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AFP
June 21, 2021

China gives one-billionth Covid shot as Brazil death toll hits milestone

AFP
June 21, 2021

BEIJING: China on Sunday announced it had administered its one-billionth shot in the world’s biggest coronavirus inoculation drive as Brazil’s death toll from the pandemic passed 500,000.

The global death toll from Covid-19 is now more than 3.8 million and many nations are still battling outbreaks, but vaccine drives in some countries are allowing activities that were unthinkable a few months ago.

China’s vaccine milestone comes after the number of shots administered globally passed 2.5 billion on Friday, according to an AFP count from official sources.

But the Asian giant’s vaccination efforts initially got off to a slow start after a successful fight against the virus left little sense of urgency to get jabbed. A lack of transparency and previous vaccine scandals have also led to resistance among many residents.

Authorities have set an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.

Some provinces are offering vaccines for free to encourage people to roll up their sleeves. Residents in central Anhui province have been given free eggs, while some living in Beijing have received shopping coupons.

China’s success against the virus stands in stark contrast to Brazil, which on Saturday became the second nation after the United States to surpass half a million Covid-19 deaths.

Vaccination efforts have been slow with only 11 per cent of the Brazilian population inoculated, as a third wave of infections spreads through the nation. On Saturday, thousands of Brazilians again took to the streets to protest against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.

In India, there were also fears that people were not taking the Covid threat seriously enough, just a few weeks after crematoriums were operating around the clock dealing with virus victims.

Doctors are worried that India is letting its guard down again too early as shopping malls and markets buzz with customers once more.

The pandemic is also casting a shadow over the Tokyo Olympics, which will start in just over a month. A member of the Uganda Olympic team tested positive for coronavirus on arrival in Japan on Saturday, officials said. It was the first positive Covid test among Olympic arrivals from overseas, according to Japanese media. Authorities in many countries continue to wrestle with crowds flouting coronavirus rules on social distancing and mask-wearing.

In France, five police officers were injured as they broke up a 1,500-strong illegal rave, authorities said, with one party-goer losing a hand. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, who defied an 11pm coronavirus curfew on Friday in an area around a race course in Brittany.