Largest Vaccine Producer Delays Shipments to Some Countries

The world’s largest vaccine producer has told at least three countries that their COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be delayed.The Serum Institute of India has informed Brazil, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia that India’s overwhelming need for the vaccine is the cause of the delay.India is experiencing a surge in infections. The South Asian nation has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases, with 11.6 million. Only the United States and Brazil have more, at 29.7 million and 11.9 million, respectively.India’s Serum Institute has come under criticism for selling or donating more vaccines than inoculations put in arms in India.Meanwhile, Brazil is in talks with the United States to import excess doses of coronavirus vaccines, its Foreign Ministry tweeted Saturday.The South American nation recorded 79,069 new cases of coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period, its Health Ministry said Saturday, and reported more than 2,400 COVID-19 deaths.The talks between the U.S. and Brazil began March 13. On Friday, the U.S. said it was lending 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada and Mexico but did not mention Brazil.The U.S. has millions of doses of vaccine developed by Britain’s University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical giant that have been approved by the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency but not for use in the U.S. yet.Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who famously told his country to “stop whining” about the country’s deaths from “a little flu,” has signed three measures to speed the purchase of vaccines, including those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.Several European countries were under new coronavirus restrictions Saturday to combat new waves of infections.About one-third of France’s population is under lockdown after measures were imposed Friday in Paris and several regions in northern and southern parts of the country. More than 4,300 people are in intensive care units in France, the most this year, the health ministry said Saturday.About 6.1 million people in France have received their first COVID-19 shot, or just less than 12% of the adult population.In Poland, which is seeing the highest number of daily cases since November, new measures have forced nonessential shops and other facilities to close for three weeks.Nonessential stores have also been closed in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, where only food markets are allowed to stay open.France, Germany and Italy resumed use Friday of the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca after health officials sought to allay concerns it may cause blood clots.The European nations resumed inoculations after the EMA, which regulates medicine, said the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine was “safe and effective” and the WHO, the United Nations body responsible for public health, said “available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions” among those who have been vaccinated.However, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the country’s health advisory body is recommending AstraZeneca vaccinations only for people 55 or older.French officials cited an assessment by the EMA that it could not rule out a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a small number of blood clots, particularly in younger women. The EMA said that overall, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects.The WHO repeated its recommendation Friday for countries worldwide to continue to administer shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The agency’s expert committee on coronavirus vaccines said the AstraZeneca vaccine has “tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths” and said “it is not certain” the blood clot cases have been caused by the vaccine.Officials in Miami Beach in the southern U.S. state of Florida have imposed an emergency curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was not immediately clear how long the lockdown would be in place.“Officials blamed overwhelming and out-of-control spring break crowds for the curfew, which was taking effect Saturday night in South Beach, one of the nation’s top party spots,” the Associated Press reported.Global spectators will be barred from entering Japan for the summer Olympic games because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee said Saturday.The committee said tickets bought by overseas residents would be refunded.The pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympic games last year, but organizers have said they are committed to hosting the games this year, despite warnings.


       SJ

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