Lowell Sun Thu, 03 Dec 2020 03:17:13 +0000 en-US hourly 30 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.2 /wp-content/uploads/2019/07/cropped-sun-site-icon.png?w=32 Lowell Sun 32 32 156563944 Concord Park recognizes senior living “heroes” /2020/12/03/concord-park-recognizes-senior-living-heroes/ /2020/12/03/concord-park-recognizes-senior-living-heroes/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:52:37 +0000 /?p=1320676 CONCORD – They are some of the unsung heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic: the dedicated men and women who work in local senior living communities, helping to keep residents healthy and happy while providing as much normalcy as possible.

At Concord Park Assisted Living and Compass Memory Support in West Concord, the leadership team is expressing their gratitude for the associates who are going above and beyond every day.

“We have such a close-knit community here at Concord Park, and our associates are the foundation of that,” said Executive Director Natasha Heimrath. “Working with seniors is a passion for them, and while we never could have anticipated how Covid-19 would change our lives, our dedicated team of caregivers, housekeepers, community relations associates, servers, chefs, and buildings and grounds workers didn’t miss a beat. These individuals come to work everyday to care for our residents, protect them and continue the fight against Covid-19. I am so inspired by their bravery, unity, and love for our residents and this community.”

Some of the community’s associates recently opened up about their experiences working at the assisted living community and what it means to them.

Rodeline Joseph, a resident care associate, who has worked at Concord Park for more than 13 years, considers Concord Park to be a family.

“I love it here,” she says. “I love the residents, providing them with the very best care and the compass memory support Neighborhood is like a family to me.”

Resident Care Associate Neuri Miguel agrees.

“The residents are like family to me and I treat them as I would want someone to treat my grandparents,” she says. “I love all the life stories the residents share with me and appreciate each day we spend together.”

Emerson Decosta, Concord Park sous chef, also considers working with seniors and hearing about their life stories and experiences to be a highlight of his job.

“I enjoy talking with them, learning about their experiences and being a part of improving their quality of life,” he says.

Overall, the team at Concord Park believes that their work is rewarding because it makes a difference in the lives of residents.

“I love working here at Concord Park,” says Marrisa Baril, one of the community’s wellness nurses. “It’s such a rewarding experience being part of a team that helps seniors maintain their independence and live well.”

Concord Park Assisted Living and Compass Memory Support is a Volunteers of America Massachusetts nonprofit senior community located in West Concord.

/2020/12/03/concord-park-recognizes-senior-living-heroes/feed/ 0 1320676 2020-12-03T01:52:37+00:00 2020-12-01T11:02:43+00:00
Shirley special town meeting over in fewer than 30 minutes /2020/12/03/shirley-special-town-meeting-over-in-fewer-than-30-minutes/ /2020/12/03/shirley-special-town-meeting-over-in-fewer-than-30-minutes/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:35:44 +0000 /?p=1320794 SHIRLEY – The special town meeting – held in the middle school gym rather than the auditorium to allow space for social distancing — wrapped in about 27 minutes Monday night, with 36 voters present.

“This is a time in our community when we don’t like gatherings,” Town Moderator Karen Ludington said when she convened the meeting and sketched out “special rules” to keep it short. “We don’t want to be in this room together” longer than necessary.

For safety as well as brevity, no voter cards were handed out. Votes were by voice or raised hands, with counters standing by.

Ludington didn’t mention the latest Covid-19 figures, or note that the town is in the “red zone.” But she cautioned those who stood up to speak not to touch the microphone. There were only a couple. Other “special rules” she set out at the start included a shortened speaking time of two minutes and one time at the mic allowed per person, per article.

In another abbreviation, the warrant itself was downsized, shelving several articles that might have sparked discussion and which the moderator said would not impact anyone’s salary and could wait.

The first motion, made by the moderator, called for passing over four of the original 12 articles on the warrant, numbers 1 ,2, 4 and 12, all of which voters agreed to postpone indefinitely.

The first fly-over – Article 1 – sought to amend the town bylaw that refers to the Board of Selectmen, changing the title to “Select Board” to reflect the board’s gender neutral makeup, among other reasons. That change, however, will have to wait.

So will another bylaw change, as proposed in Article 12, forwarded by the Finance Committee.

It sought to amend a section that spells out the fincom’s form and function. The amendment would insert language to clarify the board’s jurisdiction, according to the summary, stating that members may consider and make recommendations on all warrant articles, not just financial ones.

Article 2 was also passed over. It sought to establish a nuisance bylaw that would have set more stringent rules about the upkeep of business properties in town.

Article 4 seemed more urgent. It sought voters’ okay to transfer $100,000 from the capital stabilization fund to buy a new repeater/receiver for the Fire Dept., to deal with a communication system “dead zone.”

Fire Chief Troy Cooley spotted the communications gap while Shirley firefighters were battling a blaze on Ayer Road recently. Nobody was hurt but the house burned down.

Town Administrator Mike McGovern explained why that article can wait, despite the clear need.

There’s another funding option, he said, an E-911 grant that the state program’s director “strongly recommended” that the town apply for. If successful, the money could come in by July, 2021 for the next fiscal year.

Cooley says he can wait until then for the equipment and can safely make do in the meantime.

In a phone conversation with the Nashoba Valley Voice Tuesday morning, McGovern said the new equipment is still a must, but the chief knows now where the dead zone is, geographically, and can plan accordingly until he gets it.

The rest of the articles passed.

Article 3 sought acceptance of Waxen Way as a town road. It passed by the required majority.

Articles 5-8 called for ratification of union contracts, police, clerical, DPW and fire departments, respectively. All four articles passed.

Article 9 sought to appropriate money from an account established last year to fund the town’s public access cable corporation, or SPACO, which airs public meetings – live and recorded – and provides other programs on three public stations, plus internet options such as streaming and video on demand.

The money in the account comes from the town’s contract with Comcast, not the town budget. It allows SPACO to operate, McGovern said.

Article 10, which also passed, amended the salary classification schedule, placing the chief assessor’s position – previously a union job – on the grid. According to the article summary, the designation – grade 11 – aligns with the town’s other top financial positions, treasurer and accountant.

Article 11 sought to add three new positions to the fire department roster and to transfer $30,000 to fund the positions for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Described in a handout, the gist of it is that the chief needs more hands on deck, as the town administrator explained.

For the most part, it’s an E-911 issue. The ambulance needs a crew of two on board, McGovern said, and since some call-ins come from out of town, even as far as Lowell, it can take up to 12 or 13 minutes for the ambulance to get out the door. With three more full-time staff, that time could be cut to two minutes, McGovern said.

Only 17 of the people on the fire chief’s “volunteer” roster live in town, and not all of them respond regularly to calls. “It’s tough” to get enough people to sign up these days, McGovern said.

Having re-routed shifts to accommodate the shortage, three full-time firefighters, including the chief, now work 48 hours per week in staggered shifts. Funding for those added hours comes from FEMA and CARES grants. “Otherwise, we couldn’t afford it,” McGovern said.

The article passed on a voice vote, with one “no.”

Before the meeting wrapped, Ludington announced it was her last time at the podium.

“It’s been an honor and for the most part a great pleasure,” to serve as town moderator, she said.

Now, there’s an opportunity for someone else to step up. “I urge you to consider running,” she said, adding that she’d be available to meet with” potential candidates.

/2020/12/03/shirley-special-town-meeting-over-in-fewer-than-30-minutes/feed/ 0 1320794 2020-12-03T01:35:44+00:00 2020-12-01T14:48:34+00:00
The left’s gender theories are anti-scientific nonsense, but they’re gaining ground /2020/12/03/the-lefts-gender-theories-are-anti-scientific-nonsense-but-theyre-gaining-ground/ /2020/12/03/the-lefts-gender-theories-are-anti-scientific-nonsense-but-theyre-gaining-ground/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:23:33 +0000 /?p=1321130 On Nov. 22, 2020, New York Times columnist Charles Blow unleashed one of the most bizarre tweets in recent memory. “Stop doing gender reveals,” he stated. “They’re not cute; they’re violent. All we know before a child is born is their anatomy. They will reveal their gender. It may match your expectations of that anatomy, and it may not. If you love the child you will be patient, attentive and open.”

This is patently insane for a variety of reasons.

First, the characterization of gender reveal parties — parties during which parents celebrate finding out whether their unborn children are boys or girls — as “violent” is, in and of itself, radically nuts. Parents are excited to learn whether their children will be boys or girls. That is absolutely unobjectionable. But for an ardent fan of abortion on demand such as Blow to characterize a gender reveal party celebrating the sex of an unborn baby as “violent” while characterizing the in utero dismemberment of that same unborn baby as “choice” is so morally benighted as to boggle the mind.

Blow’s tweet goes further. The implication that parents are doing violence against their own children if they connect sex and gender is utterly anti-evidentiary. Sex and gender are interconnected. For nearly every human being born, biological sex will correspond with genital development in the womb. And gender, contrary to the idiotic, pseudoscientific paganism of the gender theory set, is not some free-floating set of biases we bring to the table. Males and females have different qualities in a variety of functions, attitudes, desires and capabilities. In every human culture — indeed, in every mammalian species — meaningful distinctions between male and female remain. To reduce children to genderless unicorns simply awaiting hormonal guidance from within piles absurdity upon absurdity.

And, of course, Blow’s take on “patience” is not limitless. Presumably, should your daughter announce that she is a boy at the tender age of 5, all measures will immediately be taken to ensure that she is treated as a boy by those such as Blow. There will be no call for watchful waiting; to do so would be yet another act of “violence.”

Why does any of this matter? Because Blow’s perspective has become mainstream on the left. In October, Healthline, a supposed medical resource, ran an article reviewed by a licensed marriage and family therapist titled “‘Do Vulva Owners Like Sex?’ Is the Wrong Question — Here’s What You Should Ask Instead.” Whether “vulva owners” like sex is indeed the wrong question. The right question, to begin, might be what makes “vulva owners” distinct from women; as a follow-up, we might ask how one would go about leasing or renting a vulva if ownership seems like too much of a burden.

But the madness gains ground. CNN reported in July that the American Cancer Society had changed its recommendations on the proper age for cervical cancer screenings for women, only CNN termed women “individuals with a cervix.” Which seems rather degrading to women, come to think of it.

Lest we believe that this is merely some lunatic fringe, it is worth noting that Blow, Healthline and CNN are merely saying out loud what those who place gender pronouns in their Twitter bios, such as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, imply: that gender and sex are completely severable, and that biology has nothing to do with the former. President-elect Joe Biden has openly stated that an 8-year-old can decide on his transgenderism; Sen. Elizabeth Warren infamously stated that she would have a 9-year-old transgender child screen her secretary of education nominee. Male and female are arbitrary categories to which anyone can claim membership.

Unless, of course, the left wishes to treat sex as an important characteristic. Then the logic changes. Thus, it is historic that Biden has nominated an all-female communications team, and it is deeply moving that Harris is a woman.

It’s almost as though the definitions of words have no meaning, according to the left. All that matters is fealty to whatever narrative the chosen moral caste dictates on a daily basis. And if you cross it, you’re doing violence.

Ben Shapiro, 36, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. Visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

/2020/12/03/the-lefts-gender-theories-are-anti-scientific-nonsense-but-theyre-gaining-ground/feed/ 0 1321130 2020-12-03T01:23:33+00:00 2020-12-02T13:29:17+00:00
Letters to the Editor: My president; Response to Biden editorial /2020/12/03/letters-to-the-editor-my-president-response-to-biden-editorial/ /2020/12/03/letters-to-the-editor-my-president-response-to-biden-editorial/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:14:33 +0000 /?p=1321123 Joe Biden is my president

My president is the type of guy that knows how to roll up his sleeves and get to work. My president knows that even during a transition, when president-elect, every moment is precious in terms of realigning public policies to serve the people, not rob the people. My president is humble and knows he can’t do it alone but assembles a team of dedicated public servants with a wealth of knowledge and a can-do spirit. My president was elected by a landslide and will soon become OUR president whether acknowledged or not. Our soon-to-be President Joe Biden, aka #46, will serve ALL the people, not merely special interests, but all so that we may get a tad closer to the ideal America, we all long for and need desperately.

Genevieve Fraser

In response to “Biden must not burden businesses”

The Nov. 29 editorial, “Biden must not burden businesses,”is a fine argument — if you live in an alternate reality where money can buy us a new planet, once this one is destroyed. Environmental regulations are one of the best tools we have to rein in corporate greed, and return some of the environmental costs of business into “free” market decision-making.

The free market is not free — it is just pushing costs onto the poor, who suffer the most from the wasteful pollution it creates, and onto our descendants, who will live with the extreme effects of climate change.

Businesses that proceed recklessly without the burden of regulation have no incentive to take into account those costs. The environmental debts will catch up with business eventually — when climate disruptions make their day-to-day operations impossible. The “burden” of regulations will look like a light tap in the right direction compared to the dystopian future a regulation-free economy guarantees. Let’s bring on the burdens we need for a sustainable economy. Regulation to keep the planet in balance is the kind of burden that ultimately makes us stronger.

Mary Memmott

/2020/12/03/letters-to-the-editor-my-president-response-to-biden-editorial/feed/ 0 1321123 2020-12-03T01:14:33+00:00 2020-12-02T13:34:21+00:00
Scout food drive a big success in Shirley /2020/12/03/scout-food-drive-a-big-success-in-shirley/ /2020/12/03/scout-food-drive-a-big-success-in-shirley/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:12:02 +0000 /?p=1320723 SHIRLEY – The spirit of giving is strong in the town of Shirley this year.

More than 10,000 pounds of food was collected for Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry during the 31st-annual Scout Food Drive, up 18% from last year and setting an all-time record for the event.

Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts, along with other high school volunteers from Shirley and neighboring towns dropped donation bags at the 凯发真人试玩首页homes of Shirley residents on November 8.

Residents were asked to fill the bags with as much or as little as they could comfortably spare. Donations were collected and sorted at the the Lura A. White Elementary School on November 15.

Because of Covid-19 safety protocols, the sorting took longer this year.

Volunteers worked outside and into the dark. According to Sara Balmos, one of the event’s organizers, “it ended up being lit by headlights.”

Once the food items were sorted they were transported to the Loaves and Fishes at Devens.

Loaves and Fishes serves the communities of Ayer, Devens, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Littleton, and Shirley.

Loaves and Fishes has a “no questions asked” policy.

Head organizer Joyce Reischutz notes that, “the pandemic has created more need, this is an important year.”

In the end, the town of Shirley stepped up to help fill that need.

/2020/12/03/scout-food-drive-a-big-success-in-shirley/feed/ 0 1320723 2020-12-03T01:12:02+00:00 2020-12-01T12:19:44+00:00
Police-reform bill requires a qualified rewrite /2020/12/03/police-reform-bill-requires-a-qualified-rewrite/ /2020/12/03/police-reform-bill-requires-a-qualified-rewrite/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 06:10:14 +0000 /?p=1321169 Legislation creating a police accountability and oversight system with the power to certify and decertify officers is on its way to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

The question now is whether Baker will sign the bill as written, or seek revisions that are more in line with his views on police reform.

Even many Democrats in the Legislature they dominate had misgivings about the final product.

The House accepted the bill, 92-67, with all Republicans voting against it and over 30 Democrats joining them. It passed the Senate on a 28-12 vote, with eight Democrats aligning with the Republican minority.

After George Floyd died in late May while pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee, months of rallies against police brutality and violence occurred across the country.

After several contentious debates followed by four months of closed-door negotiations, House and Senate Democrats announced a compromise Monday.

The 129-page document creates a police accountability and oversight system, under which officers would be certified every three years and could lose their certification for certain violations, including excessive use of force.

The state’s powerful police unions reacted by asking Baker to veto a bill they characterize as a “radical, cruel” attack on law enforcement.

MassCOP, with 4,300 union members, said the bill was “motivated by incidents of police violence in other states, not Massachusetts” — which it says has the third-lowest rate of police killings in the nation.

The bill would create a majority-civilian, nine-member Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission to oversee policing and with the ity to de-certify officers accused of misconduct — a first in the state’s history.

The bill also aims to ban chokeholds, limit no-knock police warrants in instances where children or people over 65 are present, and places a moratorium on facial recognition technology.

The original Senate bill would have curbed the use of qualified immunity in instances where a police officer — and potentially other public officials — should have reasonably known their behavior violated the law, a subjective standard open to interpretation.

This legislation creates a committee to study qualified immunity, which protects officers from civil liability in instances of misconduct, but the legislation does take a first step at rolling back those protections by revoking civil-liability protections over an officer’s actions that result in decertification.

Gov. Baker previously indicated his support for a bill that would introduce a system for police accountability, but he’s reserved judgment on specific language in this bill — including its reforms of qualified immunity — saying he hadn’t had enough time to review the package.

Baker, who filed his own, somewhat narrower police accountability and certification legislation in June, has 10 days to sign the bill, veto it, or return it with amendments.

In this situation, he may have more influence than usual over what ultimately becomes law. While Democrats wield super-majorities in both chambers, the House vote did not reach a two-thirds majority, so legislative leaders may not have the numbers to pass something over Baker’s head.

National protests against police violence and the disproportionate impacts communities of color experience from the criminal justice system provided the catalyst for this legislation.

Not all police departments adhere to the same high level of professional conduct, which happens to be the norm in Massachusetts.

The governor must take that into consideration while weighing the merits of this bill.

We believe the entire question of qualified immunity needs further study, and shouldn’t be tinkered with until the completion of that review.

Sufficient remedies already exist to remove an officer for dereliction of duty.

That’s the message the governor should send to Senate and House leaders.

/2020/12/03/police-reform-bill-requires-a-qualified-rewrite/feed/ 0 1321169 2020-12-03T01:10:14+00:00 2020-12-02T13:21:59+00:00
Man facing charges in Lowell stabbing /2020/12/02/man-facing-charges-in-lowell-stabbing/ /2020/12/02/man-facing-charges-in-lowell-stabbing/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 03:17:13 +0000 /?p=1321128 LOWELL — A 21-year-old Lowell man is facing felony charges for allegedly stabbing the boyfriend of his child’s mother in the groin during a custody exchange turned violent.

Lowell Police Capt. James Hodgdon said Robert Maker allegedly stabbed another man during a custody exchange at Maker’s 凯发真人试玩首页home on 6th Street in Lowell on Saturday about 12:30 p.m. Hodgdon said Maker has a child with the victim’s girlfriend.

Hodgdon said the victim was hospitalized with a non life-threatening injury, but required surgery.

“The defendant and victim got into a fight after exchanging words,” Hodgdon said.

An investigation by the Lowell Police Criminal Investigation Division led to Maker being arrested and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (knife) causing severe bodily injury, Hodgdon said.

Maker was arraigned Monday in Lowell District Court, where Judge John Coffey ordered him held on $2,500 cash bail, and ordered him to have no contact with the victim or witnesses, to not possess any dangerous weapons, and to abide by a restraining order if he posts bail, according to Marcela Dwork, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Marian Ryan.

Hodgdon said police also responded to another stabbing on Sunday, but that incident was domestic in nature so he could not immediately release details. He said the two incidents were not related.

/2020/12/02/man-facing-charges-in-lowell-stabbing/feed/ 0 1321128 2020-12-02T22:17:13+00:00 2020-12-02T22:17:13+00:00
Wisconsin governor calls Trump lawsuit an ‘assault’ /2020/12/02/wisconsin-governor-calls-trump-lawsuit-an-assault/ /2020/12/02/wisconsin-governor-calls-trump-lawsuit-an-assault/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 02:22:16 +0000 ?p=1321204&preview_id=1321204 By SCOTT BAUER

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn Wisconsin’s election results by tossing ballots only from the state’s two most heavily Democratic counties is an “assault on democracy,” attorneys for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in filings with the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The filings, made late Tuesday, come as the state’s highest court is weighing Trump’s request to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in Milwaukee and Dane counties. Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump by a 2-to-1 margin in those counties on his way to a 20,682-vote win statewide.

Trump is not challenging any ballots in the state’s other 70 counties, the majority of which Trump won. Trump’s legal challenges in other states to overturn election results have failed.

In Wisconsin, Trump wants to skip lower courts, saying in his lawsuit that there isn’t time to go through the normal process due to the looming Dec. 14 date when electors will gather to cast the state’s 10 Electoral College votes.

The state Supreme Court could deny Trump’s request to hear the case, forcing it to lower courts, which would likely kill it. Or it could accept the case and issue a decision later. It could also just render a decision based on the written arguments, although that would be unusual.

Attorneys for Evers, as well as lawyers from the state Department of Justice representing the Wisconsin Elections Commission, urged the court not to accept original jurisdiction of the case, saying it must start in lower courts.

“President Trump’s (lawsuit) seeks nothing less than to overturn the will of nearly 3.3 million Wisconsin voters,” Evers’ attorneys said. “It is a shocking and outrageous assault on our democracy. … He is simply trying to seize Wisconsin’s electoral votes, even though he lost the statewide election.”

Trump’s lawsuit repeats many claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties. He seeks to disqualify 170,140 absentee ballots that were cast early, in-person, saying there wasn’t a proper written request made for the ballots; 28,395 absentee ballots cast by those who claimed “indefinitely confined” status; 17,271 absentee ballots collected by poll workers at Madison parks; and 5,517 absentee ballots where clerks filled in missing information on the envelope the ballots were placed in.

None of the ballots Trump challenged during the recount were discounted by elections officials in Dane and Milwaukee counties. Evers argues in his filings that there is no legal basis for the ballots not to be counted.

For example, Evers notes that the Wisconsin Elections Commission agreed more than four years ago to allow election clerks to fill in missing information on envelopes containing absentee ballots. And the commission at least since 2011 said that the envelope doubles as a written request, something Trump is contesting.

Evers’ attorneys say Trump’s arguments related to the accepting of ballots in Madison’s parks and challenges to those who identified as “indefinitely confined” should have been raised before the election.

The state Justice Department also faulted Trump for seeking to invalidate only ballots in two counties “presumably for partisan reasons,” even though each category of vote they are trying to disqualify relies on statewide guidance and ballots “surely” were cast in other counties.

Attorneys for Evers and the elections commission also argued that it would be wrong to throw out ballots cast by people who relied on guidance from elections officials.

“Widespread disenfranchisement for following the rules does not comport with due process or a healthy democracy,” Justice Department attorneys said.

The Democratic National Committee and Biden’s electors are also attempting to intervene in the lawsuit.

Late Wednesday night, the Trump campaign filed another lawsuit in federal court, echoing many of the claims in its state lawsuit, as well as in two other lawsuits brought by Republicans over Trump’s loss in Wisconsin.

/2020/12/02/wisconsin-governor-calls-trump-lawsuit-an-assault/feed/ 0 1321204 2020-12-02T21:22:16+00:00 2020-12-02T21:22:17+00:00
Today’s question – Will you take the coronavirus vaccine when it’s available? /2020/12/02/todays-question-will-you-take-the-coronavirus-vaccine-when-its-available/ /2020/12/02/todays-question-will-you-take-the-coronavirus-vaccine-when-its-available/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2020 01:54:26 +0000 /?p=1321340

Will you take the coronavirus vaccine when it’s available?

— The Lowell Sun (@LowellSunNews) December 2, 2020

/2020/12/02/todays-question-will-you-take-the-coronavirus-vaccine-when-its-available/feed/ 0 1321340 2020-12-02T20:54:26+00:00 2020-12-02T20:54:26+00:00
Britain OKs Pfizer vaccine and will begin shots within days /2020/12/02/britain-oks-pfizer-vaccine-and-will-begin-shots-within-days/ /2020/12/02/britain-oks-pfizer-vaccine-and-will-begin-shots-within-days/#respond Wed, 02 Dec 2020 23:45:30 +0000 ?p=1321084&preview_id=1321084 By LAURAN NEERGAARD and DANICA KIRKA

LONDON (AP) — Britain became the first country in the world to ize a rigorously tested COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday and could be dispensing shots within days — a historic step toward eventually ending the outbreak that has killed more than 1.4 million people around the globe.

In giving the go-ahead for emergency use of the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, Britain vaulted past the United States by at least a week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not scheduled to consider the vaccine until Dec. 10.

“This is a day to remember, frankly, in a year to forget,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

The announcement sets the stage for the biggest vaccination campaign in British history and came just ahead of what experts are warning will be a long, dark winter, with the coronavirus surging to epic levels in recent weeks in the U.S. and Europe.

Officials cautioned that several tough months still lie ahead even in Britain, given the monumental task of inoculating large swaths of the population. Because of the limited initial supply, the first shots will be reserved for those most in danger, namely nursing 凯发真人试玩首页home residents, the elderly and health care workers.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommended the vaccine after clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers showed it was 95% effective and turned up no serious side effects. The vaccine is still considered experimental while final testing is done.

“This is an unprecedented piece of science,” given that the vaccine was ized less than a year after the virus was discovered, said David Harper, senior consulting fellow in global health at the Chatham House think tank.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that the “searchlights of science” had picked out the “invisible enemy,” which has been blamed for close to 60,000 deaths in Britain. He said that in developing the vaccine, scientists had performed “biological jujitsu” by turning the virus on itself.

Other countries aren’t far behind: Regulators in not only the U.S. but the European Union and Canada also are vetting the Pfizer vaccine along with a shot made by Moderna. British and Canadian regulators are also considering a vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Amid growing concern that Americans will greet vaccines with skepticism, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Britain’s decision “should give Americans additional confidence in the quality of such a vaccine.” The virus has killed more than 270,000 in the U.S. On Wednesday, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on an expert panel’s recommendation that health care workers and nursing 凯发真人试玩首页home residents be the first to be vaccinated when shots become available.

Hancock said Britain will begin receiving the first shipment of 800,000 doses from Belgium within days, and people will start getting the shots as soon as it arrives. Two doses three weeks apart are required. The country expects to receive millions of doses by the end of this year, Hancock said, though the exact number will depend on how fast it can be manufactured and checked for quality.

BioNTech, which owns the vaccine, said it has so far signed deals to supply 570 million doses worldwide in 2021, with options to deliver 600 million more. It hopes to supply at least 1.3 billion in 2021.

That is only a fraction of what will be needed as public health officials try to vaccinate much of the world’s population. Experts have said several vaccines will be required to quickly end the pandemic that has infected more than 64 million people globally.

In Britain, the first shots will go to nursing 凯发真人试玩首页home residents and those who care for them, followed by everyone over 80 and health care workers. From there, the program will be expanded as the supply increases, with the vaccine offered roughly on the basis of age groups, starting with the oldest people.

Amid the burst of optimism, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla warned governments against any immediate move to relax restrictions and reopen their economies.

“The time that we will have to go back to normality is not far away,” he said. “But it is definitely not now.”

Despite the speed with which they approved the vaccine, and the intense political pressure surrounding the worldwide race to solve the crisis, British regulators insisted “no corners have been cut” during the review process.

The MHRA made its recommendation after a so-called rolling review that allowed it to assess information about the vaccine as it came in, starting back in October.

“The safety of the public will always come first,” said Dr. June Raine, the agency’s chief executive. “And I emphasize again that this recommendation has only been given by the MHRA following the most rigorous scientific assessment of every piece of data.”

Getting that message to the public will be critical if any vaccination program is to be successful. Some people are worried about getting any vaccine, never mind a new one.

“But I think once they understand and see everyone else having it without hesitation, I think you’ll find that people will go and have it,” Jacqueline Roubians, a 76-year-old retired nurse, said at Brixton Market in London. “People are dying of COVID, so you make that decision: Do you want to die or do you want the vaccine?”

In addition to the huge logistical challenges of distributing the vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech one must be stored and shipped at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit).

Pfizer said it has developed shipping containers that use dry ice and GPS-enabled sensors will allow the company to track each shipment and ensure it stays cold.

Every country has different rules for determining when an experimental vaccine is safe and effective enough to use. China and Russia have offered different vaccines to their citizens before they had gone through large-scale, late-stage testing.

Hours after Britain’s announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin, not to be outdone, ordered the start of a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination campaign by late next week, with doctors and teachers to be first in line to receive the Sputnik V shot, whose name was inspired by the 1957 satellite that was one of Moscow’s proudest technical achievements.

The Russian vaccine won regulatory approval in August but has yet to complete advanced studies of its effectiveness and safety. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said more than 100,000 people in Russia have been given the shots.

Still to be determined is whether the Pfizer-BioNTech shots prevent people from spreading the virus when they have no symptoms. Another question is how long protection lasts.

The vaccine also has been tested in only a small number of children, none younger than 12, and there’s no information on its effects in pregnant women.


Neergaard reported from Alexandria, Virginia. Associated Press writers Frank Jordans in Berlin and Lawless, Pan Pylas and Jo Kearney in London contributed


Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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