After a slow start, China’s Covid-19 vaccination drive is in full swing as the authorities chase the ambitious target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.
China has administered more than 945 million vaccine doses, more than a third of the global total, according to the New York Times vaccine tracker. With about 17 million shots injected every day this month, China is on pace to surpass a billion shots in the coming days.
To get its vaccine drive going, China pulled out its playbook for pandemic success: a top-down approach that relies on a mix of high-tech tools and old-fashioned, grass-roots mobilization — with some inducements thrown in.
Compared with the United States, where local officials have sought to boost inoculations by offering lures such as million-dollar lottery prizes and free weed, the incentives in China have been humbler. In Shanghai, one man received a bottle of water. In Anhui Province, officials have been handing out free eggs. A woman in Beijing got the equivalent of about $7 in cash.
Uptake has surged. In mid-March, China had administered only about 65 million doses. In April, it was giving only 4.8 million doses per day. Many Chinese had been hesitant to get the shots, in part because of past scandals involving Chinese-made vaccines and also because the virus has been largely tamed in China. Only domestically produced vaccines are being offered in the country.
Demand has risen following a recent outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the southern city of Guangzhou. In Guangdong Province, which encompasses Guangzhou, only 36 percent of the population had been fully inoculated by early June.
Yuhui Li, a resident of the nearby city of Shenzhen, said she had initially been reluctant to get vaccinated because she was worried about potential side effects. She changed her mind after the outbreak in Guangzhou, she said, but has struggled to book an appointment. Demand was so high, she added, that officials in her neighborhood were no longer offering free eggs or rides to vaccination sites.
“I want to get vaccinated, but it’s really hard to make an appointment now,” said Ms. Li, 27, an assistant at a film production company.
On Wednesday, the Guangzhou authorities reported no new local cases for the first time since the outbreak began in May.
China has a long way to go before fully vaccinating 70 percent of the population, about 980 million people, which the authorities say they hope to achieve by the end of the year. To meet the target, China has cranked up production of the two main vaccines in use, those produced by the companies Sinovac and Sinopharm. Both vaccines appear to reduce the risk of severe Covid, although their efficacy rates in clinical trials — 78 percent for Sinopharm, and 50 percent to 78 percent for Sinovac, depending on which country the trial was done in — are lower than those of the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
Some cities are further along than others. In Beijing, the capital, more than 80 percent of residents 18 and older were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. Given the uneven rollout, and the fact that most people have not received two doses, Chinese health experts have warned against loosening the country’s border controls, which remain among the strictest in the world.
The European Union recommended on Friday that its member states lift the ban on nonessential travel for visitors from the United States, a move sure to be welcomed by Americans eager to travel to the continent after more than a year of tight restrictions.
The recommendation is nonbinding, and each member state can decide what regulations, including quarantines, to impose on visitors. Americans have been mainly barred from Europe as the United States grapples with one of the highest caseloads in the world.
The opening is also expected to provide relief for southern European countries that are highly dependent on tourism, including Italy and Portugal. Those countries pressed the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, to act so that the entire summer tourism season would not be hurt by the absence of Americans, who are considered relatively big spenders.
Despite the bloc’s recommendation, Europeans are still barred from entering the United States for nonessential travel even if they have been fully vaccinated, following a sweeping travel ban announced by President Donald J. Trump in March 2020 and extended in January by President Biden.
The formal decision on Friday was made by Europe’s economy ministers, who agreed to add the United States to a list of countries considered safe from an epidemiological point of view. That means that travelers from those countries should be free to enter the bloc, even if they are not fully vaccinated, on the basis of a negative PCR test for an active coronavirus infection.
But the European Union cannot compel member nations to open to American visitors. Each country is free to keep or impose more stringent restrictions, such as an obligation to quarantine upon arrival or to undergo a series of further tests.
Countries like Greece and Spain, more heavily dependent on tourism, already moved in recent weeks to reopen to tourists from outside the European Union, including from the United States. The European Commission criticized those early moves.
The Portuguese authorities ordered a weekend lockdown of the capital region of Lisbon starting on Friday in an attempt to blunt a recent surge of new infections, offering a powerful reminder that even as Europe seeks to reopen more fully, the virus still poses challenges.
The decision came after Portugal registered this week its highest number of new cases since March, jumping by more than 1,300 in the past 24 hours.
Public health officials said that the rise in cases was steepest around Lisbon and they estimated that roughly half of the new cases involved the Delta variant, first detected in India and on the rise in other countries, including Britain.
The weekend lockdown goes into effect at 3 p.m. on Friday and lasts until 6 a.m. on Monday. While in effect, residents in the Lisbon region will be prohibited from traveling outside their home area, an attempt to keep the spread of the virus confined.
The emergency measure is a pointed reversal of the optimism that officials expressed in May, when the country was recording one of the lowest infection rates in Europe and moving to kick-start the summer tourism season.
Portugal was one of the first European countries to reopen its borders to visitors from Britain and from across the European Union. And the British government named Portugal to a very small list of countries where its residents could travel without having to quarantine upon return.
It did not last long.
By June, the British government had reversed course and reimposed a quarantine for people returning from Portugal, creating travel chaos for British tourists who scrambled to get home before the quarantine came into force.
The British government has been warning about the danger that the Delta variant poses, particularly in populations that have not yet been fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the full reopening of the economy — originally set to take place on Monday — for several weeks to allow the country’s inoculation drive to reach more people.
In Portugal, just over 52 percent of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine and nearly 30 percent have full protection, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
JERUSALEM — The new Israeli government announced on Friday that it would give up to 1.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority in a trade that will see the authority donate a similar number back to Israel once its own delayed supply arrives later in the year.
The office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel said that the country would give the Palestinian Authority 1 to 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that would otherwise have expired and that the authority would return the favor in September or October.
Negotiations over the deal began in secret several months ago, before Mr. Bennett’s government replaced that of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was replaced by a narrow vote in Parliament last Sunday.
The announcement follows months of debate about whether Israel, where a successful vaccine campaign has created a largely post-pandemic reality, has a moral or legal responsibility to give its spare vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where infection rates are far higher.
In February and March, Israel gave vaccines to more than 100,000 Palestinians who work as day laborers in Israel but resisted vaccinating millions of other Palestinians living under some form of Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza.
Instead, the Palestinian Authority ordered several hundred thousand vaccine doses from the global sharing initiative, Covax, most of which have yet to arrive. Separately, the United Arab Emirates donated tens of thousands to Palestinians in Gaza.
Israeli officials have said that the Oslo Accords, the interim agreements between Israel and Palestinian leaders signed in the 1990s, give the Palestinian Authority responsibility for its own health care system.
But rights campaigners have noted that other parts of the Oslo Accords require Israel to work with the Palestinian leadership during an epidemic, while the Fourth Geneva Convention obliges an occupying power to coordinate with the local authorities to maintain public health within an occupied territory, including during epidemics.
Israel controls all imports to the West Bank, most of which is under full Israeli control, and shares control of imports to Gaza with Egypt.
When Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine was authorized for emergency use in the United States in late February, it was seen as a breakthrough for reaching vulnerable and isolated Americans, a crucial alternative to vaccines that require two shots weeks apart and fussier storage. It was soon popular on college campuses, in door-to-door campaigns and with harder-to-reach communities that often struggle with access to health care.
But with only 11.8 million doses administered in the United States so far — less than 4 percent of the total — the “one and done” vaccine has fallen flat.
States have warned that they may not find recipients for millions of doses that will soon expire, partly because the vaccine’s appeal dropped after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder and injections were paused for 10 days in April.
The vaccine took another hit last week, when regulators told Johnson & Johnson that it should throw out tens of millions of additional doses produced at a plant in Baltimore because they might be contaminated.
Although millions of Americans have yet to be inoculated, the vaccine’s role in the United States is fading fast. Experts lament a missed opportunity to address health disparities with a shot that should have been ideal for reaching vulnerable populations.
“It’s just not what I think anybody would have hoped it would be when it came out,” said Dave Baden, the chief financial officer of the Oregon Health Authority.
SRINAGAR, Kashmir — As the Indian government struggles to expand a Covid-19 vaccination program dogged by shortages and bureaucratic missteps, its health workers in Kashmir are facing another challenge: attacks by residents.
In recent weeks, health workers in the Indian-controlled part of the region have reportedly been attacked multiple times for taking videos of vaccinations, including inside people’s homes. Many Kashmiris said that they did not want to be filmed because appearing in videos could indicate support for the Indian government and its policies.
Kashmir, a largely Muslim region of about eight million people, is claimed by both India and Pakistan, and many people in the restive part controlled by India have become disillusioned and angry toward the Hindu-controlled government in Delhi.
The Indian authorities have kept Kashmir under strict lockdown for much of the past two years, starting in August 2019 when the government revoked its semiautonomous status, and more recently because of the coronavirus.
The attacks, fueled by deep distrust of India’s policies, have threatened the vaccination campaign.
“It is as if they are not coming to vaccinate people, but to do P.R. for India,” said Imad Ahmad Reshi, a college student in the northern Kashmir town of Baramulla. He noted that the Indian government had previously blocked internet access in the region and had filed terrorism charges against Kashmiris for critical social media posts.
“Then they upload these videos and pictures on the same social media,” he added. “Everyone wants to get vaccinated, but why film it?”
India’s clampdown has disrupted daily life, with tourism and agriculture, the mainstays of Kashmir’s economy, taking a huge hit. Across the Kashmir Valley, roads are blocked with coils of glistening concertina wire.
Residents said that rumors on social media claimed that the Indian government was using images of vaccinations for “propaganda purposes.” Misinformation that the vaccines cause impotence also began to spread.
In one video captured by a vaccination team, a Kashmiri woman is heard telling a health worker that her husband would not get the vaccine. “Why are you shooting the video?” she asked. “Don’t take the video.”
As India tries to emerge from a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, officials say that they have vaccinated about 1.9 million people in Kashmir. Dr. Mir Mushtaq, an official with the health department of Kashmir, acknowledged that some health workers had taken videos and said that they had been instructed not to do so from now on.
But he said that most residents supported the vaccination campaign.
“We have ordered that no one should take videos or upload them on social media,” he said. “These are isolated incidents, and we have advised our people they should be sensitive to rights and privacy of the people.”
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Officials in a county in Taiwan are facing a storm of criticism after banning foreign laborers from going outside as part of an effort to stamp out a cluster of coronavirus infections among workers at several technology manufacturing companies.
Under the measures announced last week by the authorities in the central county of Miaoli, thousands of migrant workers, mostly from Vietnam and the Philippines, are prevented from leaving their dormitories except to travel to and from their jobs at high-tech factories. Some workers expressed concern that the conditions in the cramped dormitories, where as many as six people share a room, could spread the virus further.
Other workers who were in close contact with infected colleagues have been sequestered at quarantine centers. In some of those facilities, activists say that workers were served spoiled food or had no running water.
Officials have not said how long the restrictions will be in place. At a news briefing last week, Hsu Yao-chang, the Miaoli County magistrate, dismissed migrant workers’ complaints.
“You tested positive, and even died because of the virus,” he said. “Why talk about human rights now?”
On Friday, Miaoli County reported 26 new infections, mostly among migrant workers, bringing the total confirmed cases related to the factories to more than 450, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. At the hardest-hit company, King Yuan Electronics, a testing and packaging company for semiconductor chips, more than 300 cases have been found.
Some workers said they understood the reasons for the restrictions, but argued that they singled out foreign workers. Taiwanese employees, most of whom work as managers and supervisors at the factories, have been permitted to come and go at will, many foreign workers said.
“It is discrimination,” John Ray Tallud, 29, a Filipino equipment engineer at King Yuan Electronics, said in a telephone interview from his dormitory. “Local Taiwanese can go outside any time.”
Throughout the pandemic, migrant workers have been among the most vulnerable groups around the world. Singapore barred hundreds of thousands of low-paid foreign workers from leaving their dormitories for months after major outbreaks last year. Farm laborers in the United States were deemed essential and continued to work in the fields shoulder-to-shoulder, even as many became infected.
Until recently, Taiwan was an exception — a Covid-free island for most of the pandemic, with strict border controls that made it difficult for companies to bring in more migrant laborers. As a result, labor activists say that the existing migrant work force — more than 700,000 workers, most from Southeast Asian countries — had gained bargaining power with their employers.
That changed with the recent outbreak. Migrant-labor advocates have criticized the Miaoli government for provoking further fear and stigmatization of foreign workers. Many said that the order exposed longstanding discrimination against the workers, who have become an essential, if largely invisible, pillar of Taiwan’s economy — particularly its crucial high-tech industries.
“This is a clear case of injustice,” said Chang Cheng, founder of 4-Way Voice, a multilingual publication for migrant workers in Taiwan. “When we talk about Taiwan’s most important industries, they would not be able to survive without these foreign workers.”
Officials in Russia, where vaccine hesitancy remains high, are ordering frontline workers to be vaccinated as the highly infectious Delta variant spreads.
Russia has reported a 50 percent increase in daily cases over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
In Moscow, Mayor Sergei S. Sobyanin announced on Wednesday one of the world’s most extensive compulsory vaccination policies, mandating that workers with public-facing roles get shots by Aug. 15. That includes taxi drivers, hairdressers, teachers and bank tellers and amounts to just over two million people in the city of 12 million.
The surrounding Moscow region, the Siberian region of Kemerovo and the Far East region of Sakhalin have also implemented the same mandate, according to The Associated Press.
“It’s most likely we are facing new, more aggressive variants which spread more quickly,” Mr. Sobyanin said during a video conference with government officials on Thursday. Daily cases in the capital have soared from 3,000 to 7,000 within a few days, he said, and were expected to hit more than 9,000 on Friday.
The head of the consumer health watchdog attributed the surge to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India. U.S. health officials have classified Delta as a “variant of concern,” sounding the alarm because it spreads rapidly and may cause more serious illness in unvaccinated people.
Russia approved its vaccine, the Sputnik V, last August — before late-stage trials had begun — and started inoculations that month. A peer-reviewed article in The Lancet in April showed that the vaccine had an impressive 91.6 percent efficacy rate against the virus and is highly protective against severe cases of Covid-19.
But doubt persists among many Russians. President Vladimir V. Putin said that 18 million people had been inoculated in the country — less than 13 percent of the population, even though Russia’s Sputnik V shots have been widely available for months.
The country’s official death toll is more than 125,000, according to Our World in Data, but experts have said that such figures probably vastly underestimate the true tally.
Russian businesses have until mid-July to have at least 60 percent of staff vaccinated with their first doses, or face fines or temporary closure.
Anastasia Rakova, deputy mayor of Moscow, said that hospital admissions for the coronavirus increased more than 70 percent over the past week, according to Reuters.
An earlier version of this article misstated Russia’s daily coronavirus case data. The article referred to global case data, not Russia’s.
The deciding games of the monthlong European soccer championship have for years been planned for London, where Wembley Stadium is set to host both semifinals and the final of the quadrennial event next month.
Only weeks before the Euro 2020 final, though, organizers and the British government are discussing exemptions to pandemic travel restrictions that would allow thousands of overseas supporters — and as many as 2,500 V.I.P.s — to attend the games in London.
If an agreement, or a compromise, cannot be reached, UEFA, the governing body for European soccer that runs the championship, has not ruled out moving the final to another country.
“There is always a contingency plan but we are confident that the final week will be held in London,” UEFA said in a statement.
Both sides had thought the coronavirus infection rates would have fallen by the time the tournament’s deciding games were to be played at Wembley in early July. Instead, case numbers are surging in England, largely because of a new and aggressive variant of the virus, and that led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to postpone lifting the final restrictions on social distancing that had been planned for June 21.
That delay already means that any hopes of playing in front of capacity crowds at Wembley have been dashed; it has already been announced that the 90,000-seat stadium instead will operate at only half its capacity for the two semifinals and final. The stadium — one of 11 being used across Europe — is allowing only 22,500 fans for three group-stage games being played there.
Privately, officials on both sides expressed confidence that a compromise can be found to keep the game in Britain, though news reports have said that Budapest, the only host stadium operating at full capacity during the Euros, is being considered as a fallback option.
The Pacific archipelago nation of Fiji has asked Australia to deploy a medical support team to its capital, Suva, as it battles one of the fastest-growing coronavirus outbreaks in the region.
James Fong, Fiji’s health secretary, said at a news conference this week, “The Australians will provide for contingency beyond our current surge preparations.”
“We have extra space to deploy for field hospitals, and we have extra critical-care capacity we have yet to activate,” he added. “They come to help us plan beyond that.”
Australia has not publicly responded to the request, but Fiji’s needs are acute: After months of virtually no community transmission, the country has been pummeled over the past eight weeks by the highly contagious coronavirus variant known as Delta.
A single infection in an isolation center has fueled a major outbreak after infected people attended funerals, weddings and kava ceremonies, at which people customarily drink from the same bowl, that turned into superspreader events.
Fiji, with a population of about 900,000, now has more than 1,000 known active cases, with five people having died from the virus, according to a New York Times database. The authorities on Friday reported 91 new cases.
About 26 percent of Fijians have received at least one dose of an AstraZeneca vaccine, with doses acquired through the Covax global vaccine initiative or donated by Australia and New Zealand.
The government in Fiji has resisted calls for a 28-day national lockdown, citing concerns about the economic effects, and instead imposed targeted local restrictions, including locking down hospitals, closing Parliament and restricting travel between urban areas.
In a televised address last week, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the risks of a lockdown were too great. “People’s jobs may never return,” he said. “We’d suffer structural unemployment through the permanent loss of industries and I cannot allow that to happen, and I will not.”
Already, some Fijians face shortages of food and medical supplies, leading to anti-lockdown protests in the region of Nadi. Humanitarian workers from Save The Children Fiji said that children were going hungry or surviving on canned fish and biscuits because their parents were unable to work.
“Many families have told us they are exhausted,” Shairana Ali, the organization’s director, said in a statement. “Many parents are going hungry to stretch out whatever little food they have to be able to feed their children.”
Although travelers last summer enjoyed the retro appeal of wide-open roads relatively free of crowds, this summer is likely to have distinctly 21st-century levels of traffic.
According to Transportation Security Administration checkpoint numbers, a survey of more than 1,000 respondents by a tire company shows that more than half of Americans plan to vacation only by car this summer, and that nearly 80 percent feel safer in a car than they do on a plane.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Pandemic laws — and culture — still vary from place to place. Several online tools can help clarify destination-specific rules about masks, distancing, capacity restrictions and more, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Planner and the AAA’s Covid-19 Travel Restrictions map.
Rental cars are scarce. Spokeswomen from Enterprise Holdings and Hertz both acknowledged the high demand and limited availability that have spawned a widespread rental car shortage.
In short: Research well, book in advance and brace for closures.
And prepare for what could be long stretches in the car. The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that President Biden signed into law in mid-March, the American Rescue Plan, has allocated funds to state and local governments for transportation and infrastructure investments, so roadwork may be jamming up the highways. Distractions are in order; be sure to download the newest audiobooks and podcasts.