File photo of a doctor advising medical staff on procedures in a Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) in Sao Paulo, Brazil | Bloomberg
File photo of a doctor advising medical staff on procedures in a Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) in Sao Paulo, Brazil | Bloomberg

New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count being over 7.3 crore cases and more than 16 lakh deaths.

Political infighting, haphazard planning and a nascent anti-vaccine movement has been marring Brazil’s plans to immunise its population against Covid-19. US health workers become the first to receive vaccine. And South Africa sees a surge in infections.

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ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

‘Playing With Lives’ — Brazil’s vaccine plan mired in chaos

Political infighting, haphazard planning and a nascent anti-vaccine movement has left Brazil without a clear vaccination plan, reports The New York Times.

Even though the country’s health ministry has announced that it intends to start a vaccination campaign in March, Brazil’s health regulatory agency, Anvisa, is yet to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

The report quotes Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the House, as saying, “People are going to start to panic if Brazil continues to lag behind in having a plan, a clear and objective strategy.”

It details that the “discussion of vaccine access and safety has also become mired in a partisan dispute” as President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly maligned the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine.

Brazil has reported 69,29,409 cases and 1,81,945 deaths.

Also read: Our vaccine production, delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity — India at UN

‘Healing is coming’ — US health workers start getting vaccine

Several healthcare workers in the US became the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine Monday, reports the Associated Press.

It quotes nurse Sandra Lindsay, the first to be inoculated, as saying, “I feel like healing is coming.”

As many as 145 sites around the US have received vaccine shipments “with more deliveries set for the coming days”, the report notes.

The vaccines are being first administered to high-risk healthcare workers. While several are calling the vaccine “doses of hope”, experts have also stressed that there should be equitable distribution to communities of colour. The report quotes Chief Academic Officer at Ochsner Health in suburban New Orleans, Dr Leonardo Seoane, as saying that getting vaccinated is “a privilege”.

US has reported 1,69,42,822 cases and 3,08,089 deaths.

Student parties blamed as South Africa braces for second wave

South Africa is bracing for a second wave due to a surge in the number of cases, reports The Guardian. According to the report, “mass end-of-year parties” are being blamed for the spate in infections.

It quotes Health Minister Zweli Mkhize as saying, “A new issue and most worrying is…a large number of parties and young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to [social distancing and other measures]”.

For instance, after attending an event in the south-eastern coastal town of Ballito, two-thirds of the 1,500 guests tested positive. Similar super-spreader events also took place in Cape Town.

South Africa has reported 8,66,127 cases and 23,451 deaths.

Philippines repatriates over 300,000 OFWs since onset of Covid outbreak

More than 3,00,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in their host countries have been repatriated by the Phillipines government in the last 10 months, reports Arab News.

The report quotes Sarah Lou Arriola, undersecretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as saying that it was “the biggest repatriation effort in the history” of the Phillipines.

So far, five flights have been used to repatriate the stranded workers from Saudi Arabia, while the DFA also assisted in the safe return of foreign workers from other regions like the Solomon Islands.

“In a televised interview on Friday, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Hans Cacdac said the government aimed to repatriate 70,000 to 80,000 more OFWs by the end of the year,” the report further notes.

Phillipines has reported 4,50,733 cases and 8,757 deaths, so far.

First Covid-19 vaccinations administered in Canada

A long-term care resident and a nursing home worker became the first to receive Covid-19 vaccination in Canada Monday, reports The Globe and Mail.

The report also details that “shots from drug company Pfizer were administered in Quebec City and Toronto within roughly half an hour of each other, creating some confusion” about who it had been administered to at first.

It quotes nursing home worker Anita Quindangen as saying, “It’s an honour, thank you very much. I’ll continue to do my job…”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has also been quoted as saying, “What we witnessed today is a massive step forward in the fight against this deadly virus”. Meanwhile, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube called it “a very, very big day”, according to the report.

Canada has reported 4,68,862 cases and 13,553 deaths.

What else we are reading:

Life in Wuhan almost back to normal, but scars still visible: The Straits Times

Why tens of thousands of Australians will be stranded abroad this Christmas: CNN

Also read: Singapore approves Pfizer Covid vaccine, expects first shots by December-end


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