(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Biden says Trump ‘did not do his job’ on vaccination
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday said the coronavirus vaccination program he inherited from Donald Trump was in “much worse shape” than he had expected, while announcing the government had bought 200 million more doses.
“We’re not going to have everything fixed for a while, but we’re going to fix it,” Biden said in remarks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
With demand for the vaccine far outstripping supply, Americans are struggling to get appointments for their inoculations, leaving Biden with an acute problem less than a month after taking over from Trump.
Cases in Eastern Europe surpass 10 million
The number of COVID-19 cases in eastern Europe surpassed 10 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as countries across the region aim to increase vaccine procurements from multiple suppliers to accelerate inoculation programmes.
Countries in eastern Europe have reported more than 10.02 million cases and 214,691 deaths since the pandemic started. However, daily average new cases in the region have declined by about 31% in past 30 days as compared with the previous 30 days, according to a Reuters analysis.
Melbourne in new lockdown
Australia’s second-most populous city will enter a five-day snap lockdown, authorities said on Friday, banning spectators for much of the Australian Open tennis tournament.
A fresh COVID-19 cluster linked to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, reached 13 cases as of Thursday midnight, as authorities rushed to quash the spread of the virus. All of those infections were linked to the highly contagious UK variant.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lockdown for the state, starting at midnight on Friday, calling it a “short, sharp circuit breaker” banning public gatherings, home auctions, weddings and religious gatherings.
Portugal extends lockdown
Portugal extended a lockdown until March 1 or perhaps later to tackle its worst surge of infections since the pandemic began.
“The situation is still extremely serious and requires these measures to be extended not just until the end of February but probably until the end of March,” said Prime Minister Antonio Costa. “It’s not the time to discuss the end of lockdown.”
The country of just over 10 million fared better than other nations in Europe in the first wave of the pandemic, but 2021 brought a devastating surge.
Battle to vaccinate Amazon villagers
Medical teams working to immunize Brazil’s remote indigenous villages have encountered fierce resistance in some communities where evangelical missionaries are stoking fears of the vaccine, say tribal leaders and advocates.
On the São Francisco reservation in the state of Amazonas, Jamamadi villagers sent health workers packing with bows and arrows when they visited by helicopter this month, said Claudemir da Silva, a leader representing indigenous communities.
“It’s not happening in all villages, just in those that have missionaries or evangelical chapels where pastors are convincing the people not to receive the vaccine, that they will turn into an alligator and other crazy ideas,” he said by phone.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes)