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Daily COVID Tracker: WHO asks African countries to equip hospitals to tackle pandemic

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked African countries to better equip their medical facilities to tackle COVID-19. Here are five updates about the pandemic this Saturday.

UK medicines regulator approves use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Friday approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old in the UK.

“We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk,” June Raine, the agency chief executive, said.

She added that “It will now be for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the deployment programme”.

Foreigners in Russia to pay for COVID vaccine

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, says foreigners in the country will not get vaccinated against COVID-19 for free.

Speaking on Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPEIF), Putin said there has been an influx of people in Russia just to get the vaccine.

He, however, said he has ordered an arrangement where foreigners can get the vaccine for a yet to be disclosed fee, hinting that Russia may commence vaccine tourism in July.

WHO asks African countries to equip their hospitals to tackle COVID-19

WHO has called on African leaders to better equip their medical facilities to tackle COVID-19.

Speaking during a virtual conference, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said many hospitals on the continent are not well equipped to fight the rise in COVID cases.

“Many African hospitals and clinics are still far from ready to cope with a huge rise in critically ill patients. We must better equip our hospitals and medical staff to avert the worst effects of a runaway surge,” she said.

“Treatment is the last line of defence against this virus and we cannot let it be breached.”

India to get 2 billion vaccine doses by December

Indian says it is confident of having more than 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

In an interview with CNBC, Hardeep Singh Puri, civil aviation minister, said the government is in talks with vaccine manufacturers.

“We have paid the two existing domestic manufacturers, Serum Institute (of India) and Bharat Biotech, advance money to produce vaccines for the whole of May, June, and July. We are only past May,” Puri said.

The minister added that government is “absolutely confident of being able to meet this target by December”.

In recent weeks, the country has seen a surge in COVID infections and deaths with hospitals running out of oxygen.

Swiss to launch COVID-19 certificates next week

Switzerland says it will start issuing COVID-19 certificates next week to people who have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus.

The move is expected to ease travel in Europe.

“The goal of the certificate is clear. It should create freedom of movement by showing one has been vaccinated, recovered or tested. In particular, it will make travel in the Schengen area simpler,” Ueli Maurer, finance minister, said on Friday.


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