The rate of vaccination in the world is occurring very differently. Israel is already making a breakthrough in relation to several countries. Zimbabwe received a vaccine donation from China. In Europe, Boris Johnson is under pressure to ease the measures and OLAF draws attention to fake vaccines.
Israel will reopen shopping and museums next week and, starting in March, bars and restaurants, at a time when 40% of the population is already vaccinated for covid-19, announced the Government.
According to a statement released today by the Prime Minister’s office, the beginning of the end of the third confinement in the country will be on February 21, Sunday, with the reopening of street commerce, shopping centers, museums and libraries.
Individuals who have received both doses of the vaccine, or who have antibodies to covid-19 due to previous infection, will also be able to visit sports halls, hotels, swimming pools and concert halls.
After pre-school and primary education resumed last week, they will now be preparatory and secondary education classes resumed in areas with a low rate of contagion.
As of March 7, according to the Government, restaurants and bars will also be allowed to reopen if the pandemic situation continues to evolve favorably.
This Friday, restrictions will be partially lifted concentration of people, with up to ten people being able to join indoors and 20 outdoors.
International flights, which have been suspended since January 24, will not resume before February 20 and land borders will remain closed.
The measures were announced at a time when 3.9 million Israelis, 40% of the population, have already received the vaccine, of which 2.5 million both doses, thanks to an agreement with the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which allowed the country to be the world leader in vaccination for covid-19.
The number of new daily cases in Israel has dropped from 8,000 in mid-January to 4,900 today and mass vaccination is expected to continue to accentuate the downward trend.
Zimbabwe receives vaccines from China
Zimbabwe received this Monday a first batch of 200,000 vaccines against Covid-19 donated by China and manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
According to the agency France-Presse, the vaccines arrived this Monday morning at Harare airport aboard the only operational aircraft in the country, a Boeing 767 from Air Zimbabwe, used by the former president Robert Mugabe to receive medical treatment abroad.
“We will not forget that, in a situation of need, China reacted quickly ”, Zimbabwe’s vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, said at the airport, saluting what he called an “opportune” donation and “another proof of the long ties of friendship and solidarity” between the two countries.
Vaccines will still need to be checked by the local drug control authority before they can be administered, according to the Government.
Zimbabwe is the first country in southern Africa to receive the Chinese vaccine against covid-19.
Its effectiveness against the variant that emerged in neighboring South Africa and has spread widely has not been publicly disclosed.
Next month, we will purchase 600,000 additional doses from China and the program will continue until we reach the goal of 1.8 million doses, “said the finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, which was also present at the airport.
The Government is in negotiations with other laboratories, including the Russian vaccine manufacturer Sputnik V.
Equatorial Guinea also recently received Sinopharm vaccines from China, which have also been used in immunization campaigns, namely in Seychelles and Egypt.
Zimbabwe aims to vaccinate 10 million people, about two-thirds of the population, to achieve group immunity.
Boris Johnson is under pressure
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called for a relief from “cautious but irreversible” confinement this Monday, now that more than 15 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a covid-19 vaccine.
“We have to be very cautious and what we want to see is cautious progress, but irreversible, and I think that’s what people and people across the country are going to want to see, ”he said during a visit to the Orpington Health and Wellbeing Center in south east London.
Johnson is under pressure to set a timetable for lifting restrictions, with a group of deputies from the Conservative Party lobbying the executive to commit to a complete reopening of the economy and society in May, after the vaccination of all people over 50, as planned.
The aviation and tourism sector also wants the government to reopen borders for tourists and allow Britons to holiday abroad starting in May, claiming 2.4 million jobs are at risk, according to a campaign called SOS Save Our Summer [Salvem o Nosso Verão].
However, the prime minister reiterated that he wants to further reduce the number of infections, which in the last seven days recorded a daily average of 13,200 cases, and admitted that it may be necessary to prolong the confinement for some activities.
“If possible, we will determine dates”, promised Boris Johnson, regarding the roadmap for the deflation that he will present within a week, on February 22, which should start with the reopening of schools from March 8.
The plan will concern England, as the autonomous governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland determine the rules in their respective regions.
After reaching the goal of vaccinating 15 million people from the four priority groups, namely over 70, clinically vulnerable people and health professionals or nursing home workers, Health authorities will now begin to immunize people aged 65 to 69.
However, to avoid importing cases with new variants with mutations against which vaccines may be less effective, the United Kingdom today began a controlled quarantine regime, in which travelers from 33 countries in southern Africa and South America they will have to spend, at their expense, 10 days in hotels determined by the authorities.
The list includes Portugal, the only European country, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, while travelers from other countries can continue to quarantine at their own residence, but in Scotland all international arrivals are subject to this controlled quarantine regime.
Packages must be booked in advance by passengers on a Government portal and cost 1,750 pounds (about 2,000 euros), and include transportation to the hotels, meals and two additional tests, on the second and eighth quarantine days.
“As this deadly virus evolves, our defenses must evolve. We have already taken tough measures to limit the spread, protect people and save lives ”, justified Health Minister Matt Hancock.
EU countries urged to keep an eye out for offers of fake vaccines
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) on Monday warned the governments of the European Union (EU) to “keep an eye out for offers of vaccines against covid-19”, for being “very often false”.
In a statement, the Director-General of OLAF, Ville Itälä, stresses that it has “heard many reports of imposters offering vaccines to governments across the EU”, pretending to be “falsely” representing “legitimate companies” and “claiming to have, or have access to, vaccines” .
Stressing that these types of offers “can take many forms” – from “delivering sample copies to guarantee the first payment, and then disappearing with the money” to “delivering batches of fake vaccines” – Ville Itälä, says that all of them have one element in common: “they are false”.
“These are scams organized to defraud national authorities seeking to increase the rate of vaccination to keep their citizens safe. They must be stopped as soon as possible ”, stresses the Director-General of OLAF.
In this context, Itälä states that OLAF “Added an extra level” to his current investigation into “fake protection products against covid-19”, with the aim of “fighting the illicit vaccine trade for covid-19”.
According to the official, this illicit trade may be “possibly being carried out through illegal imports [de vacinas] to the EU ”or through the“ marketing of fraudulent medicines ”.
The European Anti-Fraud Office’s warning comes after last Friday, the Euractiv news portal published a news item citing statements by the Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babis, according to which the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca would have proposed a parallel purchase of vaccines to its Government.
In the article, Babis stated that, “while AstraZeneca refused to deliver 80 million doses to the EU”, the Czech Republic and three other EU member states “received recurring offers of this vaccine” through an “intermediary in Dubai”.
“Believe me, we would definitely have taken this opportunity if it had been realistic. But we don’t have that money. And, of course, we have European agreements and we have to respect them, ”said Babis according to Euractiv.
In response, the pharmaceutical AstraZeneca rejected the statements of the Czech Prime Minister, stressing that “if someone offers private vaccines, it is probably fraud, they should be rejected and reported to the national authorities”.
That same day, in view of these reports, the European Commission warned of the risk of purchases of “fraudulent vaccines” by Member States.