South Africa to Make Pfizer Shots; Indonesia Curbs: Virus Update

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE reached an agreement to partner with South Africa’s Biovac Institute to make their vaccine in Cape Town and deliver more than 100 million doses annually to the nations of Africa, the world’s least-vaccinated continent.

Indonesia, which reported a record 1,383 fatalities over a 24-hour period, imposed curbs that vary based on the situation in a location. Java and Bali were put on the highest levels of 3 and 4, with rules that are equivalent to previous emergency curbs.

In the U.S., the American Hospital Association backed medical centers mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for health-care workers. The announcement followed New York City’s decision to require Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing of all workers in its public hospitals and clinics in an attempt to slow an increase in cases sparked by the highly transmissible delta variant.

Texas Cases Jump Most in Three Months (5:20 a.m. HK)

Texas reported the most confirmed infections in more than three months and hospitalizations climbed.

There were 3,621 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily total since April 13, state health department figures showed. Hospitalizations have more than doubled so far this month and now stand at 3,566.

More than 51,000 Texans have died from the virus, although no new fatalities have been reported in four of the past five days. Meanwhile, Governor Greg Abbott pledged not to reimpose mask mandates or other restrictions.

Hospital Group Backs Vaccine Mandate (5:08 a.m. HK)

The American Hospital Association backed medical centers mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for health-care workers. “The AHA supports hospitals and health systems that choose, based on local factors, to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for their workforce,” the group’s president said in a statement Wednesday. “Doing so will help protect the health and well-being of health-care personnel and the patients and communities they proudly serve.”

The group said hospitals mandating vaccinations should provide exemptions for medical reasons. Hospital workers were among the first in the U.S. to be offered the inoculations and an increasing number of hospitals have been requiring them for employees.

Breakthrough Cases Expected at White House (5 a.m. HK)

The White House is likely to record breakthrough Covid cases “statistically speaking” because there are more than 2,000 people on its grounds every day, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. Officials continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say masks aren’t required for fully vaccinated people.

President Joe Biden hasn’t had to change his behavior or self quarantine, Psaki added. Her comments came a day after she confirmed a fully inoculated staff member had tested positive for Covid. She has said there have been other breakthrough Covid cases among vaccinated White House staffers but hasn’t provided details.

Ivory Coast to Buy 3.5 Million J&J Doses (3:10 p.m. NY)

Ivory Coast plans to buy 3.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines by December, while neighboring Burkina Faso received a donation of 150,000 J&J shots from the U.S. despite concerns about the inoculation’s side effects.

NYC to Require Vaccines for Health Workers (12:55 p.m. NY)

New York City will begin requiring Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing of all workers in its public hospitals and clinics in an attempt to slow an increase in cases.

The highly contagious delta variant, first identified in India, now makes up 69% of tested cases in New York City, data show. Delta has driven a recent increase in cases, especially among the unvaccinated.

About 60% of the city’s more than 42,000 public hospital employees have been vaccinated, according to Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive officer of the system. Citywide, 65% of all adults have received their shots.

Zambia Takes Delivery of J&J Doses (10:30 a.m. NY)

Zambia on Wednesday took delivery of 151,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the U.S. through the World Health Oranization-backed Covax facility.

The single-dose vaccine is the third to be used in the southern African nation, after it earlier began inoculations using AstraZeneca and Sinopharm shots. Zambia has reported 188,573 cumulative coronavirus cases and 3,162 deaths.

Fakes Vaccines in Uganda (9:13 a.m. NY)

At least 800 people in Uganda received fake Covid-19 vaccines in June from “unscrupulous people” as employers rushed to inoculate workers amid a spike in infections.

Some companies paid to have their employees vaccinated at their work premises, but the medical officials turned out to be fraudsters largely administering water, according to Warren Naamara, the director of State House Health Monitoring Unit. Two people were arrested over the scam, he said by phone.

Indonesia Shifts to Variable Curbs (8:37 a.m. NY)

Indonesia will use a four-level movement-restriction strategy that varies from city to city based on how badly affected they are, before a plan to begin easing the curbs next week.

The government will start to remove the limits on July 26 if the number of new virus cases continues to decline, said Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto. Java and Bali are placed at the highest levels of 3 and 4, with rules that are equivalent to the previous emergency curbs.

Pfizer Joins With Biovac for Africa Shots (7:15 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. reached an agreement to start production of its vaccine at a facility in Cape Town to deliver more than 100 million doses annually to African nations. Pfizer and its German vaccine partner, BioNTech SE, signed a letter of intent with Biovac Institute, a company partially owned by the South African government, to manufacture the shots.

The companies expect to bring Biovac’s Cape Town-based facility into their broader coronavirus vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021, and to begin producing finished doses in 2022. At full capacity, Biovac is expected to produce more than 100 million doses a year, all of which would be distributed to the more than 50 member states of the African Union. The financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Indonesia Reports Deadliest Day (6:51 a.m. NY)

The country had 1,383 fatalities in the 24 hours through midday Wednesday, the most since the coronavirus pandemic began, even as new infections eased in the last few days. The government may start relaxing restrictions on movement on July 26 if the slowdown in cases continues.

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