AP finds racial disparity in US vaccination drive; Using influence for favoritism? US hospital boards, donors get shots; Israel to give some vaccines to Palestinians

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported this morning: 441,324.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States have surpassed 26 million.

A clear racial gap has opened up in America’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, with Black Americans in many places lagging behind whites in receiving shots, according to an AP analysis

An early look at the 17 states and two cities that have released racial breakdowns finds that Black people are getting inoculated at levels below their share of the general population, Carla K. Johnson, Angeliki Kastanis and Kat Stafford report.

Among the reasons given: deep mistrust of the medical establishment among Black Americans because of a history of discriminatory treatment.

The disparity is deeply troubling to some, given that the coronavirus has taken a disproportionate toll in severe sickness and death on Black people in the U.S.

Immunizing Tuskegee: The immunization campaign is off to a shaky start in Tuskegee, Alabama. Area leaders point to a lingering distrust of medicine that is linked to a 40-year government study here that used unknowing Black men as guinea pigs to study syphilis. Several people in the mostly Black city are trying to set an example by getting vaccinated, including Black Tuskegee attorney Fred Gray, who once filed a lawsuit on behalf of the men affected by the syphilis study that resulted in a $9 million settlement. The now-90-year-old Gray stresses that the syphilis study and the COVID-19 vaccine are completely different, Jay Reeves reports.

Preferential Treatment: Some hospitals around the U.S. are facing complaints about favoritism and line-jumping after their board members and donors received COVID-19 vaccinations or offers for the prized inoculations. In Rhode Island, an inquiry was opened after reports that two hospital systems offered their board members vaccinations. A Seattle-area hospital system was rebuked by the governor after it offered vaccination appointments to major donors.

Hospitals in Kansas, Florida and New Jersey also are facing questions. The disclosures could threaten public confidence in a national rollout already marked by vaccine shortages, appointment logjams and inconsistent standards from state to state, Russ Bynum, Michelle R. Smith and Rachel la Corte report.

Israel-Palestinians Vaccine: Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office says Israel has agreed to transfer 5,000 vaccine doses to the Palestinians to immunize front-line medical workers. It’s the first time that Israel has confirmed the transfer of vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel is one of the world’s leaders in vaccinating its population after striking procurement deals with international drug giants Pfizer and Moderna, Josef Federman reports from Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have not begun to vaccinate their people. The World Health Organization has raised concerns about the disparity between Israel and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and international human rights groups and U.N. experts have said Israel is responsible for the wellbeing of Palestinians in these areas.

In the meantime, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis thronged a pair of funerals for two prominent rabbis in Jerusalem, flouting the country’s ban on large public gatherings during the pandemic. The phenomenon has undermined the country’s aggressive vaccination campaign to bring a raging outbreak under control and threatens to damage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the March election.

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Coronavirus Cases:

103,594,874

Deaths:

2,239,275

Recovered:

75,216
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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February 1 (GMT)

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