France doubles vaccine pledge to 120m

In this file photo taken on Dec 28, 2020, a resident of Debrou nursing home (Ephad) in Joue-les-Tours, near Tours France, receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

HAVANA / LIMA – French President Emmanuel Macron said France will double the number of vaccine doses it donates to poorer countries to 120 million. “The injustice is that in other continents vaccination is far behind because of us, collectively,” Macron said in a message broadcast during the Global Citizen fundraising concert in Paris. 

France will also commit to helping UNICEF and health systems with vaccine distribution, Macron said, noting that only three percent of Africa’s population is vaccinated.

Cuba

Cuba said on Saturday it had exported its three-shot Abdala coronavirus vaccine for the first time, sending an initial shipment to Vietnam as part of a contract to supply five million doses to the Southeast Asian country.

Scientists in the Communist-run island have developed three home-grown vaccines against COVID-19, all of which are waiting to receive official recognition from the World Health Organization.

BioCubaFarma Corporate Vice President Mayda Mauri said once domestic supply goals had been met, Cuba would also start supplying vaccines to countries including Iran and Venezuela

State-run pharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma made Saturday's export announcement on Twitter after saying earlier this week it had produced enough doses to meet a target to immunize more than 90 percent of the local population by mid-November. 

BioCubaFarma says it has the annual capacity to produce 100 million doses of the Abdala, Soberana 2 and Soberana Plus vaccines, which it said recently reduced by about 90 percent the risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the disease.

BioCubaFarma Corporate Vice President Mayda Mauri said once domestic supply goals had been met, Cuba would also start supplying vaccines to countries including Iran and Venezuela.

ALSO READ: Cuba to collaborate with Iran on coronavirus vaccine

"There are very advanced conversations and exchanges on regulatory matters with Argentina and with other countries in various regions of the world," state media quoted Mauri as stating.

Iran is already producing the Soberana-2 vaccine.

Vietnam, Argentina and Mexico have said they hope to produce the Cuban vaccines soon, while a number of countries are using other Cuban drugs in their COVID-19 treatment protocols.

In this June 23, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Cuban Abdala COVID-19 vaccine in Havana, Cuba. (RAMON ESPINOSA / AP)

Mauritius

Mauritius, the tourism-dependent Indian Ocean island nation, will further ease restrictions on movements with priority given to vaccinated people, according to a statement from the Health and Wellness ministry on Friday.

READ MORE: UNCTAD: Global tourism losses seen reaching US$4 trillion

Gyms, sports complexes, bars, casinos and gaming houses will be open to vaccinated staff, public and adults where applicable starting Oct 1. Capacity for religious events, weddings and funeral has been doubled to 100.

Mauritius is set to reopen borders to vaccinated tourists holding a negative PCR test on arrival from Oct 1. Revival of the tourism industry is considered critical to an economic rebound in 2021.

Peru

Three cases of the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Lima, Peru, with one of them a healthcare worker who had already been vaccinated, Deputy Minister of Public Health Gustavo Rosell announced on Saturday.

The official told journalists that the first case was detected on Sept. 3 in the district of Ate and the two others were diagnosed on Sept 11.

ALSO READ: Peru outbreak casts shadow on presidential election

The healthcare worker has experienced mild symptoms and the other two people, who are unvaccinated, have also had mild symptoms.

Rosell said the ministry has put up an epidemiological fence around the places the cases were discovered and that residents in the area over the age of 18 will be vaccinated to prevent the variant from spreading.

The official added that, to date, 721 cases of the Delta variant have been identified in Peru.

To mitigate a possible third wave of COVID-19 in the country, the government is continuing the mass vaccination campaign, through which 24.84 million doses have been administered.  

Russia

Russia confirmed 22,498 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally to 7,420,913, the official monitoring and response center said Sunday.

The nationwide death toll grew by 805 to 203,900, while the number of recoveries increased by 13,671 to 6,604,604.

Meanwhile, Moscow reported 3,275 new cases, taking the city's total caseload to 1,620,990.

According to media reports, more than 41.7 million Russians have been fully vaccinated so far. 

Rwanda

Bars in Rwanda opened for the first time since the pandemic started in March 2020, with social distancing and other virus-control measures still in place, the New York Times reported. 

The nation had one of the strictest lockdowns in Africa, but it has met a World Health Organization goal of vaccinating 10 percent of the population as positive test rates continue to fall. 

South Africa

Officials from South Africa will meet British scientists Monday seeking an explanation for the nation’s continued inclusion on the UK’s COVID-19 travel red list, according to the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times.

While nations such as Kenya, Egypt and Turkey were removed from Britain’s red list this week, South Africa remained on it. 

The UK has cited the presence of the beta variant in South Africa, where it was discovered in late 2020, as the reason. South African scientists say the beta variant has been completely overtaken by the delta variant.