In boost for Africa, Senegal ‘aims to make vaccines next year’

A man gets a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 at Ngor Clinic in Dakar, Senegal on April 2, 2021. (JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

MOSCOW / GABORONE / ADDIS ABABA / LUSAKA / LONDON / RABAT / QUITO / HAVANA / TRIPOLI / RIO DE JANEIRO / OTTAWA / SANTIAGO / BOGOTA / BUENOS AIRES – Senegal could begin producing COVID-19 vaccines next year under an agreement with Belgian biotech group Univercells aimed at boosting Africa's drug-manufacturing ambitions, a source involved in funding the project told Reuters.

As wealthy countries begin to reopen after securing vaccine supplies early, African nations are still struggling to acquire shots. On a continent of 1.3 billion, only about 7 million have been fully vaccinated.

The collaboration highlights the opportunities created by a global push to channel money and technology towards production on a continent that makes only 1 percent of the vaccines it requires.

Univercells announced the signing of a letter of intent for collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Senegal's capital Dakar in April. The source shared details of the proposal, which were not made public.

Under the agreement, the Institut Pasteur would use vaccine production technology developed by Univercells to supply COVID-19 vaccine shots to countries across West Africa.

United States

The US passed the milestone of administering more than 300 million vaccine doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Saturday.

The pace of vaccination has slowed to the lowest level since January. President Joe Biden has set a goal to administer at least one dose to 70 percent of adults by July 4. That number is now 63.4 percent, according to the CDC.

Libya

Ahmad al-Garari, COVID-19 vaccination cooperator at the Libyan National Center for Disease Control, said on Saturday that more than 250,000 people have received vaccines against COVID-19 so far in Libya.

"Nearly all medical staff treating COVID-19 patients have been vaccinated. Also, the elderly are now being vaccinated," he said.

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 172.99 million while the global death toll topped 3.72 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Africa

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 4,901,043 as of Saturday afternoon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stands at 131,971 while 4,429,209 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.

Brazil

Brazil’s death toll declined for the seventh time in eight weeks to 11,474, about half the level of a peak reached two months ago, according to Health Ministry data. With more than 470,000 deaths since the pandemic, Brazil has the second-highest toll after the US.

Weekly new cases rose slightly to about 436,000, compared with a peak of almost 540,000 in March. Another 66,017 cases were reported on Saturday, for a total 16.9 million.

Russia

Russia registered 9,145 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 5,117,274, the official monitoring and response center said Saturday.

The national COVID-19 death toll rose by 399 to 123,436 in the past day, while the number of the country's recoveries grew by 8,565 to 4,729,077.

Botswana

Botswana's president Mokgweetsi Masisi on Friday said the country's teachers and other frontliners will be vaccinated as a priority.

In his address during the commemoration of the National Teachers' Day held virtually, Masisi said he recognizes the enormous pressure that teachers in Botswana are operating under during this unprecedented and uncertain period of COVID-19.

Due to limited internet connectivity in many schools across the country, Masisi said teachers are in enormous pressure since they are expected to provide face-to-face teaching and monitor learners to ensure that they follow the COVID-19 health protocols.

With a view aimed at mitigating the threat posed by COVID-19, measures were undertaken to reduce class sizes, engage temporary teachers and employing Safety Health and Environment officers in all public schools, he said.

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Zambia

Zambia recorded 1,164 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, a senior government official said on Saturday.

The cases were picked from 10,678 tests done during the period, bringing the cumulative cases to 99,540. Six people died during the period, bringing the total deaths to 1,303.

Morocco

Morocco's COVID-19 tally rose to 521,195 on Saturday as 426 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Health, the death toll rose to 9,173 with four fatalities during the last 24 hours, while 210 people are in intensive care units.

Ecuador

Ecuador reported on Saturday 690 new COVID-19 infections and 14 more deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the accumulated figures to 431,429 cases and 15,268 deaths, the Ministry of Public Health said.

Another 5,505 deaths are considered to be COVID-19 related, but not verified, according to the ministry.

Cuba

Cuba reported 11 deaths and 1,135 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 1,003 and total cases to 147,831, the Ministry of Public Health said.

Havana reported 440 cases in its 15 municipalities and an incidence rate of 356.2 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest in the country.

The ministry, which has been carrying out a vaccination campaign in seven of Havana's municipalities, announced that starting on June 14, it will extend immunization to all of the capital.

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Canada

Canada reported 1,672 new cases of COVID-19 in the past day, bringing the cumulative total to 1,391,174, including 25,712 deaths, as of Saturday evening, according to CTV.

The country's national-level data showed a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 2,339 cases reported daily between May 28 and June 3, down 31 percent compared to the previous week, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada on Saturday.

Chile

Chile registered 8,867 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the second highest number of daily cases on record, bringing the national tally to 1,420,266, the Ministry of Health (Minsal) reported.

Meanwhile, another 120 deaths from the disease were reported, bringing the national death toll to 29,816, according to the Minsal.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson receives his second jab of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, at the Francis Crick Institute in London on June 3, 2021. (MATT DUNHAM / POOL / AP)

Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday called for leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations to make a commitment to vaccinate the entire world against COVID-19 by the end of 2022 when they meet in Britain next week.

Johnson will host the first in-person summit in almost two years of G7 leaders – which follows a meeting of the group's finance ministers which wrapped up earlier in the day – and said he would seek a pledge to hit the global vaccination goal. 

While the richest nations have been vaccinating large numbers of their populations, many poorer countries have not had the same access to vaccines. And health experts have warned that unless more COVID-19 shots were donated, the virus will continue to spread and mutate.

The UK is set to donate more than 100 million COVID-19 jabs to developing countries, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pledge a donation of more than 2 billion pounds (US$2.8 billion) of shots at a summit of leaders of the Group of Seven nations starting Friday – and promise more next year, it said.

Coronavirus vaccines could be rolled out to children in the UK from as early as August, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the plan.

Under current modeling, the UK would be ready to start vaccinating 12-to 15-year-olds by the second half of August, or early September at the latest, a government source told the paper. Ministers are awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation before making a final decision, it said.

Italy

Italy reported 57 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 73 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections decreased to 2,436 from 2,557.

Italy has registered 126,472 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eight-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.23 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 5,193 on Saturday, down from 5,488 a day earlier.

Venezuela

Venezuela has reached a deal to purchase doses of Russia's EpiVacCorona vaccine, as well as manufacture the inoculation locally, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said late on Friday.

Venezuela launched a mass inoculation campaign earlier this week, though the government has not provided details on how many people have received shots in the crisis-stricken OPEC nation, which is lagging behind other South American countries in vaccinating its population.

Rodriguez did not detail how many doses of EpiVacCorona Russia would send, nor when local manufacturing would begin. Venezuela's information ministry did not respond to a request for comment with questions about the deal. Russia's embassy in Caracas confirmed the deal in a tweet.

Earlier this year Russia sent Venezuela a thousand doses of EpiVacCorona to be used in trials.

Colombia

Colombia reported 532 more deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 91,422, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection said Saturday.

Meanwhile, 28,971 new infections were reported, bringing the national caseload to 3,547,017, the ministry said.

Argentina

Argentina reported 23,627 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 3,939,024, the Ministry of Health said Saturday.

Meanwhile, 456 more deaths were logged, raising the national death toll to 80,867, the ministry said.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia registered 173 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 272,805 as of Saturday evening, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

The ministry said eight new deaths and 998 more recoveries were reported, bringing the respective total to 4,201 and 245,648.

Ethiopia currently has 22,954 active cases, of whom 349 are said to be under severe health conditions, according to the ministry.

Germany

Germany reported 2,249 cases on Sunday, down from 2,993 the day before. The total number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic exceeds 3.7 million. The number of COVID-19-related deaths reached 89,228