Angela Merkel’s spokesperson said that the German Chancellor was given two vaccines as a conscious effort not to make people afraid when they were advised to have a mixture of shots.

Merkel’s office confirmed Tuesday, that Merkel received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine for the 66-year old on April 16. She was then given the Moderna vaccine for the second shot.

Steffen Seibert, her spokesperson, stated that Merkel chose the first AstraZeneca shot when there were concerns over possible side effects.

He said, “And so, she can now possibly take away the worries of people…who were/are concerned about this so-called Cross-Vaccination.”


Italy is relying on huge EU pandemic recovery funds to revitalize its slow economy. How well the eurozone does may determine its future.

Tokyo is set to become the ‘no-fun Olympics due to the pandemic

Colombia reaches 100,000 COVID-19 confirmed deaths. President blames anti-government protests

US: Deaths among Medicare patients in Nursing Homes rose by 32% last Year

— WHOplans technology transfer center for coronavirus vaccines to South Africa

Follow more AP pandemic coverage at–pandemic and–vaccine



BOISE, Idaho — Idaho’s adults have received just over half of the coronavirus vaccines they were given in the past two months. This is about two months after Idaho reached 50%.

Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Idaho Public Health Administrator, stated Tuesday at a press conference that it was unlikely that the state will reach the national goal of 70% adults having at least one dose of vaccines by July 4.

She said that the state is still making slow progress in vaccinating children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Idaho has the eighth-lowest adult partial COVID-19 vaccine rate in the U.S.

ANKARA (Turkey) — As Turkey ramps up its vaccination campaign, the health minister of Turkey has announced that anyone aged 18 and over will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines starting Friday.

Fahrettin Koca, speaking after Wednesday’s meeting of the country’s scientific advisory council, stated that the government plans to give at least one dose of vaccines to approximately 70% of the 55,000,000 people who are eligible, by mid-July.

Nearly 30 million people, out of an estimated 84 million population, have had their first dose. 14.6 million have had both.

Koca stated that 40,800 people will be participating in the trial of Turkey’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was named TURCOVAC. Turkey’s Erciyes University developed the vaccine using “inactivated virus technology”.

The minister stated that the vaccine would be given to volunteers as an alternative to a placebo. This will allow researchers to compare the safety and efficacy of the inactivated vaccines. The trials would also include volunteers from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Hungary.


MOSCOW — On Wednesday, Buryatia in Siberia became the first Russian region to announce a lockdown due to an increase in coronavirus infection.

The lockdown will begin on Sunday and will last for two weeks. Only essential services like grocery shops, pharmacies and utility companies, as well as public transport and media organisations, will be allowed to operate during this time.

In Russia, the number of Coronavirus infections has risen in recent weeks. The daily count of new cases has risen from approximately 9,000 in June to more than 17,000 last Friday.

Buryatia has been the only Russian region to impose multiple lockdowns since the outbreak of the pandemic. In an attempt to combat a resurgence, the governor of the region closed all non-essential business for two weeks last November.

Russia was subject to a six-week long nationwide lockdown in spring 2013. Most coronavirus restrictions were lifted during the summer. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said Wednesday that authorities were not discussing plans to impose another nationwide lockdown.


LISBON (Portugal) — Portugal’s recent increase in COVID-19-related cases in the Lisbon region is accelerating. New infections are pushing Portugal’s daily case count to a 4-month high.

Portugal reported nearly 1,500 new cases Wednesday, with almost two-thirds of them being in the region around the capital, home to 2.8 million people.

The national cumulative 14-day Covid-19 case notification rate for 100,000 people has increased to 130.

Hospital pressure is still manageable with only 437 patients being admitted for the virus and 100 in intensive.

Portugal’s government has already prohibited weekend travel to and from Lisbon. Experts attribute the spread of the virus to the Delta variant.

After Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, it is widely expected that the government will announce new restrictions regarding Lisbon.


GENEVA — Authorities in Switzerland are easing COVID-19 regulations and relaxing key requirements for incoming travelers. In Switzerland, the death tolls and case numbers have fallen in recent weeks.

The Federal Council announced that work-from-home rules will be eliminated and outdoor masks will no longer be required. Restaurants won’t have to restrict the number of guests that can dine together.

According to the Swiss government, people who are from the European Schengen region — which allows visa-free travel between countries — won’t need to be quarantined upon entering Switzerland.

The rules restricting entry of foreigners will be applied to countries that have high levels of coronavirus variants.

The council, Switzerland’s executive branch, is also increasing the duration of vaccine effectiveness for mRNA vaccinations such as those from Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech to 12 months from six months.

According to Swiss health officials, Wednesday saw 154 new cases and 2 deaths in Switzerland’s country of 8.5 million. Over 700,000 COVID-19-related cases have been reported in Switzerland. There have also been 10,000 deaths.


PARIS — France has added Russia to its “red” list of countries that travel bans people from unless they have imperious motives. Russia is currently battling with virus surges, worrisome variants, and is unable to fly.

Gabriel Attal, spokesperson for the French government, stated Wednesday that Russia and Namibia are being added to the 21-country list.

The “red” list includes South Africa, Brazil, India and South Africa. It means that travelers who arrive in France without being vaccinated must show proof of their travel, pass a negative test, and stay isolated for one week. Non-vaccinated travelers must be placed on quarantine for 10 consecutive days. This will result in a fine of 1000 euros, or $1,194.

Attal called for increased vigilance regarding the contagious variant of delta, which was first identified in India.

He said that the delta variant could be 9 to 10% in France. He said that authorities are monitoring the situation in the Landes region in southwest France. 70% of confirmed cases are caused by the delta variant.

France’s epidemic situation has improved rapidly in recent weeks. There are now approximately 2,300 daily infections, down from 35,000 at the peak in March-April.


BRUSSELS — The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be available to vaccinate teenagers in Belgium who are between 12 and 15 years old with underlying conditions.

After a meeting with the country’s ministers of health, Wednesday saw the adoption of this decision.

Because of the higher risk of developing severe coronavirus, which can lead to hospitalizations, COVID-19 shots for children with pathologies like Down syndrome, leukemia or liver and kidney disease will be given to them.

There has not yet been a decision on whether or not to immunize others in this age group.


The Hague, Netherlands — Callers have overwhelmed a telephone line that was set up to enable people to book a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the Netherlands.

Hugo de Jonge, Health Minister, tweeted Wednesday that over 130,000 people tried to call the number a total of more that 2 million times in the first morning the government allowed anyone over 18 to schedule a J&J vaccine appointment.

Due to the small risk of a rare blood clotting disorder, the J&J single-dose shot was largely removed from the Dutch COVID-19 vaccine program.

The government does have about 200,000 J&J shots and will make them available to the public in the next two weeks.


COPENHAGEN (Danemark) — After last year’s severe downturn caused by the coronavirus, both the Swedish and Danish economies are quickly recovering.

The Finance Ministry of Sweden stated Wednesday that she anticipates that the gross domestic product will grow by 4.7% by 2021. However, the Central Bank of Denmark predicted that the GDP would increase by 3.3%.

As the spread of the virus declines and restrictions are eased, household consumption is projected to rise by 4.7% in Sweden — an upward revision 1.3 percentage points relative to the previous forecast.

Andersson stated that exports from Sweden are also contributing to the growth. They are expected to rise by 8.9%.

She expressed concern that there may be a shortage in certain input products or bottlenecks in transport chain, which could slow down global trade and therefore also Swedish exports.

The boss of Nationalbanken in Denmark stated that “the reopening” of the Danish economy was underway with activity returning to pre-pandemic levels.


BRATISLAVA (Slovenia) — Slovakia’s government has decided to sell or donate 160,000 doses Sputnik V despite low interest in getting vaccinated with the Russia-made coronavirus vaccination.

As the only country in the European Union to have started the vaccination, it began on June 8.

Hungary was the first EU country to use Sputnik V. However, it has never been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Only 14.214 people registered for the two-shot vaccination in the country of 5.4million. The government’s Wednesday decision comes after only 14.214 people applied. Slovakia has 200,000 doses Sputnik V.

Slovakia will donate some vaccines to the western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia, North Macedonia, and North Macedonia. Argentina expressed interest in purchasing Sputnik V from Slovakia.

The secret deal to buy 2 million Sputnik V shot cartridges from Slovakia by Igor Matovic, then-Prime Minister, triggered a political crisis that led to the collapse of the Slovak government.


ROME — Italy’s leading man is urging tourists from Japan, Canada, and the United States to visit Rome to provide a crucial boost to Italian restaurant and hotel businesses.

Premier Mario Draghi spoke to legislators on Wednesday and noted that Italy recently permitted people from these three countries to travel to Italy for tourism. This was previously prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourists must have been vaccinated and have documentation that they have recovered from the illness.

Draghi stated that they wanted to let them safely enter Italy in order to help restaurateurs and hoteliers bounce back after years of difficulties.

Italy’s 13% GDP is attributed to tourism. Many restaurants and hotels had to close for several months. Some hotels that cater to U.S. tourists have not reopened.


BOGOTA — Colombia has reached 100,000 deaths confirmed by COVID-19. This week, it became the tenth country to reach this unwelcome milestone.

The 50-million-strong South American nation has been experiencing an increase in daily cases since April. In fact, it had the third highest per capita COVID-19 death rate over the last seven days according to Oxford University data.

President Ivan Duque attributed many deaths to antigovernment protests that started at the end April. He said that more than 10,000 deaths could be avoided if Colombians hadn’t held large gatherings in the seven weeks preceding the event.

However, Colombian epidemiologists said that it was too early to determine the impact of the protests on the current spike in COVID-19-related deaths.

Diego Rosselli, an epidemiologist at Javeriana University, Bogota, stated that “the protests certainly played a part” in the spread of coronavirus contagion. “But, at the moment, putting any number on the deaths they caused is just speculation.”