PARIS — A 116-year-old French nun who is believed to be the world’s second-oldest person has survived COVID-19 and is looking forward to celebrating her 117th birthday on Thursday.

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Sister Andre is interviewed by an official at the Sainte Catherine Laboure Nursing Home in Toulon, France, on Tuesday. The 116-year-old nun tested positive for COVID-19 virus in mid-January but just three weeks later she is fit as a fiddle – albeit it in her regular wheelchair. BFM TV via AP

The Gerontology Research Group, which validates details of people thought to be 110 or older, lists Frenchwoman Lucile Randon – Sister André’s birth name – as the second-oldest known living person in the world.

French media report that Sister André tested positive for the virus in mid-January in the southern French city of Toulon. But just three weeks later, the nun is considered recovered.

“I didn’t even realize I had it,” she told French newspaper Var-Matin.

Sister André, who is blind and uses a wheelchair, did not even worry when she received her diagnosis.

Read the full story here.

Two-pronged task of giving 1st and 2nd doses complicates vaccine effort

The U.S. has entered a tricky phase of the COVID-19 vaccination effort as providers try to ramp up the number of people getting first shots while also ensuring a growing number of others get second doses just when millions more Americans are becoming eligible to receive vaccines.

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A woman asks directions at the entrance to Vista View Park where a COVID-19 vaccination site has opened for second doses in Davie, Fla., in January. Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via Associated Press

The need to give each person two doses a few weeks apart vastly complicates the country’s biggest-ever vaccination campaign. And persistent uncertainty about future vaccine supplies fuels worries that some people will not be able to get their second shots in time.

In some cases, local health departments and providers have said they must temporarily curb or even cancel appointments for first doses to ensure there are enough second doses for people who need them.

After getting her first COVID-19 vaccine shot, Sarah Bouse was told she would be notified to set up the second. But the notice never came, and she frantically called the Houston Health Department to schedule the booster the evening before it was due.

“It was frustrating — the waiting game and the conflicting information,” said Bouse, who is 26 and eligible because of a health condition. After hours on the phone, she finally got through to someone and scheduled the shot.

For about the past month, the U.S. has administered an average of 900,000 first doses each day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed by The Associated Press. Now many of those people are due for second doses, and states are trying to administer first doses to an expanded pool of recipients.

“It’s really important and critical to recognize that there are still not enough doses to go around,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, about 10 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, About 3 percent has received both doses, the AP analysis showed.

Across Los Angeles County, health officials say limited supplies mean the majority of vaccinations this week will be for second doses. In the state’s Napa County, some appointments for first doses were canceled last week to ensure there would be enough for second doses.

“We’re getting a lot of the questions from community members asking, ‘Is my second dose in jeopardy?’ And right now, we don’t have an answer because it’s all dependent on the inventory that comes in from the state,” said Alfredo Pedroza, a county supervisor.

Both COVID-19 vaccines being distributed in the U.S. require two shots a few weeks apart to maximize protection. For Pfizer, the doses are supposed to be three weeks apart. For Moderna, it’s four weeks. But if needed, the booster be delayed for up to six weeks, according to the CDC, which updated its guidance late last month.

State and local health officials now emphasize that extended time frame in public messaging to alleviate worries that people might not get their second shots on time. Federal officials have also said they are confident there will be enough doses to ensure people get their second shots.

Fueling the concerns in some places is the difficulty of booking the second dose. Although many places schedule the booster when the first shot is given, others ask people to schedule them later on because of logistical issues.

MLB, players’ union agree to health and safety protocols, clearing way for spring training

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to health and safety protocols for the 2021 season Monday night, according to multiple people familiar with the agreement.

The deal clears the way for an on-time start to spring training, and just in time: Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report and begin workouts at facilities in Arizona and Florida next week.

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Empty seats are viewed in Busch Stadium as St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty throws in the first inning baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in St. Louis on July 24, 2020. Major League Baseball players rejected a proposal to delay the start of spring training and the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, vowing Monday, Feb. 1, to report under the original schedule. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

When they report, players, coaches, on-field staff and other essential personnel will be subject to covid-19 protocols that are similar, but not identical, to the ones the sport used last season, according to a copy of the protocols obtained by The Post.

Among the biggest changes are an increased emphasis on contact tracing with the same Kinexon device used by the NFL and NBA, as first reported by the Athletic.

The agreement also calls for increased discipline for those who violate the guidance, which could include unpaid suspensions or forfeiture of salary for those who are forced to miss time.

In terms of competition, the biggest change to the 2020 agreement is the lack of a universal designated hitter, something both sides had agreed to last year.

“We were able to complete a successful and memorable 2020 season due to the efforts and sacrifices made by our players, Club staff and MLB employees to protect one another. The 2021 season will require a redoubling of those efforts as we play a full schedule with increased travel under a non-regionalized format,” the league said in a statement. “We have built on last year’s productive collaboration between MLB and the Players Association by developing an enhanced safety plan with the consultation of medical experts, infectious disease specialists, and experts from other leagues.”

To account for the challenges the coronavirus pandemic can pose to rosters, doubleheaders will be shortened to two seven-inning games, rosters will expand from 25 to 26 (28 in September), and there will be no limit on the number of pitchers on the active roster.

The fact an agreement exists represents important progress for groups that have refused to agree on much all offseason.

Just last week, the players’ union rejected MLB’s latest proposal to delay the season while implementing an expanded postseason and universal designated hitter for 2021. People within MLB expressed displeasure at the union’s unwillingness to make a counteroffer. The union was not obligated to do so because both sides have signed on to the collective bargaining agreement and neither is obligated to renegotiate it.

Read the full story here.

WHO questions whether vaccine will work against variants

GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization said Monday the emergence of new COVID-19 variants has raised questions about whether or not existing vaccines will work, calling it “concerning news” that the vaccines developed so far may be less effective against the variant first detected in South Africa.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, expressed disappointment last week over delays regarding the origins investigation. Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing that South Africa’s decision on Sunday to suspend its vaccination campaign using the AstraZeneca vaccine is “a reminder that we need to do everything we can to reduce circulation of the virus with proven public health measures.”

He said it was increasingly clear that vaccine manufacturers would need to tweak their existing shots to address the ongoing genetic evolution of the coronavirus, saying booster shots would most likely be necessary, especially since new variants of the virus are now spreading globally and appear likely to become the predominant strains.

College fundraising flattens in another blow from pandemic

Charitable giving to U.S. colleges fell flat last year as the pandemic upended another aspect of higher education.

Schools took in $49.5 billion in the most recent fiscal year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Council for Advancement & Support of Education. The total, essentially unchanged from the prior year, marks the first time since 2009 that contributions haven’t risen. For most schools, the survey represents the 12 months through June.

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People walk on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus in Baltimore in 2014. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

“Without the pandemic, giving probably would have been up and been a very good year,” Ann Kaplan, who directs the survey, said in an interview.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore topped the fundraising list for the second straight year, with $1.5 billion. Stanford University followed with $1.36 billion and Harvard University took in $1.2 billion.

The covid-19 pandemic is putting colleges under increasing financial pressure. With enrollments down, they’re collecting less revenue from students in dorms and dining halls. They’re also racking up new expenses for covid-19 tests, retrofits such as adding plexiglass and upgraded technology.

Johns Hopkins said its tally includes money from the Gates, W.P. Carey and Stavros Niarchos foundations, Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, in addition to anonymous donors supporting a building project in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Almost 900 colleges and universities responded to the survey, and CASE estimated a total for institutions that didn’t participate.

WHO team says coronavirus likely jumped to humans

WUHAN, China — A World Health Organization team has concluded that the coronavirus most likely jumped to humans from an animal.

WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek announced that assessment Tuesday at the end of a visit by a WHO team that is investigating the possible origins of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The first cases were discovered in Wuhan in December 2019. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has collected extensive virus samples, leading to allegations that it may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into the surrounding community. China has strongly rejected that possibility.

The WHO team is intended to be an initial step delving into the origins of the virus, which is believed to have originated in bats before being passed to humans through another species of wild animal, such as a pangolin or bamboo rat, which is considered an exotic delicacy by some in China.

The pandemic has killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide. China has reported more than 100,000 confirmed cases and 4,822 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world with more than 465,000 deaths.

Belgium to begin vaccinating people under 65

BRUSSELS — Belgium will use the 443,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine the country will receive over the course of February to vaccinate people under the age of 55.

Regulators in the country of 11.5 million inhabitants have advised against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for older people due a lack of data about its efficacy, so Belgium’s vaccination task force has reshaped its strategy.

It decided that the doses will go in priority to health care workers under 55 as well as residents and staff in collective care institutions in that age group. Sabine Stordeur, who co-chairs the task force, said on Tuesday that people from high-risk groups with underlying conditions and police officers working in the field will also be offered AstraZeneca injections.

People over 55 will continue to receive the two other vaccines approved in the EU, Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna.

Infection numbers have reached a plateau in Belgium, with new daily cases between 2,000 and 2,500, while coronavirus-related deaths are decreasing. So far, some 336,300 Belgium’s residents have received a first vaccine dose.

Norway extends travel restrictions through mid-April

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway has extended its global travel restrictions until April 15, advising against trips that are not strictly necessary and urging people to stay home for the Easter break.

“The infection situation globally means that very many countries have very strict restrictions on entry, as well as extensive infection control measures,” the Foreign Ministry in Oslo said.

“We are still far from a normal situation, and the infection situation in many parts of the world is changing rapidly,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Norwegian News Agency NTB.

Neighboring Estonia on Tuesday lifted some of its travel restrictions saying travelers from Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Iceland and Norway are not subject to its 10-day quarantine starting Feb. 15.

Two percent of Mississippi vaccines have gone to out-of-staters

JACKSON, Miss. — Officials in Mississippi say about 2% of the coronavirus vaccinations given so far in the state have gone to people with out-of-state addresses.

Mississippi guidelines say vaccination is available to anyone 65 or older or to those who are least 16 years old and have underlying health conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the virus.

The state’s top public health officials said Monday that the vaccination is supposed to be limited to Mississippi residents, or to people from other states who work in Mississippi. However, they said people giving the shots do not check identification or verify that out-of-state residents work in Mississippi.

The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune recently reported that Louisiana residents are traveling to Mississippi to be vaccinated because Louisiana has tighter vaccination eligibility guidelines.

Alabama drastically expands vaccine eligibility

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Hundreds of people have showed up at Alabama vaccination sites as the state drastically expands eligibility to receive immunizations against the coronavirus.

Starting Monday, people who qualify for vaccinations in Alabama include everyone 65 and older, educators, grocery store workers, some manufacturing workers, public transit workers, agriculture employees, state legislators and constitutional officers.

Only health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and people 75 and older were eligible previously.

The change means as many as 1.5 million people in the state now qualify for shots, up from about 700,000. But vaccine supply is still limited, and officials are asking people who aren’t at high risk for becoming ill to let other people get vaccines first.

Michigan judge dismisses case against hair stylists who opened against state rules

LANSING, Mich. — A judge in Michigan has dismissed disorderly conduct charges against six hair stylists who were ticketed last spring during a protest at the state Capitol.

The women were cutting hair to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to keep barber shops and salons closed for nearly three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The women argued the tickets should be dismissed because the state Supreme Court ruled in October that many Whitmer orders were issued under an unconstitutional law.

Lansing District Judge Kristen Simmons granted the request Monday.

There was no immediate comment from the attorney general’s office.

Biden, Harris conduct virtual tour of Arizona mass vaccination site

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris “virtually toured” a federally supported mass-vaccination site Monday in Glendale, Arizona.

The drive-thru 24-hour facility at the State Farm Stadium is giving one COVID-19 shot about every 10 seconds.

Biden and Harris have promised to open 100 similar sites across the country in the coming weeks and have called on Congress to provide funding for even more. Biden has ramped up federal support for the facilities through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pentagon.

The president said he is ahead of pace to deliver on his promise of providing 100 million injections in the first 100 days of his presidency, saying, “I think we’ll exceed that considerably.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that more than 22 million doses have been given since Biden’s inauguration less than three weeks ago.

Washington state hospitals learn N95 masks were fake

SEATTLE — Dozens of Washington state hospitals have learned N95 respirator masks believed to be purchased from 3M Company are counterfeits that were not manufactured by the company.

The Seattle Times reported the Washington State Hospital Association alerted the state’s hospitals about a notification from 3M that some masks were knockoffs.

The association has asked the state’s 115 hospitals to sort through mask supplies and pull potentially affected equipment.

Several hospitals sent masks to 3M for testing and the company confirmed some were counterfeit.

It is unclear whether the counterfeit masks are less safe than those manufactured by 3M.


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