COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Vatican OKs getting Covid-19 vaccines that used cell lines from aborted fetuses
Some groups had suggested the coronavirus vaccines were made using cells from aborted fetuses. The cells are actually engineered and grown in labs from tissue acquired many decades ago, and are not made directly from aborted fetuses.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a note approved by Pope Francis on Monday that receiving the shot was morally permitted.

"It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process," the note said.

The statement was issued and signed by the head of the Congregation in response to several requests for guidelines regarding the use of the vaccine.

... "Given the urgency of this crisis, the lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today is remote, inoculation with the new COVID-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally justified".

The statement adds that receiving the vaccines do not indicate a cooperation with abortion, and that is not to be considered as an endorsement in any way.

"The licit use of such vaccines does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted foetuses".

Taiwan reports first local Covid-19 case in more than 250 days
According to a statement released by the island's health ministry on Tuesday, a woman in her 30s was infected after having contact with a foreign pilot, who also tested positive for the virus, between December 8 and 12.

Taiwan has been coronavirus free since April 12, only recording imported cases. Passengers arriving on the island must go into quarantine and those who test positive are isolated and given treatment. Three such imported cases were also recorded Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases on Taiwan since the pandemic began to 770.

A democratically-ruled island of 23 million off the coast of China, Taiwan has been seen as a global leader for its effective response to the coronavirus.

Taiwanese authorities began screening passengers on direct flights from Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, on December 31, 2019 -- back when the virus was mostly the subject of rumors and limited reporting.

Tennessee is ‘ground zero’ in the nation’s virus surge, and Christmas could make it worse, the governor warns.
As coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths soar to new heights in the United States, Tennessee has become one of the worst-hit states, spurring the governor to warn residents against gathering and traveling for the holidays.

The state is identifying cases at the highest per capita rate in the nation by a wide margin. At least 9,265 new cases and 65 deaths were reported in Tennessee on Monday, according to a New York Times database. Over the last week, there has been an average of 8,953 cases per day, an increase of about 90 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Eight of the nation’s 20 metropolitan areas with the most recent cases per capita are in Tennessee.

“Tennessee is ground zero for a surge in sickness,” Gov. Bill Lee said in an address on Sunday from quarantine, the day after he announced that his wife has tested positive for the virus.

Arguing that Thanksgiving gatherings led quickly to a “record level of sickness,” Gov. Lee urged residents not to gather indoors with anyone outside their household over the upcoming holidays, despite the rollout of vaccines.

“We are in a war,” he said, stressing that the next few weeks would be critical for the state to avoid overwhelming hospitals already reeling from the Thanksgiving spike. “Tennessee cannot sustain a similar surge after Christmas or New Year’s.”

With first positive tests in Antarctica, no continent is untouched by the virus.
Antarctica is no longer the last continent free from the coronavirus after 36 people stationed at a Chilean research base tested positive, local media reported.

The virus was detected in 26 members of the Chilean military and 10 maintenance workers stationed at the Base General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme in the Antarctic Peninsula, the authorities said in a statement to 24 Horas, adding that they were tested after reports that some had developed symptoms.

They were among a group of 60 people who were evacuated from the base to the Chilean city of Punta Arenas over the weekend and have since been isolated, the program reported, and contact tracing was underway. Three cases have also been found in crew members of a Chilean Navy ship returning from the continent, La Prensa Austral reported.