WASHINGTON — America’s top infectious disease expert says about 99.2% of recent COVID-19 deaths in the United States involved unvaccinated people. And Dr. Anthony Fauci says “it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable.”
He tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” it’s frustrating “where you have a formidable enemy” in the coronavirus and “yet we do have a countermeasure that’s highly, highly effective. And that’s the reason why it’s all the more sad and all the more tragic why it isn’t being completely implemented in this country.”
Fauci cites the reasons for opposition to the vaccine by some Americans, whether it’s “ideological” or whether some “are just fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science.”
He says the country does “have the tools to counter” the pandemic and he’s asking people to “put aside all of those differences and realize that the common enemy is the virus.”
Fauci notes the United States is “very fortunate” that it has “enough vaccines to vaccinate essentially everybody in the country. And there are people throughout the world who would do anything to get vaccines.”
The United States has registered over 605,000 deaths in the pandemic, the highest national toll in the world.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
— The pressure is on to get people rental assistance before virus eviction ban lifts in US
— Europe in vaccination race against COVID-19′s delta variant
— England hopes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon lift mask requirements
— Indonesia caught between surge and slow vaccine rollout
— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation on Saturday reported five additional COVID-19 cases and two more deaths.
A statement released by tribal officials said the additional deaths increased the tribe’s pandemic death toll to 1,356.
The statement did not provide an updated count of total cases among residents of the sprawling reservation that includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Tribal officials did not immediately respond to a query but a statement released Friday by the tribe had said that the number of positive cases stood at 31,012.
OAKLAND, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay Area zoo is inoculating its big cats, bears and ferrets against the coronavirus. The vaccinations are part of a national effort to protect animal species using an experimental vaccine developed and donated by a New Jersey company.
Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the zoo, said none of the animals have gotten the virus, but they wanted to be proactive. Tigers, black and grizzly bears, mountain lions and ferrets were the first to receive the first of two doses. Next are primates and pigs.
The San Diego Zoo started inoculating primates with the Zoetis vaccine in January after a COVID-19 breakout among a troop of gorillas.
According to a press release, Zoetis is donating more than 11,000 doses for animals living in nearly 70 zoos, as well as more than a dozen conservatories, sanctuaries, academic institutions and government organizations located in 27 states.
MOSCOW — Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a record on Saturday for the fifth straight day, with the authorities reporting 697 fatalities as the country faces a rapid surge of infections. The previous record on Friday was 679.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force on Saturday reported 24,439 new coronavirus cases — the highest daily tally since January and 1,200 more than the day before. Moscow, its outlying region and St. Petersburg accounted for nearly half of Saturday’s new cases.
The Kremlin insisted on Friday that the authorities are not discussing another lockdown. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that the situation with the coronavirus remains “tense” in a number of regions, but said that “no one wants any lockdowns.”
Russia had only one nationwide lockdown last spring that lasted six weeks, and the government has since resisted shutting down businesses.
Russia’s coronavirus task force has reported nearly 5.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the pandemic and 137,262 deaths.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia will ease a coronavirus lockdown in five states next week in a bid to allow a quicker reopening of its economy.
The country has been under a national lockdown since June 1, the second in over a year that has severely bruised its economy.
The government initially said the lockdown will only be eased if daily infections fall below 4,000 and at least 10 percent of Malaysia’s population has been vaccinated. But Finance Minister Zafrul Aziz said Saturday states can now slowly reopen if they fulfil certain criteria.
He said states will be assessed based on the average number of infections per 100,000 people over seven days, as well as their intensive care capacity and vaccination rate.
Defense Minister Ismail Sabri said restrictions will be eased Monday in five states that have met the target, with more businesses such as barbers, computer outlets and bookshops allowed to reopen.
The decision to forgo a blanket ban and give states more flexibility comes as the lockdown was tightened Saturday for two weeks in the richest state of Selangor and some parts of Kuala Lumpur where infections remain high. Malaysia recorded 6,658 new infections Saturday to bring its tally to 772,607 cases. A further 107 deaths were reported to raise the toll to 5,434.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka say state-run schools will reopen this month after being closed for nearly three months due to a surge of COVID-19.
As a first step, arrangements are being made to reopen schools which have fewer than 100 students, the education ministry said Saturday.
The ministry has identified nearly 3,000 such schools and they will reopen first, while other schools will follow in stages.
While the schools were closed, online classes were conducted, but criticism is rising over the lack of internet and computer facilities for some children who live in remote parts of the Indian Ocean island.
Sri Lanka came out of a monthlong lockdown a week ago. However, public gatherings are still banned and universities, libraries, places of worship, cinemas, pubs, bars, hotels and gyms remain closed.
Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase in cases and deaths since April because of the celebrations and shopping during the traditional new year festival. Sri Lanka has recorded 260,972 confirmed cases, with 3,120 deaths.
NEW DELHI — Indian company Bharat Biotech says its late-stage testing of a COVID-19 vaccine has shown an overall efficacy of 77.8% and effectiveness against all variants.
The company in a statement says it is now in discussions with the World Health Organization to obtain emergency use listing for its vaccine, marketed as COVAXIN.
The results set at rest questions raised by health experts over Bharat Biotech’s vaccine when it was given emergency use authorization by the Indian government in January. They felt that the company didn’t have enough clinical trials, making it almost impossible for the firm to have analyzed and submitted data showing that its shots are effective.
The company says the vaccine has already received emergency use authorizations in 16 countries including India, the Philippines, Iran and Mexico. Millions of Indian also have been inoculated.
It says the late-stage trial showed the vaccine was 93.4% effective against severe symptomatic COVID-19 and showed effectiveness of 77.8% against symptomatic COVID-19. The data also demonstrated 65.2% protection against the delta variant, first identified in India.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden praised the ability of sports and athletes to bring a nation together in a time of crisis as he hosted the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers at the White House on Friday.
The Dodgers, who captured the title by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays last October, were the first team to be honored at the White House since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the first since Biden took office.
“I think what we discovered is that we need sports more than we ever realized,” said Biden, who praised baseball in “one of the most challenging years” in the nation’s history.
The president saluted the team for using its stadium as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus is offering a holiday stipend from mid-July to mid-August to anyone who’s been vaccinated and will restrict access to soccer stadiums to those who have received their shots or have obtained a negative test 72 hours prior to a match to encourage young people to get innoculated.
The Cypriot government announced late Friday a string of incentives designed to spur a sizeable portion of the population that haven’t stepped up to be vaccinated. Officials say some 70% of those under 40 haven’t received their shots.
Other incentives include counting the day that government and private sector workers opt to get vaccinated as a bonus day off and offering an honorary five-day leave to army conscripts who choose to get the jab.
The government also is requiring bar and restaurant patrons or anyone attending large gatherings such as weddings to display either a Safepass indicating that they’re fully vaccinated, or to present a negative test taken within 72 hours.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says he’s concerned lives will be unnecessarily lost to COVID-19 as unvaccinated people contract and transmit the coronavirus over the Fourth of July holiday.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Biden emphasized that for most Americans who are vaccinated, the holiday weekend will be worth celebrating.
Says Biden: “This year is different than the Fourth of July of last year and it’s going to be better next year.”
But the president says he’s worried about those who haven’t yet gotten a shot.
“I am concerned that people who have not gotten vaccinated have the capacity to catch the variant and spread the variant to other people who have not been vaccinated. But I am concerned. Lives will be lost.”