Germany’s hundreds of thousands of unused vaccine doses
Two weeks after 1.45 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Germany, only 270,986 have been administered, public health officials said, even as people around the world clamor for inoculations and many countries have seen severe shortages.
Many Germans — including health workers — are skipping appointments or refusing to sign up for the AstraZeneca shot, which they fear is less effective than the one developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech, the officials say.
That reluctance has been fueled by weeks of negative coverage in the German media, which has portrayed AstraZeneca’s vaccine as “second-class” and published stories of people suffering adverse reactions.
By the numbers: Clinical trials do suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech shot’s efficacy, at 95 percent, is higher than AstraZeneca’s, which is between 60 and 90 percent depending on factors like the spacing of doses. Still, it is difficult to directly compare vaccines unless they are tested head-to-head in the same trial.
In other developments:
Corruption scandals are showing how powerful and well-connected people in South America jumped the vaccine line.
The rates of Covid-19 infection across Europe have been cut in half from their winter peaks, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
European leaders are calling for a “vaccine passport” before the summer tourism season arrives.
Moderna said it would test vaccines modified to protect against a variant first discovered in South Africa.
Political turmoil in Armenia
Armenia, which lost a humiliating and bloody war with its neighbor Azerbaijan last fall, slipped into a political crisis on Thursday after what its prime minister called an “attempted military coup.”
The fracas began recently, when a political opponent accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of having failed to deploy missiles that might have prevented Armenia’s loss of territory. The prime minister insisted that he had ordered the missiles’ use but that they had malfunctioned, shifting blame to the military.
Mr. Pashinyan fired a military official who contradicted him. On Thursday, the general staff of the military called for him to resign. Mr. Pashinyan warned of a coup, but later softened his language.
Steps toward stability: By early Thursday evening, the generals had issued a new statement, saying that the previous one had not been made in alignment with any opposition party.
Facebook bans Myanmar’s military
Facebook said it had banned Myanmar’s military from its platforms, leaving little question that the company was siding with the country’s pro-democracy movement against the generals who seized power on Feb. 1, ousting the civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since that coup, the military has repeatedly shut off the internet and cut access to major social media sites, including Facebook. But the generals still used Facebook to distribute propaganda, and military-owned businesses advertised on the platform as well. Neither will now be allowed.
Mark Zuckerberg: Though Facebook’s chief executive has long championed…
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