 million doses, of which about 32 million have been administered, or more than 60%. That’s a marked improvement from just a few weeks ago. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, taken 21 to 28 days after the first shot.
PARIS — France’s top health advisory body is recommending the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine only be used on people under 65, citing lack of sufficient data about its effectiveness in older people.
The European Medicines Agency authorized AstraZeneca’s vaccine for use in adults throughout the European Union on Friday, amid criticism the bloc is not moving fast enough to vaccinate its population.
But health authorities in Germany, France and some other countries have raised concerns that not enough data exist to prove it works in older people.
France’s High Authority for Health issued its guidance Tuesday. It says it will review this guidance when AstraZeneca has more data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.
NEW YORK — Some vaccination sites in the northeast U.S. remained closed Tuesday, but others were up and running again as the region dug out from a major snowstorm.
In Massachusetts, mass vaccination sites at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium opened and closed early on Monday, but both facilities planned to operate as usual Tuesday. In New York City, vaccination sites run by the city’s public hospital network were running, while others had another day of cancelled appointments. There were scattered closures in Pennsylvania.
Snowfall in the northeast ranged from just a few inches in Boston to 16 inches in New York and more than 30 inches in parts of New Jersey.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday in a procedure streamed live.
The couple was eligible because both are older than 70, the age group that can receive vaccines in Ohio this week. DeWine, a Republican, had said previously he wouldn’t cut in line for the shot but would wait his turn.
The Pfizer dose was administered by Dr. Kevin Sharrett in his southwestern Ohio office. Sharrett said he’s frequently asked about the vaccine’s safety. He says the vaccine is not only safe, it’s a better choice than coming down with the coronavirus.
More than 850,000 people in Ohio have received at least the first dose of the vaccine as of Monday, or about 7% of the population, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will eventually manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.
Canada doesn’t have domestic production and Trudeau expects to use doses made in Europe to vaccinate all Canadians who want to be vaccinated by September.
Trudeau says he’s confident the European Union will respect Canada’s contracts with Pfizer and Moderna but also says Canada needs as much domestic capacity for vaccine production as soon as possible. The EU has talked about tightening rules on exports of vaccines.
The prime minister says two companies — Precision NanoSystems and Novavax — are on track to manufacture vaccines in Canada later this year. He says they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax and pending Health Canada approval, tens of millions of Novavax doses will be made in Canada.
He also says Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems will build a manufacturing facility capable of manufacturing up to 240 million doses of vaccine per year. Canada has the most expansive portfolio of vaccines in the world, ten doses for every Canadian.
MOSCOW — Russian scientists say the Sputnik V vaccine appears safe and effective against the coronavirus. That’s according to early results of an advanced study published in The Lancet medical journal.
The news is a boost for the shot that is increasingly being purchased by countries around the world who are desperate to stop the devastation caused by the pandemic. Researchers say their study involved about 20,000 people and showed the vaccine was about 91% effective.
Scientists not linked to the research acknowledged that the quick rollout of the Russia vaccine was criticized for appearing to cut corners. But they said it was now clear the Russian-made vaccine was another effective shot to fight the pandemic.
Some early results were published in September, but participants had only been followed for about 42 days and there was no comparison group.
The latest study is based on research involving about 20,000 people over age 18 at 25 hospitals in Moscow between September and November. Three quarters got two doses of the Russian vaccine 21 days apart and the remainder got placebo shots.
DODOMA, Tanzania — Tanzania’s health ministry says it has no plans in place to accept coronavirus vaccines.
That comment from Dorothy Gwajima comes just days after the president of the country of 60 million people expressed doubt about the vaccines without offering evidence.
Gwajima insisted Tanzania is safe. During a presentation, she and others didn’t wear face masks. Gwajimia encouraged the public to improve hygiene practices including the use of sanitizers
Tanzania’s government has been widely criticized for its approach to the pandemic. It has not updated its number of coronavirus infections – 509 — since April.
President John Magufuli, 61, has long asserted God has eliminated COVID-19 in Tanzania.
But authorities in Tanzania, from the Catholic church to government institutions, are telling the public and employees that coronavirus exists in the country and precautions must be taken.
The U.S. CDC in its latest travel warning on Tanzania says the country’s level of COVID-19 is “very high.” It gave no details but urged against all travel to the East African nation.
MADRID — The Spanish government says it is tightening restrictions on flights from Brazil and South Africa after coronavirus variants were detected from those countries.
Government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero says starting Wednesday for the next two weeks only flights carrying Spanish nationals or foreign residents in Spain will be allowed land. The measure also allows entry for nationals or residents of the tiny principality Andorra that lies between Spain and France.
Passengers in transit to countries outside the European passport-free Schengen zone will be allowed stop in Spain for a maximum of 24 hours but must not leave airport transit areas. Cargo, medical or humanitarian flights will also be permitted.
Spain already has similar air and sea travel restrictions with Britain.
WUHAN, China — The World Health Organization experts have visited an animal disease center in the Chinese city of Wuhan as part of their investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
A team member says they met with staff in charge of the health of livestock in Hubei province, toured laboratories and had an “in-depth” discussion with questions and answers.
Meanwhile, WHO officials in Geneva were pushing back against suggestions the team was not getting enough access or data. The officials said the agency was continuing to ask for more data. They also said the team planned to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, considered among the major sources of information about the origins of the coronavirus.