More than 6 billion COVID-19 shots have been administered worldwide since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
Some 6.6 billion people had received at least one dose of a vaccine as of early Saturday afternoon, the center reported.
The milestone was reached one day after U.S. President Joe Biden said about 60 million Americans were eligible for booster shots against the coronavirus.
Biden urged eligible Americans to get the boosters and said he would get his own as soon as possible.
In comments Friday from the White House, Biden said, “Like your first and second shot, the booster shot is free and easily accessible.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved the Pfizer boosters for Americans 65 or older; frontline workers such as teachers, health care workers and others whose jobs place them at risk of contracting COVID-19; and those ages 50 to 64 with underlying conditions.
The booster shot will be available for those who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. The White House said Friday that 20 million Americans were eligible for the shot immediately, while a total of 60 million Pfizer-shot recipients would be eligible for boosters once they reached the six-month mark.
The European Union’s drug watchdog said Thursday that it planned to decide in early October whether to approve a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those over age 16.
In related news:
— In the Netherlands on Saturday, hundreds of people protested a new pass required as proof of vaccination. The “corona pass” is required for entry into bars, eating establishments, theaters and other venues.
The introduction of the pass came after the lifting of nearly all social distancing measures in the country, where 72% of the population has received at least one dose.
Hours after the pass requirement was imposed, caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government fired a cabinet minister who had publicly questioned it.
— Travelers arriving in Ireland are no longer subjected to a mandatory two-week quarantine in a hotel. The government ended the requirement Saturday.
Ireland’s health ministry said in a statement the decision was “based on the latest advice received from the chief medical officer.”
The requirement was imposed in late March.
— Two hosts of the popular U.S. ABC-TV daytime show The View were abruptly asked to leave the set Friday during a live broadcast, ahead of a much-anticipated interview with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Show hosts Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro had tested positive for COVID-19.
Joy Behar, another host, said, “No matter how hard we try, these things happen. They probably have a breakthrough case. They’ll be OK, I’m sure, because they are both vaccinated up the wazoo.”
Harris had been scheduled to do an interview on the set with the four hosts, but after the positive tests, the first U.S. female vice president did a remote interview with the show’s remaining two hosts, Behar and Sara Haines. Whoopi Goldberg, also a show host, was not on the set Friday.
— The Guardian reported that schools in England were “struggling” to stay open in the face of student COVID-19 outbreaks.
Some schools have resorted to reinstating restrictions imposed last school year, such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told The Guardian, “We have seen a significant increase in the number of calls to our advice lines from school leaders asking for support and guidance about how best to manage COVID outbreaks.”
— Norway’s government said Friday that it would end all remaining coronavirus restrictions on Saturday.
“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime. … Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.
— In Australia, health officials announced Friday that more than half the population had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
A wave of coronavirus infections has led to lockdowns in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital, Canberra.
— Health officials in South Korea said Saturday that the number of new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24-hour period had passed 3,000. Authorities said they thought a three-day holiday this week might have been the source of the recent surge in cases.
Officials said that although cases were spiking, the mortality rate and the number of severe cases remained relatively low. They attributed that in large part to a vaccination campaign that prioritized older people and those who were at high risk for disease.
— In Singapore, the health ministry announced it was tightening restrictions to fight a wave of coronavirus infections. The new policies included limiting social gatherings to two people, down from five.
The ministry also reported 1,650 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Singapore said 92% of the population had been fully vaccinated. Officials said about 98% of the confirmed coronavirus cases in the past four weeks were in people who had mild or no symptoms.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.