The Latest: Surgeon General: Virus booster shots ‘possible’

A medical worker administers a shot of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Gostinny Dvor, a huge exhibition place in Moscow, Russia, Monday, July 12, 2021. Russia has been facing a sharp rise of contagions in recent weeks, with daily new infections increasing from around 9,000 in early June to over 25,000 on Friday. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top doctor says it’s “certainly possible” that Americans eventually will be advised to get a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN that no decision had been made yet after a meeting Monday with Pfizer to discuss its request for approval of a third shot of its coronavirus vaccine. He added as officials make their assessments, “what we’re really looking for is clear evidence that immunity is waning,” such as breakthrough infections in the vaccinated population. He says that may trigger a recommendation for booster shots.

Murthy also says it’s “certainly very possible” a third shot will be recommended for immunocompromised or vulnerable Americans, such as those on chemotherapy.

“We are looking closely at that population,” he says, adding when the data suggests a booster dose is needed, it will be recommended.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

— France rushes to get vaccinated after president’s warning

— Russian fund: India vaccine maker to produceSputnik V

— Death toll from fire on Iraqihospital coronavirus ward rises

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemicand https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged her country’s citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying the more people who get the shot “the more free we will be again.”

Vaccination rates in Germany have slowed in recent weeks. About 58.7% of the population has received at least one shot and 43% are fully vaccinated.

Germany’s disease control agency said last week that the country should aim to vaccinate 85% of people ages 12-59 and 90% of people over 60 to prevent the delta variant causing a strong resurgence of coronavirus cases this autumn and winter.

Merkel, who has received both shots, called on Germans to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from serious illness, and linked higher immunization rates with the further easing of pandemic restrictions.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s sovereign fund has announced a deal with a top Indian vaccine manufacturer to produce the Russia-designed Sputnik V vaccine.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said Tuesday its deal with the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, envisages annual production of over 300 million doses of the vaccine in India starting in September.

The RDIF that bankrolled Sputnik V and markets it abroad has previously negotiated Sputnik V production deals with manufacturers in several countries, including India, South Korea, Brazil, China, Turkey, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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PARIS — Nearly 1 million people in France made vaccine appointments in a single day, as the president cranked up pressure on everyone to get vaccinated to save summer vacation and the French economy.

An app that centralizes France’s vaccine and other medical appointments, Doctolib, announced Tuesday morning that 926,000 people had made appointments Monday, a daily record since the country rolled out coronavirus vaccines in December. People younger than 35 made up 65% of the new appointments.

President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that vaccination would be obligatory for all health care workers by Sept. 15, and held out the possibility of extending the requirement to other parts of the population.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia shut down a mass vaccination center Tuesday after more than 200 medical staff and volunteers tested positive for the coronavirus.

Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it was difficult to determine if the infections occurred at the center, while stressing that swift government action had stopped the cluster.

He urged people who were vaccinated at the center from Friday onward to isolate themselves for 10 days in case they develop symptoms.

The center was shut for deep sanitization and all its workers were being isolated. Khairy said the center will reopen Wednesday with a new team of medical workers.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Red Cross says a surge of coronavirus infections with the delta variant is overwhelming hospitals in Southeast Asia and outpacing vaccinations.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also warned that a widening global divide in vaccinations is slowing Southeast Asia’s efforts to battle the pandemic.

Thailand is reporting nearly 10,000 new infections daily, more than four times a month ago, while deaths have also reached record highs. Infections in Vietnam have surged past 2,000 a day, almost 10 times more than in early June.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s streak of more than 1,000 daily coronavirus cases has reached a week as health authorities scramble to slow a viral surge that has brought Seoul’s thriving nightlife to a standstill and professional baseball to a halt.

Authorities said Tuesday that more than 800 of the 1,150 new cases are in the greater capital area, where officials have shut down nightclubs and prohibited private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m.

There are signs the virus is spreading beyond the Seoul metropolitan area as the country enters its summer holidays. Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and South Chungcheong province are among the major cities and regions that reported dozens of new infections.

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SYDNEY — Australia has recorded a third COVID-19 death this year.

New South Wales state Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Tuesday declined to say whether the man, who was in his 70s, had been vaccinated. He died Monday in Sydney’s eastern suburbs where the current Sydney cluster began last month.

The New South Wales state government has said Sydney’s three-week-old lockdown is likely to be extended Friday.

A woman in her 90s from southwest Sydney died Saturday, a day after testing positive for the coronavirus. An 80-year-old man died April 12 after becoming infected in the Philippines.

Australia had not previously recorded a COVID-19 death since Oct. 19.

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