Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, February 25: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

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Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, February 25: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

As we near a full year of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists continue to work on vaccines – both for the virus and the variants that have developed. A vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson offers strong protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19, according to new analysis.

Meanwhile, drug maker Moderna announced on Wednesday that it had developed a new, experimental form of its viral vaccine to combat the variant of the virus in question. And Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been shown in more than half a million people to be very effective at preventing serious illness or death, even after one dose.

We update this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Seattle area, the US and the world. Click here to see the live updates from the past few days and all other coronavirus reports. Here’s how we’re tracking the daily spread in Washington and the world.

Medical lack of oxygen in Africa, Latin America in the midst of the virus

A man sleeps on empty oxygen cylinders, waiting for a store to open in the Villa El Salvador neighborhood of Lima early Thursday, February 18, 2021 to refill his tank.  The lack of medical oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients continues to be the norm in Peru.  (Martin Mejia / The Associated Press)

A man sleeps on empty oxygen cylinders, waiting for a store to open in the Villa El Salvador neighborhood of Lima early Thursday, February 18, 2021 to refill his tank. The lack of medical oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients continues to be the norm in Peru. (Martin Mejia / The Associated Press)

A crisis surrounding the supply of medical oxygen to coronavirus patients has hit countries in Africa and Latin America where warnings went unnoticed at the start of the pandemic and doctors say the shortage has led to unnecessary deaths.

It takes about 12 weeks to install a hospital oxygen system and even less time to convert industrial oxygen production systems into a medical network. But in Brazil and Nigeria, as well as less populous countries, decisions were only made last month to fully address inadequate care after hospitals became overwhelmed and patients began to die.

The gap in the availability of medical oxygen “is, in my opinion, one of the defining health equity issues of our time,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who survived a severe coronavirus infection thanks to the oxygen he received.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

7:15 a.m.

China denies having US diplomats subjected to COVID-19 anal tests

A woman wearing a face mask to help contain the spread of the coronavirus sits near a screen showing China and US flags while listening to a speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Lanting Forum, in Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the US on Monday to lift restrictions on trade and face-to-face contacts while Beijing halts unjustified interference in the areas of China-US relations Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.  (AP Photo / Andy Wong)

A woman wearing a face mask to help contain the spread of the coronavirus sits near a screen showing China and US flags while listening to a speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Lanting Forum, in Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the US on Monday to lift restrictions on trade and face-to-face contacts while Beijing halts unjustified interference in the areas of China-US relations Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)

China on Thursday denied subjecting US diplomats to COVID-19 anal tests after reports from Washington that some of its employees were forced to undergo the procedure.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing, “China has never asked US diplomats in China to do anal swab tests.”

The Washington Post reported last week that some US employees told the department that they had been given anal tests.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

6:59 a.m.

Biden aims to distribute masks to millions

President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in coronavirus-affected communities starting next month to help make the government’s response to the pandemic “fair”.

Biden’s plan will not distribute masks by mail, but through state-qualified health centers and the country’s food bank and pantry, the White House said on Wednesday.

The Departments of Defense, Health, and Human Services and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and child sizes. The White House estimates that they will reach 12 to 15 million people.

“Not all Americans wear masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are created equal,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

6:10 am

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– Kris Higginson

Seattle Times staff and news services