Vaccine-holdout Tanzania starts inoculations with Sinovac shots

In this May 28, 2021 file photo, a healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination session for medical staff who work at private clinics in Caracas, Venezuela. (MATIAS DELACROIX / AP)

LONDON / ADDIS ABABA / ACCRA / BERLIN / LAGOS / GENEVA / TRIPOLI / ATHENS / RIGA / SKOPJE / TUNIS / CARACAS / OTTAWA / QUITO / MONTEVIDEO / WINDHOEK / WASHINGTON / MEXICO CITY / RIO DE JANEIRO / PARIS / PANAMA CITY / MOSCOW / JOHANNESBURG / LISBON / HARARE / NICOSIA / THE HAGUE – Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago begun vaccinations against the coronavirus, leading the way in a nation that downplayed the extent of the pandemic for more than a year.

Health authorities in the Indian Ocean islands started administering Sinovac’s shots to frontline workers last week, Zanzibar’s Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Omar Shajak said, without disclosing the number of doses imported from the Chinese company. They plan to give a second dose after two weeks.

“The Sinovac vaccines were originally meant to be administered to people who wanted to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage,” Shajak said. “After Saudi Arabia prohibited foreign visitors due to the coronavirus outbreak, we decided to give those vaccines to our frontline workers.”

Zanzibar aims to inoculate 1.4 million of its 1.6 million people – including children as young as 10 years – as part of a plan to reboot its tourism-dependent economy. The wider population will get shots once vials procured by Tanzania’s central government through the COVAX vaccine-sharing program arrive, Shajak said.

Tanzania, with approximately 61 million people, halted publishing infection and death rates for more than a year on directives from former President John Magufuli. His successor, Samia Hassan, resumed releasing partial data – 408 cases were reported over the weekend.

With Tanzania now inoculating people, Eritrea and Burundi remain the only African countries yet to start vaccinating against the deadly virus. 

Africa

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 5,961,128 as of Monday afternoon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stands at 151,945 while 5,194,209 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.

AstraZeneca-Oxford

AstraZeneca and scientists from the University of Oxford are looking at whether their COVID-19 vaccine can be modified to prevent rare blood clots, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The scientists are doing early-stage research on whether the shot can be tweaked in any way to reduce or remove the risk of the side effect, though there is no formal program or funding in place for the investigations at this stage, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the research hasn’t been discussed publicly.

A spokesperson for Astra said the company was “actively working with the regulators and scientific community to understand these extremely rare blood-clotting events, including information to drive early diagnosis and intervention, and appropriate treatment.” A spokesman for Oxford didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brazil

Brazil registered 745 COVID-19 deaths on Monday and 17,031 additional cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered a total of 534,233 coronavirus deaths and 19,106,971 total confirmed cases.

Canada

Canada announced on Monday to donate 17.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to low- and middle-income countries in the world.

Canadian Procurement Minister Anita Anand told a press conference that the vaccine doses are a part of the Canadian government's advance purchase agreement with the company and would be distributed through COVAX.

The Canadian government also announced it's partnering with UNICEF on a donation-matching fundraising campaign to encourage Canadians to donate vaccine doses by contributing 10 Canadian dollars (US$8 million).

Cyprus

Cyprus' Deputy Ministry of Tourism started offering subsidized holidays to vaccinated people as a means of encouragement to people to get the COVID-19 jab, according to a statement issued on Tuesday.

At the same time, the Cyprus Employers' Federation urged its members to consider banning employees who refuse to be vaccinated.

From Friday to the end of August, the government will pay 35 percent of the cost of accommodation in hotels and tourist apartments for individuals who present a certificate proving they have received at least one dose of one of the EU-approved vaccines, according to the statement.

Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios said the move was aimed at increasing the ratio of vaccinated people and helping the hotel industry to deal with the situation of reduced tourists from abroad.

Ecuador

Ecuador confirmed the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country, after detecting 10 cases in two coastal provinces, Health Minister Ximena Garzon said on Monday.

"We have been able to identify eight cases in El Oro and two cases in Guayas that are completely under control," the official said at a joint press conference with state authorities.

Samples from these cases were taken in late June and early July, and confirmed through genomic sequencing.

A health worker takes out a set of vials of the Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 29, 2021. (YURI CORTEZ / AFP)

European Medicines Agency (EMA)

The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine have repeatedly failed to provide data that regulators deem to be standard requirements of the drug approval process, according to five people with knowledge of European efforts to assess the drug, providing new insight into the country’s struggle to win foreign acceptance of its product.

Reuters reported last month that the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s review of the drug’s safety and efficacy was delayed because a June 10 deadline to submit data on the vaccine's clinical trials was missed, according to one of those people, who is close to the agency, and another person familiar with the matter. The EMA is the European Union’s medicines watchdog.

The hitches go beyond that one deadline, the person close to the agency said. As of early June, the EMA had received hardly any manufacturing data, and the clinical data the agency had received was incomplete, the person said.

Separately, an assessment of Sputnik V by a French delegation of scientists in advance of the EMA review found that the vaccine developers were unable to document that the so-called master cell bank, the initial building block of the vaccine, complied with specific EU regulation on preventing disease contamination, according to four people with knowledge of the delegation's findings.

The EMA, which launched its formal review of the Russian vaccine in March, had previously been expected to decide in May or June whether to approve use of the drug in the EU.

The person close to the EMA said notable missing clinical information during the EMA review included case report forms that record any adverse effects people experienced after receiving the jab in trials. It is standard practice for developers to submit such forms, this person added. It was also not clear how the scientists working on the vaccine tracked the outcomes of people given a placebo, the person said.

The watchdog rates such data shortcomings on a scale that goes from “critical” – the most serious – to “major” to “minor.” The person said nothing had met the critical threshold, “but there are several ‘majors,’” indicating issues that can be remedied but require much work. The person added they didn’t expect the review to be completed until after the summer.

Several people who have interacted with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V and oversaw the clinical trials, attribute the repeated failure to provide some information to lack of experience in dealing with overseas regulators. "They are not used to working with a regulatory agency like the EMA," the person close to the agency said, referring to Gamaleya’s scientists.

In another development, the EMA said it was analysing data on rare cases of a nerve disorder reported among recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, after the US added a warning label to the shot.

EU

More than half of all adults in the EU are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet. 

The bloc has enough doses to immunize 70 percent of its adult population, she said.

A medical technician administers nasal swabs at a mobile testing site in Paris, Monday, July 12, 2021. (MICHEL EULER / AP)

France

The incidence rate of COVID-19 has increased by 60 percent in the past week, and has reached alarming levels in eight French regions including the Paris area, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Tuesday.  The Delta variant now represents more than 60 percent of new infections, he said.

COVID-19 infections are doubling every five days in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on the same day.

All health workers in France must get COVID-19 jabs and anyone wanting to get into a cinema or board a train will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test under new rules announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

Unveiling sweeping measures to combat a surge in infections, Macron said vaccination would not be compulsory for the general public for now but stressed that restrictions would focus on those who are not vaccinated.

Veran said health workers would not be allowed to go to work and would not be paid if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept 15.

It will also be required to board long-distance trains and planes from the beginning of August, giving a further incentive for people to get the shot as the summer holiday season kicks in.

After the president's announcement, hundreds of thousands of people in France rushed to set up appointments to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

In another development, France added Tunisia, Mozambique, Cuba and Indonesia to its so-called red list, an official said.

The UK remains on the orange list, but non-vaccinated people arriving in the country will have to show a negative test no older than 24 hours. Spain and Portugal remain on the green list, but non-vaccinated travelers will also need to present a test.

People wait to be inoculated against COVID-19 at the Babelsberg vaccination center in Potsdam near Berlin, northeastern Germany, on May 27, 2021. (SOEREN STACHE / AFP)

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday that more people needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before restrictions could be lifted, following news that England will scrap nearly all curbs from next week.

England will lift on July 19 the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to socially distance, in what one German official called "a highly risky experiment".

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 646 to 3,737,135, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by 26 to 91,259, the tally showed.

The number of cases per 100,000 people over seven days rose to 6.4 from 4.9.

"The central question is how many people will seek a vaccination," Merkel said at a news conference. "The more people are vaccinated, the more free we will all be again," she said.

"There will be no compulsory vaccination," she said, adding that forcing people to get the shot could undermine public trust in the vaccination campaign.

Merkel said that the government would seek to avoid another lockdown of the economy in the autumn but said it was important to maintain social distancing and other measures to prevent infections from spreading, even as more people are vaccinated.

Her comments echoed Alena Buyx, the head of the German Ethics Council, who said earlier on Tuesday that restrictions should not be eased as long as not even half the population is fully vaccinated.

Ghana

At least 801 persons have died from COVID-19 in Ghana, the country's health directorate Ghana Health Service (GHS) confirmed on its official website Monday.

According to the GHS, the West African country's total COVID-19 cases have seen an upsurge in recent times. Its active COVID-19 cases as of Monday stood at 2,247 with 148 new cases, while its total confirmed cases stood at 97,585.

ALSO READ: UK to track virus variants with genomic sequencing across world

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 187.25 million while the global death toll topped 4.03 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Greece

Greece will require customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have tested negative within the last three days, the government announced on Tuesday to combat an infection surge.

Under the new regulations, which will remain in force until August, all customers at indoor bars and restaurants will have to be seated. Those dining outdoors will not require proof of vaccination or a test.

Greece has also made vaccinationsmandatory for certain workers and announced restrictions to contain the spread of the virus as infections have kept rising during the vital summer tourism season.

"The country will not shut down again because of some," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address announcing the measures.

Nursing home staff will need to get vaccinated immediately, while healthcare workers will have to be vaccinated starting Sept 1, Mitsotakis said.

As part of the new measures, only vaccinated customers will be allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces, he said.

A country of 11 million people, Greece has so far administered more than 5,200,000 first shots and about 41 percent of the general population is fully vaccinated, according to Marios Themistokleous, secretary-general in charge of vaccinations.

Latvia

The number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Latvia last week fell by 36.3 percent from a week before, the Baltic country's health authorities said on Monday.

The average daily case count fell to 38 last week from 60 the week before, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) said.

The average number of COVID-19 patients in Latvia's hospitals was down to 84 last week from 127 patients the week before.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 incidence in Latvia has been declining across all age groups.

Eight new COVID-19 cases were reported in the capital city of Riga in the past 24 hours.

Latvia has so far confirmed 137,917 COVID-19 cases and the virus has claimed the lives of 2,536 people.

Libya

Libya on Monday recorded 2,679 new COVID-19 cases after 6,780 samples were tested over the past 24 hours, according to a statement by the National Center for Disease Control.

The daily rate of coronavirus infection thus hit 39.5 percent, the highest since the first case was detected in March 2020 in the North African country.

Mexico

Mexico's health ministry on Monday reported 3,074 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 89 more fatalities, bringing total figures to 2,593,574 infections and 235,058 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll could be 60 percent higher than the official count.

Moldova

The United States has sent 500,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to Moldova as part of Washington's coronavirus diplomacy to send  surplus shots overseas to help fight the global pandemic, the US Department of State said on Tuesday.

"I’m pleased to announce the donation of 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Moldova. This delivery furthers the U.S. commitment to defeating the global COVID-19 pandemic and helping Moldova," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a post on Twitter alongside pictures of the shipments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has battered the economy of tiny ex-Soviet republic, which has 3.5 million people and is one of Europe's poorest nations.

The half-million doses were sent on Monday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

People queue to be tested for COVID-19 in Windhoek, Namibia, on June 15, 2021. (DIRK HEINRICH / AP)

Namibia 

Namibia on Monday recorded 28 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the country's cumulative confirmed fatalities to 2,019.

Namibia is experiencing a third wave of coronavirus infections, with the Health Ministry confirming a daily record of 1,284 new cases on Monday.

In a statement, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said the country reaching the 2,000 mark in daily COVID-19 deaths was quite concerning.

Netherlands

New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands have jumped more than six-fold in the past week, mainly among young adults, following a decision to largely scrap restrictions.

Almost 52,000 infections were confirmed in the country of 17.5 million in the week through Tuesday, health authorities said, up from 8,500 a week earlier.

Confirmation of the fastest weekly rise since the start of the pandemic came just days after the government reintroduced curbs on nightclubs, festivals and restaurants in response to a surge in infections among 18 to 30 year olds.

More than 60 percent of new cases in the past week were among people aged 15 to 25. Almost 40 percent of the people who knew where they had been infected said it had happened during a night out.

Around 80 percent of all adults in the Netherlands have now received at least one vaccination, but authorities said this did not mean all precautions could be jettisoned as most people were still only partially protected.

Almost 7,000 new cases in the past week were reported by people who had received at least one vaccination.

Nigeria

A case of Delta variant of COVID-19 has been discovered in southwest Nigeria's Oyo state, several days after the country recorded the first Delta variant case in the capital city Abuja.

A statement from Oyo state government reaching Xinhua on Monday said the Emergency Operations Center of the state has uncovered the Delta variant of the virus in the state, adding the the patient is currently in isolation, without giving further details on the identity of the case.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia kicked off on Monday a nationwide field vaccination against COVID-19, which will allow all citizens who want to get vaccinated to receive the jabs.

According to Health Minister Venko Filipce, field vaccination process is organized in collaboration with local government authorities and local communities.

On Monday, the Health Ministry reported five new coronavirus cases and no virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 155,802, with 150,132 recoveries and 5,487 fatalities.

Panama

Panama’s Health Ministry said on Monday it would allow emergency use of the Pfizer Inc-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 for children aged 12 years and older but gave no details on when it would start.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already authorized for those older than 16.

The ministry said in a statement that authorization of the vaccine for children from 12 to 16 was based on data showing it was effective for that age group as well as for adults.

Since January, Panama has administered 1.7 million doses of vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

The country plans to acquire a total of 9 million doses from those pharmaceutical companies.

So far, the Central American nation has reported 416,232 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 6,646 deaths, according to Health Ministry data.

Portugal

All COVID-19 cases in the Lisbon area and the popular southern Algarve region are of the more contagious Delta variant, data showed on Tuesday, as Portuguese authorities scramble to bring under control a worrying surge in infections.

In a report, National Health Institute Ricardo Jorge said the Delta variant first identified in India represented around 86 percent of cases in Portugal as whole, and 100 percent of cases in Lisbon and tourist magnet Algarve.

Russia

Russia logged 24,702 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 5,833,175, the official monitoring and response center said Tuesday.

The country recorded its highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic with 780 fatalities, pushing the toll to 144,492.

The total number of recoveries increased by 19,566 to 5,236,214.

Meanwhile, Moscow, Russia's worst-hit region, reported 4,991 new cases, taking its total to 1,439,632.

South Africa

South Africa's health department said on Tuesday that violent protests had disrupted the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and essential healthcare services like the collection of chronic medication by tuberculosis, HIV and diabetes patients.

The department said in a statement that it was temporarily closing some vaccination sites, adding that anyone with a inoculation scheduled in an area affected by ongoing unrest was advised to defer their vaccination.

With South Africa recording an average of about 20,000 cases a day and nursing active cases, cumulatively, of more than 10 times that, Africa’s most economically advanced nation has also been its worst hit by the virus, with 64,000 deaths.

A vaccination campaign has been slow, with just 4.2 million doses administered to a population of 60 million. Officials aim to reach a vaccination rate of 300,000 a day by the end of August.

Doctors say they have never had to deal with so many COVID-19 infections all at once. Hospitals in the largest city Johannesburg, where the latest wave started, are full.

ALSO READ: Dutch PM apologizes for easing virus curbs too soon as cases soar

Tunisia

Tunisian Ministry of Health announced on Monday that China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine has been officially approved for marketing in Tunisia.

"The Ministry of Health has granted an exceptional and provisional marketing authorization in the Tunisian market for China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine," said a ministry statement.

"The marketing authorization was granted after the issue was evaluated by the specialized committee in the field of virology, toxicology and the Technical Committee for Pharmaceutical Specialties," it added.

A handout picture provided by the Tunisian Presidency Facebook Page on July 12, 2021 shows Tunisian President Kais Saied receiving a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, in Tunis. (TUNISIAN PRESIDENCY FACEBOOK PAGE / AFP)

Tunisian President Kais Saied received on Monday his first dose of vaccine against COVID-19, announced the presidency in a statement.

"Our country is able to overcome this delicate epidemiological situation thanks to the firm will of all Tunisians," Saied was quoted as saying.

Highlighting the huge pressures facing hospitals and health institutions in Tunisia in dealing with the rapid spread of the virus amid the lack of human and logistical resources, he said the government is committed to "providing vaccines and various necessary medical equipment and supplies."

The health ministry on Monday reported 4,310 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total tally in the North African country to 501,923.

The death toll from the virus rose by 106 to 16,494 in Tunisia, while the total number of recoveries reached 400,378, the ministry said in a statement.

UK

Most COVID-19 restrictions in England will end next week, Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed Monday.

Majority of the restrictions are set to end on July 19 as part of the final step or Step Four of England's roadmap out of the lockdown, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously announced. 

The detailed arrangement of Step Four includes: no more limits on social contact to allow people to gather in groups of any size; removing the "one meter-plus" rule in almost all settings, except for specific places such as airports; no capacity caps on large scale events; people are no longer required to work from home, etc.

It is the right time to go to Step Four, Javid said during his speech in the parliament. "If not now, when? There will never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus."

Despite the easing which will see legal requirement to wear face masks in shops and on public transport being lifted, the government will still recommend the use of face masks in crowded areas, according to Sky News. Scientists have warned that lifting all restrictions at this stage could increase likelihood of dangerous variants.

Britain on Monday reported 34,471 new coronavirus cases and six more deaths, taking the tally to 5,155,243 and the toll to 128,431, according to the latests official figures. It is the sixth day in a row where the daily cases have been more than 30,000.

Meanwhile in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the country was still on track to lift almost all COVID-19 restrictions by Aug 9, but that face coverings would be required for some time after that.

All of Scotland will move to "level zero" restrictions from July 19, but with some modifications to its original plan to ensure a more gradual lifting of the rules, she added.

United States

The United States is reviewing the need for a third COVID-19 booster shot among residents who have already been vaccinated but needs to see more data to know if additional shots could raise people's risk of serious side effects, a US health official said Tuesday.

The official said the second dose for two-shot COVID-19 vaccine regimens was associated with higher rates of side effects, suggesting a third dose could potentially come with even greater risks.

The US government has not made a decision on whether to administer booster shots but sees a greater potential need for them among the elderly and other groups at high risk for severe infection, Jay Butler, deputy director at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

On Monday, US health officials, after meeting with vaccine maker Pfizer, reiterated that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need to get a booster shot, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department said.

This file photo dated March 6, 2021 shows vials of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Denver, the United States. (DAVID SALUBOWSKI / AP)

In another development, the US Food and Drug Administration on Monday added a warning to the fact sheet for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine saying that data suggests there is an increased risk of a rare neurological disorder in the six weeks after inoculation.

In a letter to the company, the FDA classified the chances of getting Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) after vaccination as being "very low." Still, it said J&J vaccine recipients should seek medical attention if they have symptoms including weakness or tingling sensations, difficulty walking or difficulty with facial movements.

Around 12.8 million people have received J&J's one-dose vaccine in the United States. The FDA said 100 preliminary reports of GBS in the vaccine recipients include 95 serious cases that required hospitalization and one reported death.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US soared 47 percent to 136,351 in the week ended Sunday, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg show. The largest weekly rise since April 2020 comes as the highly contagious delta variant spreads in the country amid declining vaccination rates. The death toll for the period ticked up to 1,629.

Uruguay

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou warned the public on Monday "not to claim victory" in the face of improved COVID-19 indicators.

Lacalle Pou asked that everyone be "careful" and "not believe that this (pandemic) has past," because "if we let our guard down, we might concede a goal."

For over four weeks, the South American country has seen improvement in its COVID-19 indicators, with a reduction in infections, active cases, deaths and intensive care unit admissions, after suffering the worst outbreak between April and May of this year.

WHO

Rich countries should not be ordering booster shots for their vaccinated populations while other countries have yet to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said deaths were again rising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant was becoming dominant, and many countries had yet to receive enough vaccine doses to protect their health workers.

"The Delta variant is ripping around the world at a scorching pace, driving a new spike in COVID-19 cases and death," Tedros told a briefing, noting that the highly contagious variant, first detected in India, had now been found in more than 104 countries.

"The global gap in COVID-19 vaccine supply is hugely uneven and inequitable. Some countries and regions are actually ordering millions of booster doses, before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and most vulnerable," said Tedros.

A handout photograph taken and released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 24, 2021, shows the Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivering a speech during the 74th World Health Assembly, at the WHO headquarters, in Geneva. (CHRISTOPHER BLACK / WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION / AFP)

He singled out vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna as companies that were aiming to provide booster shots in countries where there were already high levels of vaccination. Tedros said they should instead direct their doses to COVAX, the vaccine sharing programme mainly for middle-income and poorer countries.

The WHO's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said the global health body had so far not seen evidence showing that booster shots were necessary for those who have received a full course of vaccines. While boosters may be necessary one day, there was no evidence they were needed yet.

"It has to be based on the science and the data, not on individual companies declaring that their vaccines need to be administered as a booster dose," she said.

Venezuela

Almost 3 million people in Venezuela have received their first vaccine dose against COVID-19, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said on Monday.

In a radio interview, the official said that there are currently 2.9 million people who have gotten at least one vaccine dose and over 1.1 million who have received two doses.

Alvarado indicated that work is "constant and accelerated to achieve the goal" of vaccinating 70 percent of the Venezuelan population against COVID-19, or about 22 million people.

Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe hit a new record in COVID-19 cases on Monday, registering 2,661 cases in the past 24 hours as the third wave of the pandemic swept through the country.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the cumulative tally stood at 70,246. All the new cases were spread through local transmission. 

Meanwhile, the country also recorded 51 more deaths, raising the toll to 2,236.

Less than 1 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, against a target of 10 million people by year-end. The government aims to inoculate 60 percent of the population (10 million) people to achieve herd immunity.