Singapore received its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine made by China's Sinovac Biotech on Tuesday, its health ministry said, although the shot is still awaiting approval for use in the city-state. Sinovac has started submitting initial data but the Health Sciences Authority is currently awaiting all the necessary information to carry out a thorough assessment, the ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday. Singapore is the only wealthy country considering the use of Sinovac's vaccine, which has been found to have an efficacy rate ranging from about 50% to 90% in studies.
Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah said on Wednesday parliament can convene during a state of emergency, a move that could open the door for the opposition to launch a fresh confidence vote to challenge Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Last month, the king declared a nationwide state of emergency that could last till Aug. 1, as Malaysia struggled to control a jump in coronavirus cases after managing to contain infections for most of last year. But the opposition accused Muhyiddin of using the emergency to retain control during a power struggle, especially after it appeared he may have lost his majority when two government lawmakers said they no longer backed him.
- Associated Press
American League MVP José Abreu tested positive for COVID-19 and will spend a few days away from the Chicago White Sox, while Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller told a St. Louis newspaper he tested positive 10 days before reporting to camp. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday in a statement that Abreu is “completely asymptomatic.” Hahn said testing also showed the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, and the Cuban slugger believes he had a mild case of the virus in January.
- Associated Press
Jimmy Butler went to the foul line in the final moments of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, talking and smiling the entire time. There's a lot for Butler and the Miami Heat to be happy about right now. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, Duncan Robinson added 17 points and Goran Dragic scored 15 in his return from an ankle injury.
- The Independent
‘She will be running against quality opposition,’ says district’s Democratic party chair
- The Week
Frasier Crane is headed back on the air. A revival of the hit sitcom Frasier has been officially announced at Paramount+, with star Kelsey Grammer set to return. The news was unveiled during a ViacomCBS presentation on Wednesday focused on Paramount+, the rebranded version of CBS All Access that's launching in March. "Having spent over 20 years of my creative life on the Paramount lot, both producing shows and performing in several, I'd like to congratulate Paramount+ on its entry into the streaming world," Grammer said. "I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr. Frasier Crane." Frasier, a spin-off of Cheers, originally ran for 11 seasons from 1993 through 2004, and a potential return has been discussed for years. Chris Harris and Joe Cristalli will write and produce the revival, which Paramount+ promised "will have everything you love about the original: coziness, great writing, and of course, a cast led by" Grammer. Stars David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, and Peri Gilpin aren't currently attached to the revival, according to Variety. This was just one of a number of Paramount+ reboots and revivals discussed on Wednesday, with others including Rugrats and Criminal Minds, as ViacomCBS reaches into its catalog in hopes of gaining an upper hand in the continuing streaming wars. More stories from theweek.comThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpBiden nominates postal board slate that could oust Louis DeJoy after DeJoy vows to stay putIt's been 1 year since Trump infamously tweeted the 'coronavirus is very much under control' in the U.S.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's nominee to run the CIA told lawmakers Wednesday that he would keep politics out of the job and deliver “unvarnished” intelligence to politicians and policymakers even if they don't want to hear it. William Burns told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee at his confirmation hearing that “politics must stop where intelligence work begins.” The comments from Burns appeared aimed at drawing a contrast with the prior administration, when President Donald Trump faced repeated accusations of politicizing intelligence while also publicly disputing the assessments of his own intelligence agencies, most notably about Russian election interference.
- Associated Press
Republicans rallied solidly against Democrats' proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill as lawmakers awaited a decision by the Senate's parliamentarian that could bolster or potentially kill a pivotal provision hiking the federal minimum wage. GOP leaders were honing attacks on the package as a job killer that does too little to reopen schools or businesses shuttered for the coronavirus pandemic and that was not only wasteful but also even unscrupulous.
A report describes how prisoners of war are used as slave labour to generate money for the regime.
U.S. President Joseph Biden's new administration said on Wednesday it would continue its international re-engagement by seeking election to the U.N. Human Rights Council where it will press to eliminate a "disproportionate focus" on ally Israel. Under former President Donald Trump's more isolationist approach, Washington quit the council in 2018 but the Biden government has already returned as an observer. "I'm pleased to announce the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24 term," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the council by video.
- Reuters Videos
Lloyds Banking Group has a plan to restore profitability. It's going to take advantage of the trend for working at home, and slash office space. The lender plans to reduce its total footprint by a fifth within three years. The move comes after a big plunge in earnings. On Wednesday (February 24) the bank reported full-year pretax profits of 1.7 billion dollars. That was less than a third of the previous year's level, though it still beat analyst forecasts. The bank blamed mounting bad loans, which forced it to set aside billions of pounds to cover possible defaults. To turn things around the firm is investing in its insurance and wealth management operations, as well as aiming to cut costs. Wednesday also saw bleak numbers from rival Metro Bank, which saw losses multiply. It too warned that loan defaults would mount in the months ahead, as government support for businesses winds down. As for office space, commercial property firms will be watching developments with alarm. Earlier in the week bigger rival HSBC said it would cut its offices by 40%.
- Associated Press
Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis intensified Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coup makers to step down and return Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, and held three-way talks with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and Myanmar’s new foreign minister, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, who also traveled to Thailand.
Wally Adeyemo, President Joe Biden's nominee for the No. 2 job at the U.S. Treasury, said it was critical to end the COVID-19 pandemic everywhere around the globe and doing so would require providing resources to some of the poorest countries. Adeyemo made the comment at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee when asked about a possible new allocation of the International Monetary Fund's own currency, or Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), that would allow rich countries to provide additional resources to poorer countries.
- Associated Press
A Senate hearing examining what went wrong with the law enforcement response to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has ended. House Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said afterward that “it’s clear action needs to be taken” after security officials who were in charge that day described confusion during the attack and intelligence failures that failed to predict the violence. Three of the four security officials, including the Capitol police chief, resigned immediately after the attack.
- USA TODAY
'What happened ... must never happen again': Rep. Liz Cheney, a top House Republican, again hits Trump over Capitol riots
Despite threats to her re-election, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney did not back down from criticism of Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection.
- The Daily Beast
Mario Tama/GettyIf you’ve tried to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you know how frustrating the process can be. People are spending hours obsessively refreshing websites, hoping an appointment will open up somewhere. They scan Facebook groups for tips and insider information. One writer compared it to Soviet-style queues for cabbage.The competition for slots will only worsen when the COVID-19 vaccination priority list opens to the broader public.It doesn’t have to be this way. Much of this misery comes from poorly designed vaccine sign-up websites, but the problem is more fundamental.As an expert in health care operations and vaccine supply chains, I have closely followed the difficulties in connecting COVID-19 vaccine doses with people. I believe the best solution to vaccine appointment scheduling lies in building a trustworthy one-stop preregistration system. The U.S. has now surpassed half a million deaths from COVID-19, and new fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus are adding to the urgency. As states scramble to speed up vaccinations and try to prevent their limited doses going to waste, a handful of them are testing this approach.The traditional vaccine sign-up model does not work when the demand for vaccines far exceeds supply.Under that model, the only way to get vaccinated is to reserve an appointment slot. Naturally, the fear of being left out drives people to attempt to sign up as soon as appointment slots become available. This leads to a rush of people endlessly refreshing the same websites for the few appointments available.Even if all states had one-stop appointment websites that did not crash under high volume, the limited vaccine supply would mean most appointment slots would quickly be taken. That could make it even harder for people who aren’t tech-savvy to get the vaccine.To fix the broken vaccine scheduling system, we need to break this cycle. 1299353966 Teacher Lily Gottlieb waits in a socially distanced standby line for people hoping to receive leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses in Encino, California. Mario Tama/Getty Most people have fairly realistic expectations about when they will be vaccinated. Their anxiety comes from the fear of being left out. To address this anxiety, the system must be designed to reassure people that they will receive vaccines within a reasonable time frame.In Israel, which leads the world in COVID-19 vaccination, citizens do not need to actively sign up for vaccine appointments. Rather, they are notified when they become eligible via text messages and can then make an appointment.States can echo this “push” system by creating a one-stop preregistration portal where everyone registers once and is notified to schedule appointments when their turn arrives. The preregistration step helps avoid waves of people trying to get appointments at the same time, which can crash computer systems, as Massachusetts experienced on Feb. 18.A good system will make it easy for people to check their position in the vaccine queue at any time, provide an estimated time to vaccination based on frequently updated supply information and then send notifications when their date is getting close. Underlying the system, vaccine doses can be allocated among eligible users on the registry using a lottery system.A well-designed preregistration system can also help avoid vaccine doses going to waste because of no-shows. With an active waitlist, vaccine planners can match supply with demand in an agile manner and offer appointments to people a few days in advance rather than scheduling appointments weeks out when the supply isn’t certain. Research in appointment scheduling has shown that no-shows are more likely under long lead times. People line up in the rain outside the Yankee Stadium for vaccinations reserved for residents of The Bronx. Timothy A. Clary/Getty West Virginia uses a statewide preregistration system and has so far been more successful at vaccinating its population than almost every other state. It controls the process from preregistration to appointment. To get the vaccine, almost all residents, with a few exceptions, are required to use the state system, with options to register either online or by phone.Minnesota just launched a similar system. “We still have a frustratingly limited vaccine supply from the federal government, but every Minnesotan should know their chance to get a vaccine will come. Today, we are connecting them directly to that process,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in announcing the preregistration system on Feb. 18.More states should follow their lead as more of the general population becomes eligible for the vaccine in the coming months.In Massachusetts, where a vaccine sign-up website crashed shortly after launching, nearly every member of the state’s congressional delegation has urged Gov. Charlie Baker to launch a preregistration system. A few other states already have limited preregistration systems that could be expanded.Preregistration can still create confusion if the process isn’t coordinated and users don’t know what to expect.In Virginia, for example, counties created their own preregistration systems, but when the pharmacy chain CVS announced it was taking appointments, users didn’t know what to do. Most Virginia counties are now shifting to a statewide preregistration system. In Santa Cruz County, California, residents have struggled with a preregistration portal that doesn’t provide confirmation or an estimated time to vaccination.“Efficiency-equity trade-off” has become a buzzword in discussing COVID-19 vaccination. With limited vaccine supply, the traditional sign-up model has proven to be both inefficient and inequitable. Moving away from that model and establishing one-stop preregistration systems is one key to resolving the painful vaccine scheduling process.Tinglong Dai is an associate professor of operations management & business analytics, at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University School of NursingRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The vaccine-sharing scheme aims to help poorer countries like Ghana get Covid-19 jabs.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
More than 300 COVID-19 vaccines in Tarrant County went to waste because of the winter storm that left millions in the state without electricity.
France's government on Wednesday ordered a weekend lockdown in the Dunkirk area to arrest an "alarming" rise in COVID-19 cases, signalling extra curbs might also be needed elsewhere as daily cases nationwide hit their highest since November. Unlike some of its neighbours, France has resisted a new national lockdown to control more contagious coronavirus variants, hoping a curfew in place since Dec. 15 can contain the pandemic. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the national situation was deteriorating, and "a source of worry in about 10 regional departments".