Fauci Pushes Need for Global Vaccination Effort

(Associated Press) The virus that causes COVID-19 could gain a permanent place in the population without global vaccination, warns the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“We’ve got to get the whole world vaccinated,” Fauci told reporters Monday during the International AIDS Society’s COVID-19 conference. “If we don’t get a global effort, without a doubt, this is not going to go away.”

Vaccine supply greatly lags demand, and access has been uneven around the world. Recent results on two candidate vaccines suggest they may work less well against some virus variants, especially one first detected in South Africa, but they are still extremely good at preventing serious illness or death, Fauci said.

The impact of vaccines on the pandemic depends not just on how well they work but how quickly and completely they’re distributed, he added.

Vaccines and public health measures such as wearing masks, keeping social distance, avoiding crowds and washing hands are the best way to prevent more cases and further mutations of the virus, he and other experts at the conference said.

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has acquired 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are expected to arrive in the second quarter of the year, the government has confirmed.

The purchase is a significant boost to the government’s efforts to acquire vaccines to reach its goal of inoculating 40 million people, representing 67% of the country’s population, this year.

The cost of the Pfizer vaccines will be announced at a later date by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, said Lwazi Manzi, spokeswoman for the health ministry.

South Africa is eagerly awaiting the arrival Monday of its first delivery of vaccines, 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. That will be followed up by another 500,000 doses later this month. Those AstraZeneca vaccines will be used to inoculate frontline health workers.

In the coming months, South Africa is expecting to receive 6 million vaccine doses from the international COVAX facility, 9 million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it is approved, and an additional 20 million from the African Union’s vaccine acquisition task team.

JERUSALEM — Israel says it has shipped the first batch of the Moderna vaccine to the Palestinians.

The unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, said Monday that it coordinated a first shipment of 2,000 doses out of 5,000 doses for use by medical teams under the Palestinian Authority.

The transfer at Beituniya Crossing took place a day after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office announced the vaccinations had been approved for Palestinians. Israel is leading one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns after securing millions of doses from major drug makers Pfizer and Moderna.

International human rights groups and U.N. experts have said Israel is responsible for the well being of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel denies it has such an obligation. The Palestinians have not publicly requested vaccines from Israel.