US Considers Requiring Travelers from Britain to Prove They Tested Negative for COVID-19

U.S. officials are considering a requirement for all travelers from Britain to offer proof they have tested negative for COVID-19.News outlets say the White House coronavirus task force met Monday and discussed crafting a rule that passengers prove they have taken a negative test within 48 or 72 hours before leaving Britain.The proposed rule comes as more than 40 countries have suspended travelers from Britain in response to a dramatic rise of infections because of a new strain of COVID-19 sweeping across southern Britain.WHO Says No Evidence Coronavirus Variant is Deadlier, More Severe Social distancing remains best way to avoid catching virus, experts sayDiscovery of the new variant has overshadowed the introduction of the new COVID-19 vaccines developed separately by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Hospitals across the United States received nearly 6 million doses of the vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, adding to the 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipped last week for a vaccination effort that has started with front-line health care workers and nursing home residents.The European Union Monday authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine across the 27-nation bloc after its regulatory agency, the European Medicines Agency said the inoculation meets quality and safety standards.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said deliveries of the vaccine are scheduled to start Saturday, with inoculations beginning across the EU Dec. 27-29.“This is a very good way to end this difficult year and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19,” she said of the disease caused by the coronavirus.EU Approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID Vaccine US begins distributing second coronavirus vaccine across the countryThe Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be effective in late-stage trials in Brazil, citing people involved in the vaccine’s development.The Journal said Brazil is the first country to complete late-stage trials of Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, which is also being tested in Indonesia and Turkey. It said Brazilian officials will announce the vaccine’s efficacy rate Wednesday.  With the number of new COVID-19 vaccines increasing, the Vatican says it is “morally acceptable” for Roman Catholics to receive vaccines developed using tissue from aborted fetuses.   The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church’s doctrinal oversight office, issued a statement Monday granting permission for Catholics to take such vaccines because it does not “constitute formal cooperation” with the means in which the tissue was obtained.  The office also said it is not always possible to obtain vaccines that do not pose an ethical dilemma.  The Vatican’s statement echoes one made last week by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to American Catholics, who said receiving the vaccines is justified “in view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines.” The Roman Catholic Church has long opposed development of vaccines or other therapeutic treatments using stem cells obtained from abortions, which the Church considers a moral sin.   The Vatican’s doctrinal office said that vaccination must be voluntary, and that those who refuse to be vaccinated “must do their utmost” to avoid becoming infected and spreading the disease.  The office also said there is a “moral imperative” for the pharmaceutical industry, governments and international organizations to ensure that vaccines “are also accessible to the poorest countries”. 

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