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South Africa bans alcohol (again) as COVID cases spike; Israel bolts ahead in race to inoculate; world’s largest vaccine maker dedicates supply to developing countries

A look at how COVID-19 is impacting life around the world.

by Stranger’s Guide

South Africa

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa banned the sale of alcohol — again — following a spike in COVID-19 cases, claiming “reckless behavior due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission” and put a strain on the country’s hospitals. Ramaphosa had previously banned the sale of booze and tobacco in April at the outset of the pandemic. 27,000 South Africans have died of the coronavirus and the country has just announced the new variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — has also been found. (Face to Face Africa)

India

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, will likely make most of its COVID-19 inoculations for developing countries, the company announced this week. The first 100 million doses manufactured will be supplied to the Indian government and not sold on the private market, its CEO, Adar Poonawalla, told the Associated Press, a decision he said was made in part to prevent hoarding. (The Hindu)

Israel

More than 14 percent of Israelis have reportedly already been vaccinated against COVID-19 — more than 10 times the rate for the United States and the United Kingdom. So far, an estimated 1.4 million Israelis have been given the vaccine, or about as many people as France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Canada and Spain combined. Experts say this has established Israel as effectively a huge laboratory for studying the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness and any side effects. (Haaretz)

Bolivia

Long lines of people seeking COVID-19 tests could be seen outside a hospital in La Paz as cases in the country have spiked in the last two weeks and the second wave of the virus has seen more patients requiring intensive care. Oscar Romero, director of one of Bolivia’s main hospitals, described the situation as “far more serious” as intensive care wards of major hospitals in the country — which already had an ailing healthcare system — near collapse. Two of Bolivia’s largest cities, La Paz and Santa Cruz, have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In neighboring Peru, hospitals in Lima, the capital, reportedly had only 16 ICU beds with ventilators. (Al Jazeera)

Nigeria

Nigeria, which currently has close to 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, plans to inoculate 40 percent of its population against the coronavirus this year using the World Health Organization-backed COVAX scheme to provide vaccines to developing countries. Faisal Shuaib, head of Nigeria’s primary healthcare agency, said the country planned to receive 42 million doses initially and that a further 30 percent of the country would be inoculated in 2022. Vaccine rollout might prove a daunting task for officials there, where they’ll have to contend with an underdeveloped distribution infrastructure to reach 200 million Nigerians, many of whom are skeptical of the inoculations and the government’s handling of the crisis. In September, Kola Tubosun, who contributed to Stranger’s Guide‘s Lagos edition, told us how Nigerians were concerned with how the government planned to keep children safe during the pandemic. (Reuters)

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