The African Union has announced that Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines assembled in South Africa will no longer be exported to Europe and will instead be distributed among African countries.
In addition, millions of J&J vaccines already shipped to Europe, but currently stored in warehouses, will be returned to South Africa, African Union COVID-19 envoy Strive Masiyiwa said Thursday.
The deal between J&J and Aspen Pharmacare, the South African facility manufacturing the J&J vaccines that were sent to Europe, had received harsh criticism as less than three percent of the population of the African continent has been inoculated, compared to richer regions of the world that have begun or will soon begin booster shot campaigns.
The World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic cannot be brought under control unless all the world’s regions are equitably vaccinated.
A health care worker receives the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus disease vaccination at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, South Africa on Feb. 17, 2021. /Reuters
Meanwhile, WHO has listed a new coronavirus strain as a “variant of interest.” The Mu variant is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the COVID cases in Colombia where it was first identified.
Greek health care workers demonstrated Thursday against a COVID mandate that went into effect Wednesday. Under the new regulation, workers will be suspended without pay if they have not been inoculated or recovered from the coronavirus in the last six months.
Musicals are back on Broadway, after an absence of more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Tony Award-winning Hadestown, a modern interpretation of the ancient Greek legend of lovers Orpheus and Eurydice, opened Thursday. Also, the musical Waitress began a limited run Thursday, starring singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. Hamilton, The Lion King, and Wicked return to Broadway theaters on Sept. 14.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has recorded 219 million COVID infections and 4.5 million coronavirus deaths. The center said early Friday that 5.3 billion vaccines have been administered.
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