Brazil investigates reports of vaccines being exchanged for illegal gold
Federal prosecutors in the Brazilian state of Roraima are investigating reports that illegally-mined gold is being exchanged for Covid-19 vaccines in the Yanomami indigenous reserve, the prosecutors office told Reuters.
Tribal leaders in the Amazon region have complained of the deals and prosecutors say they will investigate the reports as part of an investigation already underway into the diversion of vaccine shots intended for indigenous people.
Brazil is currently experiencing one of the worst waves of the coronavirus pandemic any country has suffered, and its indigenous people are among the most vulnerable.
Brazil's P1 coronavirus variant mutating, may become more dangerous: study
Brazil’s P1 coronavirus variant, behind a deadly Covid-19 surge in the Latin American country that has raised international alarm, is mutating in ways that could make it better able to evade antibodies, according to scientists studying the virus.
Reuters reports that research conducted by the public health institute Fiocruz into the variants circulating in Brazil found mutations in the spike region of the virus that is used to enter and infect cells.
Those changes, the scientists said, could make the virus more resistant to vaccines — which target the spike protein — with potentially grave implications for the severity of the outbreak in Latin America’s most populous nation.
Merkel under fire over German Covid-19 lockdown law
German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced opposition to a plan to seek new powers to force coronavirus lockdowns on areas with high infection rates, with the imposition of curfews drawing particular fire given the country’s authoritarian past.
Reiner Haseloff, premier of the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, said it was more important to motivate people to cooperate in order to get infections under control rather than banning them from leaving home at night. “If no one cooperates anymore, then we have a problem. Then it doesn’t matter how many laws we make."
Georg Maier, interior minister in Thuringia, also expressed concern about imposing night-time curfews, saying it would be hard for the police to enforce them in the whole region.
Without J&J, EU vaccination drive could slip by over 2 months: Airfinity
The suspension of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine could delay efforts to vaccinate most people in the European Union by over two months to December, according to a forecast by scientific information and analytics company Airfinity.
“If the EU can’t use the J&J vaccine indefinitely it could push the timeline for vaccinating 75 per cent of the population back into December,” London-based Airfinity said in a forecast update provided to Reuters.
Without J&J, the EU would reach 75pc coverage — viewed as a benchmark for achieving herd immunity — by December 8, Airfinity projected, representing slippage of more than two months from an earlier expected date of September 30.
EU countries move towards Covid passes to reopen summer travel
European Union countries have formally agreed to launch Covid travel passes as a step towards reopening to tourism this summer and will negotiate details with the bloc’s lawmakers in May, two diplomatic sources said.
The certificates would allow those vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or with negative test results to travel more easily in the EU, where restrictions on movement have weighed heavily on the travel and tourism industry for over a year.
The 27 EU member states “underlined their commitment to have the framework ready by the summer of 2021”, said a document endorsed by national envoys and seen by Reuters.