COVID-19 Vaccine Stand-Off Between Chicago Mayor, Police Hits Courts

(FILE) The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is prepared for administration at a vaccination clinic. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

A Chicago judge on Friday banned a police union president from making public statements on the city’s Covid-19 policy as a stand-off over vaccine mandates sparked dueling lawsuits.

The dispute between mayor Lori Lightfoot and police union head John Catanzara has made the city the latest flashpoint in a deeply polarized debate over vaccines and whether governments have the right to mandate them.

Lightfoot sought and received an injunction against Catanzara Friday when the judge issued a 10-day restraining order that bans him from making statements that encourage members not to report their vaccination status.

The police union filed its own lawsuit Friday against Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown that seeks to force arbitration over the matter.

READ ALSO: NEC Proposes Psychiatric Evaluation, Drug Tests For Police, Army Before Enlistment

Like all city employees, Chicago police officers have been mandated to report their vaccine status to an online portal by midnight Friday. Those not vaccinated will be subject to twice-weekly testing.

Those who refuse to disclose their status have a few days’ grace to explain themselves — but face being placed on unpaid leave and eventually fired.

In two videos released this week, Catanzara urged police officers to ignore the order and risk loss of pay.

On Tuesday, he predicted that if a large number of officers refused to be tested or report their vaccinations, Chicago would have a “police force at 50 percent or less for this weekend.”

Lightfoot responded by saying: “I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders.”

She also said Catanzara was “encouraging a work stoppage or strike.”

Both state law and the union contract prohibits Chicago police from striking.

The union responded with a tweet Friday saying: “President John Catanzara has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage.”

Since issuing the mandate, Lightfoot’s approach has softened. Backing down from a rule that mandated vaccination for city employees, she has since agreed to give the unvaccinated an alternative: twice-weekly tests for the rest of the year.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 228 US police officers have died from Covid-19 so far this year, making it by far the leading cause of death in the line of duty among the 356 fatalities recorded.

The Chicago stand-off comes as the city once again leads the United States in murders, with 639 homicides this year through October 13 — up 55 percent from two years ago.

With shootings also up 68 percent over the period and carjackings heading for a record, the threat of losing much of the police force, even temporarily, has caused a deep sense of unease.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told a conservative radio host that he would consider calling up the National Guard.

“We’ve offered every resource, every public safety resource that’s available to the state to offer municipalities to the city of Chicago, so if the city calls us, we’ll respond,” Pritzker said.

AFP

FG Sets December 1st Deadline For Civil Servants To Take COVID-19 Vaccine

In this photo taken on August 16, 2021, a health official holds a vaccine tube and a syringe as Nigeria commences the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.
In this photo taken on August 16, 2021, a health official holds a vaccine tube and a syringe as Nigeria commences the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal Government has set a deadline of December 1 for civil servants to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, announced this at a briefing on Wednesday in Abuja.

“With effect from 1st December 2021, Federal Government employees shall be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours to gain access to their offices in all locations within Nigeria and our Missions.

“An appropriate service-wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process,” the SGF said.

He also revealed that the government has removed South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey from the list of countries where travellers have been restricted from coming into Nigeria as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mustapha explained that the government took the decision to lift the ban following an emergency meeting held before the briefing.

He also commended the United Kingdom for reviewing its travel protocols which allowed fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to enter the country without having to self-isolate after their arrival.

“Over several months, four countries were placed on high-level restriction for travellers from such countries,” the SGF said. “The PSC has after a review of the developments in these countries, decided to remove South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the restricted list.

“As you are aware, the UK has eased restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to the UK with effect from 11th October. Nigeria welcomes this development and assures that the PSC shall continue to review Nigeria’s protocols based on global developments, science, and national experience. A revised protocol will be issued in the next 24 hours.”

He alerted Nigerians on the forthcoming two major religious festivities – Salah and Christmas, noting that there would be increased passenger traffic in and out of the country Similarly and possibly events of large gatherings.

Mustapha, who said the PSC would escalate surveillance and other control activities, urged the states and all Nigerians to increase their vigilance.

Read the full text of his briefing below:

REMARKS OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PRESIDENTIAL STEERING COMMITTEE ON COVID -19 AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING ON WEDNESDAY 13TH OCTOBER, 2021

I welcome you to the National briefing of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 for the 13th October 2021. Today’s briefing, coming after an emergency meeting, will update Nigerians on some key developments.

2. The briefing today will therefore be focusing on updates from the NCDC, Countries on the restriction list, our relationship with the UAE on Emirates and the vaccines mandate.

3. Statistics generated over the last four weeks on testing have shown that the trend of infection is going down in some states while in others, the trajectory is upward. The combined total for testing by PCR and RDT now stands at about 3.141, 795 million persons.

4. The aviation authorities in collaboration with the diplomatic sector have made reasonable progress in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Discussions are still ongoing with the UAE authorities to resolve the impasse.

The Hon Minister of Aviation today, presented the position of African countries on Vaccine Passport which some economic blocks and countries wish to impose, for travel purposes. This is because African countries have found it difficult to access the vaccines for their citizens in sufficient numbers.

5. Over several months, four countries were placed on high-level restrictions for travellers from such countries. The PSC has after a review of the developments in these countries, decided to remove South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the restricted list.

6. As you are aware, the UK has eased restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to the UK with effect from 11th October. Nigeria welcomes this development and assures that the PSC shall continue to review Nigeria’s protocols based on global developments, science and national experience. A revised protocol will be issued in the next 24 hours.

7. With effect from 1st December 2021, Federal Government employees shall be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices, in all locations within Nigeria and our Missions. An appropriate service-wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process.

8. The PSC wishes to put Nigerians on notice that two major religious festivities (Salah and Christmas) are approaching and we shall be experiencing increased passenger traffic in and out of the country. Similarly, events of large gatherings are likely to hold. While the PSC prepares to escalate surveillance and other control activities, we urge the States and all Nigerians to also increase their vigilance and take measures to moderate activities.

9. I thank you for your patience. The PSC shall be elaborating on all these at our next regular briefing.

Nigeria Missing From UK’s Valid COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate List

In this photo taken on August 16, 2021, a health official holds a vaccine tube and a syringe as Nigeria commences the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.
In this photo taken on August 16, 2021, a health official holds a vaccine tube and a syringe as Nigeria commences the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The United Kingdom has omitted Nigeria from its list of countries with valid COVID-19 vaccine certificates.

This means fully vaccinated Nigerians travelling to the UK may still be required to isolate for 10 days on arrival in the country.

Nigeria was missing from the list despite not being on the UK’s COVID-19 red list.

No other African country was on the list.

The UK, in a statement on Monday, said it was taking “a phased approach to recognising vaccines administered by other countries and territories, building on the success of the pilot with the U.S. and Europe.

READ ALSO: New Zealand Drops ‘COVID Zero’ Goal After Delta Outbreak

“Fully vaccinated residents in other countries not yet part of the inbound policy, as well as those partially vaccinated, will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests for day 2 and day 8 after arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after 5 days.

“The UK government is continuing to work with international partners as we seek to more regularly expand the policy to further countries and territories.”

Last month, the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong said the UK’s stance could increase vaccine hesitancy across Africa.

“We do not understand why the UK has taken this position,” he said, adding that it was “a message that creates confusion within our population… creating more reticence, reluctance for people to receive vaccines.”

“This message doesn’t really speak to solidarity and co-operation that we all believe are the cornerstone and ingredients for us to emerge from this pandemic together.”

Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has said the UK strongly supports the work of the Nigerian health authorities and the nation’s vaccination campaign.

YouTube Cracks Down On Anti-COVID Vaccine Videos

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2019 shows the logo of the US Youtube logo application on the screen of a tablet. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

 

YouTube said Wednesday it would remove videos that falsely claim approved vaccines are dangerous, as social networks seek to crack down on health misinformation around COVID-19 and other diseases.

Video-sharing giant YouTube has already banned posts that spread false myths around coronavirus treatments, including ones that share inaccurate claims about Covid-19 vaccines shown to be safe.

But the Google-owned site said its concerns about the spread of medical conspiracy theories went beyond the pandemic.

“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general,” the Google-owned website said in a statement.

“We’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines.”

READ ALSO: Russia Vows Retaliation After YouTube Blocks German RT Accounts

In this file photo taken on June 28, 2013 a webcam is positioned in front of YouTube’s logo in Paris. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP).

 

The expanded policy will apply to “currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO (World Health Organization).”

It will see false claims about routine immunizations for diseases like measles and Hepatitis B removed from YouTube.

These would include cases where vloggers have claimed that approved vaccines do not work, or wrongly linked them to chronic health effects.

Content that “falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them” will also be taken down.

“As with any significant update, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up enforcement,” YouTube added.

It stressed there would be exceptions to the new guidelines, with personal testimonials of negative experiences with vaccines still allowed, so long as “the channel doesn’t show a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy.”

YouTube said it had removed more than 130,000 videos since last year for violating its Covid-19 vaccine policies.

On Tuesday, the company told German media that it had blocked the German-language channels of Russia’s state broadcaster RT for violating its Covid misinformation guidelines.

YouTube said it had issued a warning to RT before shutting the two channels down, but the move has prompted a threat from Moscow to block the video site.

It is not the only social media giant grappling with how to deal with the spread of Covid-19 conspiracy theories and medical misinformation in general.

Facebook this month launched a renewed effort to tackle extremist and conspiracy groups, beginning by taking down a German network spreading Covid misinformation.

Amnesty International Demands Two Billion COVID-19 Jabs For ‘Poorer World’

A file photo showing a Nigerian taking the COVID-19 jab.

 

 

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are putting profit before lives, Amnesty International said on Wednesday, as it demanded two billion doses for poorer nations by the end of the year.

The human rights group said in a new report that US President Joe Biden was expected to outline a pledge at the UN General Assembly to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the world’s population by next September.

“We need leaders like President Biden to put billions of doses on the table and deliver the goods, otherwise this is just another empty gesture and lives will continue to be lost,” Amnesty chief Agnes Callamard said.

The group said AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer had all refused to share doses or technology to enable more of the world to get Covid jabs.

Most people in the rich world have been inoculated, but parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia have plunged into renewed crises with “tens of thousands of preventable deaths every week”, Amnesty said.

Out of 5.76 billion doses administered worldwide, only 0.3 percent have gone to low-income countries with over 79 percent heading to upper-middle and high-income countries, it said.

In letters sent to Amnesty, all the companies pledged their support for human rights, but the report said their actions violated that commitment.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were selling their doses at cost price, it noted.

But all of the six companies had fought a bid by India and South Africa to waive vaccine-related intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organization, despite receiving hefty government support themselves.

Amnesty launched a new campaign which it said was backed by the World Health Organization and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “to hold states and big pharma to account”.

With 100 days to go till the end of the year, it said the WHO’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population of low and lower-middle income countries was at risk.

It demanded richer countries redistribute “the hundreds of millions of excess doses currently sitting idle” and for vaccine developers to ensure that at least half of doses produced go to poorer countries.

“We’re calling on states and pharmaceutical companies to drastically change course and to do everything needed to deliver two billion vaccines to low and lower-middle income countries starting now,” Callamard said.

“Profits should never come before lives,” she said. “No one should spend another year suffering and living in fear.”

White House Offers Nicki Minaj Phone Call After Viral Vaccine Claims

 

Nicki Minaj arrives for the 2018 Met Gala on May 7, 2018, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. – The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute. The Gala’s 2018 theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

 

The White House has offered to arrange a phone call between Nicki Minaj and one of its doctors, multiple US outlets reported after the rapper sparked widespread derision over claims a cousin’s friend had become impotent after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Minaj on Wednesday claimed she had been invited to the White House in the wake of her viral tweets about an unnamed acquaintance in her native Trinidad and Tobago — an invitation she said she accepted.

But a White House official told multiple US outlets that Minaj had only been offered an educational phone call.

“As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” the official said.

The Grammy-nominated rapper sparked a media storm Monday when she said she had skipped New York’s star-studded Met Gala this week due to its requirement that attendees be vaccinated, saying she would only get the jab once she had “done enough research”.

She said a friend of a cousin in Trinidad had experienced swollen testicles after getting the vaccine — claims that sparked a formal rebuttal from the Caribbean nation’s health minister.

“One of the reasons why we could not respond yesterday in real-time to Miss Minaj is that we had to check and make sure that what she was claiming was either true or false,” Terrence Deyalsingh told a press conference.

“Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim.”

British and US health officials have also condemned the claims.

Experts say there is no evidence that vaccines affect fertility or male genitalia.

Nigeria Kicks Off Phase Two Of Covid Vaccination

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, and others watch as a man takes the COVID-19 vaccine on August 16, 2021. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal Government on Monday commenced the administration of new vaccines marking the start of the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The second phase of the vaccination programme was breathed into life after the US donated over four million doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Only about one percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, so far.

The flag off ceremony, held at the Federal Medical Centre in Abuja, was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha

Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), Boss Mustapha, and others pose for a photo in Abuja on August 16, 2021. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

READ ALSO: Fiji Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines For Civil Servants

Also Present were the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu and the Medical Director of the FMC, Professor Aliyu Ahmed.

The exercise had earlier been scheduled for August 10 but was postponed.

Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said the postponement was due to “purely administrative” reasons.

In this photo taken on August 16, 2021, a health official holds a vaccine tube and a syringe as Nigeria commences the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Apart from the over four million Moderna doses, the government has also taken delivery of 177,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

The single-shot J&J vaccine was acquired through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), with support from Afrexim bank.

The J&J vaccines are expected to be deployed in hard-to-reach areas, to eliminate the need for travel for a second dose.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, and others at the launch of the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination on August 16, 2021. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

More of the J&J vaccines are expected in the country soon.

According to Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria has procured nearly 40 million doses of the J&J vaccines through AVAT.

See more photos from the event below:

Health Authorities Urge Pregnant Women To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

A health worker prepares a dose of Sputnik-V vaccine against Covid-19, at the Higher University of San Andrés (UMSA), in La Paz, on August 11, 2021. (Photo by JORGE BERNAL / AFP)

 

 

US health authorities urged pregnant women on Wednesday to get inoculated against COVID-19, arguing that the data demonstrates they do not increase the risk of miscarriage.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency “encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19.”

“The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from Covid-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,” Walensky said.

According to a recent study, only one in four pregnant women has received at least a first dose of a Covid vaccine.

The CDC said an analysis of current data had found there was not an increased risk of miscarriage among nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine — the type of shots made by Pfizer and Moderna in the United States — before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It said miscarriage rates among women who received a Covid-19 vaccine were around 13 percent, about the same as the typical miscarriage rate of 11-16 percent of pregnancies.

“The benefits of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine for pregnant people outweigh any known or potential risks,” the CDC said.

“The increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to Covid-19 infection among pregnant people make vaccination for this population more urgent than ever,” it added.

Nigeria To Receive Over 176,000 J&J COVID-19 Vaccines On Wednesday

A health worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose to inoculate a woman. Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP (File Photo)

 

Nigeria is expected to receive 176,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday.

Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, confirmed this at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said the J&J vaccine, like the AstraZeneca, is safe and efficient against the coronavirus disease, including the deadlier Delta variant.

The J&J vaccine is a single-shot vaccine.

It is expected to boost Nigeria’s COVID-19 fight with the Delta variant sparking fears of a third wave of the pandemic.

Dr. Shuaib had recently announced that the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme would commence soon.

The exercise had earlier been scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but it was postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances,” according to a spokesperson in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey.

The need for the rollout of the second batch of the vaccines has, however, become crucial as Nigeria gradually returns to seeing a spike in infections.

As of Monday, 422 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the country, with five more deaths.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the infections were recorded in nine states. Lagos maintained the lead with 190 cases, followed by Rivers (86) and Ogun (85).

Others are Oyo (22), FCT (20), Kwara (7), Edo (5), Abia (4), and Bayelsa (3)

So far, a total of 178,508 cases have been confirmed, 165,983 patients have recovered and 2,192 deaths have been recorded in 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.

More than 200 million cases of the pandemic have been confirmed globally, with the death toll reaching four million.

Microsoft Mandates Vaccinations For Workers

In this file photo taken on February 06, 2021 a health worker administers a vaccine dose at a drive through vaccination center at the Sambodrome Rio Carnival venue, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Microsoft on Thursday joined the ranks of tech companies requiring returning workers to be vaccinated, as Amazon delayed its plan to reopen offices until next year.

The earliest date for fully reopening Microsoft’s US facilities will be October 4, according to the computing giant based near Amazon in the state of Washington.

“Starting in September, we’ll also require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and any guests entering Microsoft buildings in the United States,” Microsoft said in response to an AFP inquiry.

READ ALSO: [COVID-19] China To Test ‘All Residents’ In Wuhan As Cases Soar

In this file photo Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the audience during a keynote session at the Amazon Re:MARS conference on robotics and artificial intelligence at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 6, 2019. Mark RALSTON / AFP
In this file photo Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the audience during a keynote session at the Amazon Re:MARS conference on robotics and artificial intelligence at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 6, 2019. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Microsoft and other tech firms said they are closely tracking the pandemic and adapting plans as the situation evolves, keeping employee health as a top priority.

E-commerce colossus Amazon confirmed that it is delaying return of employees to its corporate offices until January of next year instead of having them come back in September as originally hoped.

“We require employees to wear masks in our offices, with the exception of those who have verified full vaccination,” Amazon told AFP.

Google and Facebook last week said workers returning to offices will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, in the latest move by firms and US government agencies.

Spikes in infections due to a Delta variant of the virus have ramped up concerns in the United States, where more than 600,000 people have died in the pandemic.

Google last week made campuses off-limits to unvaccinated employees and extend its global work-from-home option through October 18.

“Anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.

Google and Facebook were among companies worldwide that abandoned campuses early last year, letting people work remotely rather than risk exposure to Covid-19 in offices.

“We will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,” Facebook vice president of people Lori Goler said in response to an AFP inquiry.

“We will have a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves.”

Many unions and critics of mandates have spoken out against required vaccinations, citing personal freedom arguments.

Microsoft said that employees who are not vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons will be accommodated.

Rising pandemic concerns are also slowing the return to offices in the financial sector, with investment management giant Black Rock telling US workers it extended its “re-acclimating period” a month to the start of October.

Wells Fargo and US Bank have also delayed having employees return to offices, according to a CNN report.

AFP

WHO Urges COVID-19 Vaccine Makers To Keep Prices Down

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 28, 2021 a healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Chinese-made Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, at makeshift tents in Tirana’s main square.  (Photo by Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

 

 

The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to keep their prices low and affordable, after reports that two producers will raise the cost they are charging the EU.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are upping the prices for their messenger RNA vaccines because they have adapted them to the new virus variants, according to reports.

The Pfizer vaccine will jump from 15.5 euros to 19.5 euros ($18.35 to $23) and Moderna from 19 euros to 21.5 euros ($22.5 to $25.45), British newspaper the Financial Times revealed Sunday, citing the contract concluded with the European Union.

Mariangela Simao, the WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, told a press conference on Wednesday: “It’s very important that we have companies state policies of affordable prices.”

She said both Pfizer and Moderna had increased their manufacturing capacities, diversified their plants and increased production line efficiency.

“In a normal market situation, this would lead to a decreased price, not an increasing price.

“We have a market where the demand is very high in comparison with production.

“WHO urges companies to keep prices down and affordable prices.”

Half of the EU population has now been fully vaccinated, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

4 Billion Anti-Coronavirus Shots Injected Worldwide

In this file photo Moderna vaccines are seen kept on the table at a Covid-19 vaccine at Florida Memorial University Vaccination Site in Miami Gardens, Florida on April 14, 2021. – (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

 

 

 

More than 4 billion doses of anti-Covid vaccines have been administered around the world, eight months after the vaccination drive started, according to an AFP count Thursday.

Global injections have slowed slightly: this fourth billion was reached in 30 days, while it took only 26 days to reach the previous one. The first and second billion were reached after about 140 and 40 days respectively.

Forty of the four billion shots have been administered in China (1.6 billion). India (451 million) and the United States (343 million) make up the trio of countries that have administered the most jabs.

In terms of population among countries with more than one million people, the United Arab Emirates is the leader: 168 first and second doses administered per 100 inhabitants. Uruguay follows (137), then Bahrain (134).

The UAE is close to having 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated while Uruguay and Bahrain have both reached more than 60 percent.

After this the leading countries are Qatar, Chile and Canada (129 shots per 100 inhabitants), Israel (128), Singapore (125), the United Kingdom, Mongolia and Denmark (124) and Belgium (121).

These countries have all fully vaccinated more than half their populations.

Not far off this are China (111), the United States (104) and the European Union (103). The US and EU have fully vaccinated nearly half their population while China does not communicate this information.

Most poor countries have now started to vaccinate, mainly thanks to the Covax scheme and donations of unused doses by rich countries, but the vaccination coverage remains very unequal: high-income countries (as defined by the World Bank) administered an average of 97 doses per 100 inhabitants compared with just 1.6 doses in low-income countries.

On average 52 shots have been injected per 100 inhabitants worldwide.

Four countries are not yet vaccinating: Burundi, Eritrea, Haiti and North Korea.