PRAGUE — Bells tolled across the Czech Republic at noon Monday to honor those who have died of COVID-19 in one of the hardest-hit European Union countries.
A 95-year-old man, who is the first known Czech victim, died on March 22, 2020 at Prague’s Bulovka hospital.
The death toll has reached almost 25,000 since the start of the pandemic in the nation of 10.7 million.
Coronavirus infections have been on the decline since the government imposed a tight lockdown earlier this month, but new cases and death rates still remain high.
Petr Pospichal, a former anti-Communist dissident who helped organize the remembrance, told Czech public radio that it was the right thing to do for people to observe a minute of silence wherever they were.
Pospichal says it’s also necessary to realize that the pandemic isn’t over yet and people are still dying.
The country has almost 1.5 million confirmed cases, and 24,810 deaths.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minster said Monday that the government is seeing a significant increase in people wanting Astrazeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.
“I received a report that there are far more people willing to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said during a visit to a new temporary COVID-19 hospital in Radom. “This is very good news.”
Poland has been ramping up pandemic restrictions in recent weeks amid a dramatic spike in the number of new coronavirus infections.
Last week, many Poles canceled or didn’t show up for appointments to receive the AstraZeneca shot amid reports of rare blood clots. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said the vaccine doesn’t increase the overall incidence of blood clots, though it couldn’t rule out a link to a small number of rare clots.
NEW DELHI, India — Russia’s sovereign wealth fund announced a manufacturing deal with the Indian pharmaceutical maker Virchow Biotech Private Limited for making 200 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine each year.
This is the fourth manufacturing deal announced by Russia, and 700 million doses of the Russian vaccine will now be made in India.
Last week, two manufacturing deals for the vaccine in India were announced: Gland Pharma Pvt Ltd., a subsidiary of Chinese pharmaceutical company Fosun Pharma, said Tuesday it would 252 million doses vaccine and Stelis Biopharma partnered to produce and supply 200 million doses of the vaccine. Earlier, a deal to make 100 million doses of the vaccine annually was announced by Indian pharmaceutical firm Hetero Biopharma.
India has been pledged 125 million doses of the vaccine by Russia.
LONDON — AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection against sickness and eliminated hospitalizations and deaths from the disease across all age groups in a late-stage study in the United States, the company announced Monday.
AstraZeneca said its experts did not identify any safety concerns related to the vaccine, including finding no increased risk of rare blood clots identified in Europe.
Although AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been authorized in more than 50 countries, it has not yet been given the green light in the U.S. — and has struggled to gain public trust amid a troubled rollout. The study comprised more than 30,000 volunteers, of whom two-thirds were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots.
BERLIN — Cross-border commuters have lined up at a newly opened testing station on the Polish-German border after Germany reacted to rising coronavirus infections in Poland by imposing new restrictions.
Germany declared Poland a “high-incidence area” starting Sunday, meaning that most people now need a negative test taken with the last 48 hours to enter and need to go into quarantine. Regular work commuters have to get tested twice a week.
Germany didn’t set up full border checks of the kind that have been place on its border with the two countries’ worse-hit neighbor, the Czech Republic, for weeks.
But the dpa news agency reported that there was a long line early Monday morning for a new testing station set up in Frankfurt an der Oder — one of three in Germany’s Brandenburg state. About 150 people waited in frosty temperatures to get tested.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — The president, prime minister and speaker of the parliament of the Baltic country all rolled up their sleeves Monday in a public move to boost general public’s trust in the AstraZeneca jab.
Last week, the Lithuanian health ministry halted the vaccine but authorized again nationwide two days later.
“I encourage our people not to linger any longer and get the jab with the vaccine of their preference” President Gitranas Nauseda told reporters Monday morning. He and Ingrida Simonyte and Viktorija Cmilyte Nielsen — respectively the prime minister and the speaker of the 141-member Seimas assembly — received the vaccine.
Lithuania has reported more than 209,000 cases and 3,476 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of pandemic in 2020. A massive vaccination campaign is planned to start later this spring.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s health minister is requisitioning the services of private sector doctors from certain specialties in the wider Athens region to help fight a renewed surge in coronavirus infections that is straining hospitals to their limits.
Vassilis Kikilias said Monday that despite repeated appeals to private sector doctors to volunteer to help in the public sector, very few came forward. Therefore, he said, he was ordering those from the specialties of pathology, pneumonology and general medicine to help.
The requisition order is for one month for 206 doctors, health authorities said.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Health care workers received the first shots in Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination drive Monday, beginning a campaign that won’t use supplies from China amid uneven distribution of the vaccines globally.
Taiwan has on hand 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it is distributing to healthcare workers across 57 hospitals.
Taiwanese premier Su Tseng-chang launched the drive by receiving the first shot at National Taiwan University Hospital in the capital Taipei. “After 30 minutes of rest, there’s no signs of any discomfort,” he said.
The rest period is for monitoring recipients for any adverse reactions.