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Germany Recommends Limiting AstraZeneca Vaccine To Under-65s



  • Germany’s vaccine committee said AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine should only be given to people under 65, citing “currently insufficient data” about its efficacy in that age group.
  • The vaccine still hasn’t been approved for use in the European Union, although the neighboring U.K. has administered doses for weeks now.
  • AstraZeneca has recently faced criticism for production issues in the E.U., though companies like Pfizer are facing production delays as well.  
  • The E.U. as a whole has been slow with its vaccine rollout, with most member states having vaccinated around 2% of their population. The U.S., for comparison, has vaccinated roughly 7%.

AstraZeneca Faces E.U. Criticism

Germany’s vaccine committee announced Thursday that AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine should only be given to people under 65.

The committee cited, “currently insufficient data available to assess the vaccine efficacy from 65 years of age.,” and said the company’s vaccine “should only be offered to people aged 18-64 years at each stage.” 

The vaccine still hasn’t been approved for use in the European Union, although the neighboring U.K. has used it in its vaccination efforts for weeks now.

This announcement arrives in the midst of a dispute between the E.U. and AstraZeneca. Production issues at its E.U. plants mean AstraZeneca has been slow in fulfilling vaccine doses for the E.U., who hoped to have 80 million doses on hand when the vaccine was approved.

Current estimates say it’ll have 60% less than that prepared for vaccinations efforts in March.

AstraZeneca defended itself by pointing to their contract, which only states that it needed to make “the best effort” to get the doses produced, not that it actually needed to make the exact amount ordered. The E.U. argues that it prepaid for about 300 million euros of the vaccine and wants AstraZeneca to divert its U.K. production facilities to sending their doses to the E.U.

However, those facilities are part of an agreement with the British government to make vaccines for the U.K. Currently, AstraZeneca has two production facilities in the U.K. and two in Europe. It reports that the delays in European productions are on-par with the initial logistical issues the U.K. facilities faced.

The Associated Press reports that the European Union is now considering legal action to enforce their demands, although it’s unclear how that would play out. Both parties are due to meet Friday to try and work on a solution.

Slow Vaccination Efforts

AstraZeneca isn’t the only company facing issues with vaccination production. Pfizer-BioNtech also announced that it would be cutting the number of doses it would deliver to the E.U. due to issues at their production facilities.

The E.U. as a whole, as been slow with its vaccine rollout, which has led to widespread criticism by member states and citizens. The bloc is quick to blame manufacturers, who in turn claim that even with vaccines, the E.U. has been slow to get them across the Union.

Currently, according to the CDC and European Union statistics, most member states have vaccinated around 2% of their population. The U.S., for comparison, has done around 7%. While the most successful country, Israel, currently has vaccinated nearly half its population.

Source: CDC Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations
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95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home



The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.

A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.

Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.

At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.

They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.

The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.

She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.

Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.

After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.

NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.

Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters



London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”

The Public Order Act

A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.

The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”

It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.

“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”

An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests

During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated. 

“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed. 

“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”

Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”

“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote. 

When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should  do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police. 

For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.

“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)

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Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages



The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.

As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.

On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.

An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.

Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.

“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.

Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.

More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.

Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.

Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.

Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.

Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)

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