MONROE, N.C. — A Walgreens pharmacy in a North Carolina town mistakenly gave a small number of people injections of saline instead of COVID-19 vaccines last month.
Company spokesperson Erin Loverher says 22 people were affected by the mix-up March 20 at the pharmacy in Monroe and were scheduled to receive their second shot over the past weekend.
Loverher says pharmacists sometimes use saline solutions during training and there is no reason to believe anyone injected was harmed.
Walgreens is investigating what went wrong, reviewing its procedures and working to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— A jab on the job: Companies, unions offer COVID-19 vaccines
— Bitter experience helps French ICUs crest latest virus wave
— Billions spent on coronavirus fight, but what happens next?
— India’s capital to lock down amid explosive virus surge
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Henry McMaster is urging South Carolina lawmakers to approve a bill barring lawsuits against businesses and other groups by people who contract COVID-19 as long as federal and state health guidelines were followed.
He says in a letter sent Monday to House members that business “should not be placed at future risk.”
The House Judiciary Committee is set to take up the measure Tuesday. It has already passed the state’s Senate. Dozens of other states have passed similar laws.
The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce calls the measure crucial to efforts “to rebuild our businesses and adapt to evolving public health guidance.”
Opponents say existing laws are sufficient for addressing the issue. They point out that earlier this year there was just one lawsuit pending in state court where someone blamed a business for their illness.
MADRID — The official in charge of Spain’s pandemic response says a mix of prevention measures and the rollout of vaccines has for now kept a recent surge in cases from spiraling out of control.
Fernando Simón, who heads the Health Ministry’s emergency coordination center, says people’s movements during the Easter holiday did not lead to a significant surge in cases two weeks later. Spain previously saw a sharp spike following social gatherings over Christmas.
Spain on Monday recorded 21,000 new cases and 121 confirmed deaths since the health ministry’s last update of data on Friday.
One out of five of residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and over 7% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
Spanish health authorities are conducting a study of the effects of mixing different vaccines, involving 600 people of all ages who received an AstraZeneca shot and will be given a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Five major hospitals across Spain are involved, and results are expected in four weeks.
BALTIMORE — A key contract manufacturer for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine has stopped making bulk vaccine substance and is retaining what’s already been made at its Baltimore Bayview factory while U.S. regulators continue inspecting it due to quality problems.
The news was disclosed Monday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. It raises questions about whether problems at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. factory will prevent Johnson & Johnson from meeting its U.S. supply commitments.
Johnson & Johnson says it remains committed to providing 100 million doses of the single-shot vaccine pledged by the end of June. It says “it is premature to speculate on any potential impact this could have on the timing of our vaccine deliveries.”
Emergent says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began inspecting the factory April 12 and four days later asked Emergent not to resume manufacturing and to quarantine all vaccine material already produced there. Emergent said it is doing so until the inspection is complete and the company addresses any problems found.
The FDA declined to comment on how long its inspection will take.
Johnson & Johnson disclosed on March 31 that it had to throw out a batch of bulk vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant because it didn’t meet quality standards.
ANKARA, Turkey — Deaths from COVID-19 in Turkey have reached a new daily high.
The 341 deaths take the overall confirmed toll for the country to 34,267.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed a partial lockdown April 13, including an extended evening curfew on weekdays, a return to online education and a ban on unnecessary intercity travel. He has said the government will consider stricter measures if infection and death rates do not fall.
The Health Ministry has attributed the rising numbers on the faster-spreading coronavirus variants.
Turkey began making COVID-19 vaccines available for all people 55 and older as of Monday.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged everyone eligible to make appointments to get their shots. Previously people 60 and older were eligible, along with people with underlying health conditions.
So far, 20 million people in the country of 84 million have received at least one of dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A major coronavirus test event, a music festival with a planned crowd of 10,000, has been scrapped after a Dutch city denied organizers a permit.
Breda Mayor Paul Depla says in a statement that Monday’s decision came after police picked up signals that opponents and supporters of lockdown measures could be drawn to the event “with all the risks that that entails.”
Tens of thousands of people had signed an online petition opposing the 538 Oranjedag festival, which was scheduled for Saturday.
The petition was started by a doctor at a Breda hospital that was swamped with COVID-19 patients early in the pandemic and is located about 400 yards (meters) from the planned festival’s site. It called the event “a slap in the face” for hospital staff.
The festival was intended as one of a series of government-backed test events to evaluate how society can safely reopen.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the Netherlands has risen slightly over the past two weeks, but the government is considering allowing cafes to reopen outdoor terraces under strict conditions.
GENEVA — Climate activist Greta Thunberg says governments, vaccine developers and the international community must “step up their game” to fight global vaccine inequity.
The Swedish teen who inspired the Fridays for Future environmental movement cites estimates that one in four people in high-income countries have received coronavirus vaccines, compared with one in 500 in middle- and lower-income countries.
Thunberg says it is “completely unethical that high-income countries are now vaccinating young and healthy people if that happens at the expense of people in risk groups and on the front lines in low- and middle-income countries.”
Thunberg is directing 100,000 euros (about $ 120,000) from her charitable foundation to the WHO Foundation to help purchase COVID-19 vaccines where they are needed, whether in rich or poor countries.
The World Health Organization has announced 5.2 million new confirmed cases of the coronavirus over the last week, a new high.
Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says infections among people between 25 and 59 years old are “increasing at an alarming rate, possibly as a result of highly variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.”
NEW DELHI — The Indian capital has imposed a weeklong lockdown seeking to prevent the collapse of the city’s health system, which authorities say has been pushed to its limit amid an explosive surge in coronavirus cases.
To combat the crisis, India announced that it would soon expand its vaccination campaign to everyone 18 and older starting May 1.
India began vaccinating health workers in mid-January and later extended the drive to people above 45 in two phases. The country has so far administered 120 million doses.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 88, was hospitalized in New Delhi on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19.
India reported 273,810 new infections Monday, the most it has seen in a single day since the pandemic began. It now has more than 15 million confirmed cases, second only to the United States.
WASHINGTON — The White House says “it has never been easier” to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot as all people 16 and older are eligible for vaccines nationwide as of Monday.
President Joe Biden is encouraging people to book appointments immediately and to encourage family and friends to do the same.
Says Biden: “You need to be protected, and you need in turn to protect your neighbors and your family.”
On Sunday the country reached the milestone of having 50% of adults at least partially vaccinated.
JERUSALEM — Israel has signed an agreement with Pfizer to secure millions more doses of its coronavirus vaccine to meet the country’s needs through 2022.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office says in a statement that the agreement includes an option for future delivery of vaccines capable of dealing with new variants, and that similar negotiations with Moderna are underway. The announcement does not say how many new vaccines Israel would acquire or how much it was paying for them.
Israel has been a world leader in vaccinations per capita since launching its inoculation campaign in December. It secured a large supply of vaccines after striking a deal with Pfizer to trade medical data for doses.
More than 53% of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and new infections have plummeted since a peak in January.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is easing its tight lockdown amid a decline in new coronavirus infections.
Starting Monday all stores and services will be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity for people with a negative coronavirus test.
Religious services may resume, and hotels, zoos, botanical parks and libraries can reopen.
Groups of up to six people may exercise and play sports together outdoors.
New coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have been declining since early March.
The nation of 5.4 million has registered over 376,000 confirmed cases with 11,172 deaths.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger has said people still need to be cautious because “we haven’t won yet.”
LONDON — Britain’s prime minister has called off a trip to India amid surging coronavirus cases in the latter country.
The British and Indian governments said Monday that “in the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week” as planned.
The two governments said Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would speak later this month and meet in person later this year.
The long-planned trip would have been Johnson’s first foreign visit since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago. It was originally scheduled for January but postponed when cases of the virus soared in Britain.
London is also adding India to its “red list” of countries with high coronavirus rates from which international travel is severely restricted. The designation means that starting Friday, people who have been in India within the previous 10 days will not be allowed into the United Kingdom, with an exception for returning residents who will face mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival.
BERLIN — Pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer say they will provide 100 million more doses of their coronavirus vaccine to the European Union this year.
The two companies said Monday that the 27-nation group’s executive Commission exercised an option to purchase the additional doses, bringing the total number of shots to be delivered to the EU in 2021 to 600 million.
The announcement offers a much-needed boost to the EU’s sluggish and much-criticized vaccine rollout.
Sean Marett, the chief business officer of BioNTech, said deliveries of the company’s mRNA-based vaccine this year will cover two-thirds of the EU population.
The bloc has so far administered about 105 million shots to its population of some 450 million.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s minister for planning and development says authorities are struggling to maintain the much-needed supply of oxygen to hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
Asad Umar, who also oversees Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus, said on Twitter that hospitals were continuously receiving coronavirus patients amid a surge in new cases.
He said currently more than 4,500 COVID-19 patients need critical care at hospitals, but many people are still violating social distancing rules. Umar said citizens are “making a huge mistake by not following” social distancing rules.
His warning comes hours after Pakistan reported 73 fatalities in a single day from the coronavirus and 5,152 new cases.
The government has resisted calls from doctors to impose a nationwide lockdown.