China Gearing Up for COVID Vaccine Program

China is gearing up to roll out a huge coronavirus vaccine initiative.The Associated Press reports provincial governments across the country are placing orders for experimental, domestically made coronavirus vaccines, though health officials have yet to say how well they work or how they may reach the country’s 1.4 billion people.The AP says more than a million Chinese health care workers have already received experimental vaccines under emergency use permission, but there have been no indications about possible side effects.In the United States, millions of people in Southern California and San Joaquin Valley will be under new restrictive stay-at-home orders, starting Sunday night.Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that the orders would go into effect when the intensive care capacity of a region’s hospitals fell below 15%.On Friday, several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area voluntarily decided to observe the new restrictions before their areas hit the new hospital threshold. The Bay Area lockdown also begins Sunday.Starting Sunday night, the California order will close all outdoor dining, public outdoor playgrounds, outdoor museums, zoos and aquariums, drive-in theaters, and open-air tour buses and boats. Pet grooming and electronics or shoe repair, considered low-contact retail, will be allowed to operate on a curbside-drop-off basis. All other retail, including grocery stores, will be allowed to operate at 20% capacity.A surge in COVID-19 cases has prompted South Korean officials to impose new restrictive measures in the capital city of Seoul and surrounding locations.Beginning Tuesday, gyms and karaoke bars will be closed, no gatherings larger than 49 people will be permitted and religious services can only be held online or broadcast.On Saturday, South Korea had 631 new infections, its largest daily tally in months. Public health officials say if the trend continues, hospitals could run out of beds.Seoul’s new lockdown measure will last for three weeks which means they will be in effect during Christmas.Russia launched its coronavirus vaccine initiative Saturday to contain the disease that is spreading at a record pace.The most vulnerable will receive the first doses of the vaccine named Sputnik V, including medical workers and teachers. The vaccine was approved in August, despite criticism from Western experts about the country’s dearth of clinical trial information.Russia rolls out the vaccine as Pfizer and BioNTech are set to introduce a vaccine next week following its approval recently by Britain. The drugmakers could receive U.S. approval later this month.On Friday, Bahrain became the second country to approve emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, after Britain.The challenge in distributing the vaccine will be keeping it cold enough. It must be stored at temperatures around minus 70 degrees Celsius. Bahrain routinely registers summer temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius.Bahrain has already inoculated 6,000 people with a Chinese vaccine that uses a dead version of the virus. The Mideast nation has had nearly 88,000 cases of the coronavirus and almost 350 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.There are more than 66.6 million global cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins, and 1.5 million deaths.The U.S. with 14.5 million infections has more COVID cases than any other nation. India follows the U.S. with 9.6 million infections and Brazil comes in third with 6.5 million.

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