Let’s Fly Away: Americans, Overseas Hot Spots Eager For Return Of Travel

Despite the eagerness of many people to hit the road again — and the need…

Despite the eagerness of many people to hit the road again — and the need in many places for those tourist dollars — covid restrictions, vaccination requirements and other pandemic details are causing confusion and some hesitancy. News reports also examine China’s vaccination efforts, the situation in India and controversy in Thailand about vaccines.

International Travel Opens To The Vaccinated, But How Do You Prove You Got The Shot? 

There’s good news and bad news for Americans who have been itching to take a European vacation. Spain reopens to vaccinated tourists on June 7. Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia and other countries are opening up again soon. But in order to go, travelers will have to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated, and it’s not yet clear how they’ll do that. That’s causing a lot of confusion among those with pent-up wanderlust, as demand for air travel has been soaring in recent weeks. (Schaper, 5/27)

NBC News:
As Europe Eases Travel Restrictions, Vacation Hot Spots Hope American Tourists Return

They have a reputation for being loud and obnoxious, but as Europe looks set to reopen its borders to foreign visitors in time for the summer travel season, it’s hoping American tourists will make a comeback. The European Union signaled last week that it will ease restrictions for vaccinated travelers from outside the bloc, including the United States. The E.U. shut its borders last year in a bid to stop Covid-19 from spreading, but many member states that are heavily reliant on tourism are desperate for foreign travelers to return. (Talmazan and Lavanga, 5/28)

Trudeau’s Own MPs Demand Plan For Canada-U.S. Border

American lawmakers have so far spearheaded the push to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ease pandemic restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border. But as more Canadians are vaccinated the pressure is now coming from within Trudeau’s own Liberal caucus. Longtime Liberal MP Wayne Easter, who chairs the House of Commons finance committee, told POLITICO on Thursday that the Trudeau government must lay out a border reopening plan — and soon. (Blatchford, 5/27)

The Wall Street Journal:
Russia Rolls Out Covid-19 Vaccine For Animals

As Russia’s efforts to vaccinate its population against Covid-19 sputter, authorities have turned to a new target group: animals. Russian officials said they rolled out a homegrown animal vaccine, Carnivac-Cov, after trials showed that it generates antibodies in dogs, cats, foxes and mink. While scientists say there is no strong evidence that animals play a large part in spreading Covid-19 to people, infections have been recorded in various species worldwide, including dogs, cats and apes. Massive outbreaks have been observed especially in mink farms, with Denmark culling millions of the mammals last year amid fears of new mutations. (Kantchev, 5/27)

The Wall Street Journal:
China’s Vaccination Surge Could Accelerate Asian Recovery From Covid

After a slow start, China’s vaccination campaign is roaring into action and now accounts for around half of the doses being distributed daily around the world. If anything like that pace holds, it could overturn expectations of the pace of recovery in Asia and emerging markets globally. About 20 million vaccines were distributed on Thursday alone and over the past week, vaccinations have proceeded at a pace faster than the U.S., European Union or U.K. have registered at any point during their rollout. UBS economists note that it’s worth watching for any pinch in supply of Chinese vaccines to countries currently deploying them: notably Chile, Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil. (Bird, 5/28)

South Asia Crosses 30 Million COVID-19 Cases As India Battles Second Wave

Coronavirus infections in the South Asia region surpassed 30 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally of official data, led by India which is struggling with a second COVID-19 wave and a vaccine shortage across the region. India, the second most-populous country in the world, this month recorded its highest COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic began last year, accounting for just over a third of the overall total. (M and Maan, 5/28)

The Washington Post:
India’s Covid Surge Has Killed More Than 500 Doctors And Sickened Hundreds Of Others Since March

The dead include an orthopedic surgeon in his 60s and an obstetrician in his 20s. They include community doctors who examined patients with their first symptoms, and specialists who worked around-the-clock in covid-19 hospital wards, trying to save gravely ill victims. Across India, hundreds of doctors have died in the new wave of coronavirus infections that has ravaged the country. The Indian Medical Association this week confirmed the covid-related deaths of 515 physicians since March, publishing their names and pictures. The group previously reported that 748 doctors had died because of the virus in 2020. (Constable and Dutta, 5/28)

India Posts Lowest Daily Rise In COVID-19 Cases In Over A Month

India reported on Friday 186,364 new coronavirus infections during the previous 24 hours, for its lowest daily rise since April 14, while deaths rose by 3,660. The South Asian nation’s tally of infections now stands at 27.56 million, with the death toll at 318,895, health ministry data show. (5/28)

UK Cases Of Indian Variant Double To Nearly 7,000 In A Week

Britain has seen a total of nearly 7,000 cases of the B.1.617.2 coronavirus variant of concern first identified in India, more than double the previous total, Public Health England (PHE) said on Thursday. PHE said that there were a total of 6,959 confirmed cases of the variant, up 3,535 from the total reported last week. (5/27)

Thailand Aims At Pandemic Risks By Fighting Wildlife Trade

Thailand is ramping up efforts to curb trade in wildlife to help reduce the risk of future pandemics, officials said Thursday, though it was unclear whether that would mean an end to all such sales in the wildlife trafficking hub. The government intends to make Thailand “free of the legal wildlife trade” while also combatting illegal trafficking in wild animals, Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment Waravut Silpa-archa said Thursday. Speaking in pre-recorded addresses, Silpa-archa and other officials said the pandemic has raised the urgency of shutting down the supply chain of wildlife and game meat that may harbor pathogens that cause COVID-19, Ebola and other illnesses in people. (Kurtenbach, 5/28)

The Washington Post:
Thai Princess Approves Sinopharm Vaccine Imports As Covid Infections, Anger Mount

The sister of Thailand’s king raised eyebrows this week when she bypassed the country’s government and approved coronavirus vaccine imports by a research institution she chairs. The surprise intervention was the latest incident in which Southeast Asian elites appeared to skirt their countries’ rules on vaccination use and procurement, and comes as another wave of covid-19 infections crashes over the region. In Malaysia, outrage erupted recently over a report that the king was inoculated overseas even as other Malaysians wait their turn. And in the Philippines, anger lingers over how foreigners and the president’s bodyguards received early access to vaccines. (Miller, 5/28)

The Hill:
EU Health Official: People Probably Died Due To AstraZeneca Vaccine Delays

A European Union health official on Thursday argued that some people in the region likely died from COVID-19 due to delays in the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Pierre Delsaux, the deputy director general at DG SANTE, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, said during a Politico Live virtual panel titled, “Health in the EU’s post-COVID-19 recovery,” that some EU states relying on the AstraZeneca shot, which was developed in partnership with Oxford University, resulted in a “disaster.” (Castronuovo, 5/27)

In other health news from around the globe —

AstraZeneca Drug Tagrisso Gets EU Nod For Early Lung Cancer Treatment

AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) top-selling Tagrisso drug has been approved for use in the European Union to treat patients with a type of early-stage lung cancer, the company said on Friday. The European Commission has approved the lung cancer drug as an add-on treatment for adults diagnosed early enough for the tumour to be surgically removed, and who have a mutation of the EGFR gene, the British drugmaker said. The approval was based on positive results from a late-stage trial called ADAURA, which showed Tagrisso cut the risk of the tumour growing back in patients or death by 80%. (5/28)

The Hill:
Naomi Osaka Cites Mental Health In Skipping French Open Press Room

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka says that in an effort to protect her mental health, she won’t be speaking to the media at this year’s French Open, risking substantial fines. Osaka, the current world No. 2, said on her Instagram Wednesday that seeing other players have mental breakdowns in the press room after losses led to her decision, adding she doesn’t believe in “kicking a person while they are down.” (Oshin, 5/27)

The Wall Street Journal:
Ireland’s Health Service Warns Staff Not To Use Work Devices

A ransomware attack on May 14 forced Ireland’s public healthcare system to shut down its technology services, leading to delays and cancellations of medical appointments. Shortly after the attack, the Health Service Executive published instructions for employees on its website. Many of the systems run by the organization are still down, and services such as X-rays and radiology are unavailable in many places. Employees could potentially spread ransomware if they leave their work devices on, or they could leave an opening for attackers to enter the network again after the initial attack, said Brian Honan, executive director of BH Consulting, a Dublin-based firm that advises companies, including those hit by ransomware attacks. (Stupp, 5/28)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.