US nears 200 million vaccine shots given in race against coronavirus; here’s the latest news

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The United States opened more distance between itself and much of the rest of the world on Thursday, nearing the 200 millionth vaccine administered in a months-long race to protect the population against COVID-19, even as other countries, rich and poor, struggle with stubbornly high infection rates and deaths.

Nearly half of American adults have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 30% of adults in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the picture is still relentlessly grim in parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia as variants of the virus fuel an increase in new cases and the worldwide death toll closes in on 3 million.

In other developments:

  • The U.S. government reported Thursday that some vaccinated people, as expected, have become sick from the coronavirus, though such cases are rare. The CDC said about 5,800 of the “breakthrough” infections have been confirmed. That’s out of about 75 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated, but the agency warned that reporting of such cases is uneven and incomplete.
  • Serious illness among vaccinated Americans is even more rare, with fewer than 400 who were hospitalized and 74 who died. As with the flu, people who get COVID-19 after being vaccinated are more likely to have a milder illness than unvaccinated people, the CDC has said.
  • A new wave of public health advocacy that is multilingual, culturally sensitive, entertaining and personal is rapidly replacing mundane public service announcements in the battle to stamp out the disinformation around COVID-19 vaccines in communities of color.
  • More than a third of the world’s deaths have occurred in three countries — the United States, Mexico and Brazil, where a total of more than 1.1 million have perished. The virus is claiming about 12,000 lives each day.
  • The recent decision to suspend the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to preliminary reports of rare blood clots left South Africa without any shots in its battle against an aggressive coronavirus variant. South Africa has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including at least 53,000 deaths, representing more than 30% of all the confirmed cases in Africa’s 54 countries.
  • Meanwhile, Germany’s health ministry announced that the country administered a national record of more than 738,000 vaccine shots Wednesday, though authorities also warned that hospitals were seeing a dramatic rise in coronavirus patients.
  • A photo symbolizing “love and compassion” of an 85-year-old Brazilian woman getting her first embrace in five months from a nurse through a transparent “hug curtain” has been named the World Press Photo of the Year.