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BERLIN — German pharmaceutical maker BioNTech, which developed the first widely used coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, saw its profits surge in the second quarter of 2021.
The Mainz-based company said Monday that it made a net profit of almost 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) from April to June. This boosted first-half net profits to over 3.9 billion euros, compared with a net loss of almost 142 million euros in the first six months of 2020.
The company has said the windfall from its mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine will help it to develop drugs against cancer and other diseases.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Canada begins allowing vaccinated US citizens to visit again
— The pandemic’s impact on Tokyo Games is making Olympians dream of Paris
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria has postponed the rollout of its second batch of COVID-19 vaccine due to “unforeseen circumstances,” a setback for Africa’s most populous nation as it faces a major surge in confirmed cases.
The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 made the announcement Sunday night, without providing further details about why the Tuesday launch was being delayed.
Less than 2 percent of the country’s 200 million citizens have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
Nigeria initially received about 4 million doses of AstraZeneca donated through COVAX, but exhausted its supply in mid-July. The country now has received 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States.
There has been a 553% increase in confirmed monthly infections since the delta variant was detected in the country in early July, according to data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia is reopening Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina to pilgrims from abroad to perform the smaller pilgrimage known as “umrah.”
State media reported that for the first time since the pandemic prompted the government to seal off Mecca to international travelers, generic ventolin coupon without prescription the kingdom will begin gradually receiving requests for umrah pilgrims from various countries of the world starting Monday.
Travelers will need to prove they have been vaccinated and will need to quarantine if they are traveling from nations still red-listed by the kingdom, which include many of the countries that once sent the most pilgrims annually. The government plans to increase the capacity of pilgrims to 2 million per month.
The kingdom has allowed its own citizens and residents to perform the umrah since October of last year under certain conditions, and held dramatically downsized hajj pilgrimages last year and this year due to the pandemic.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has started a program to home-manage asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, abandoning its policy of hospitalizing almost everyone who tests positive, as the number of daily infections surges.
People aged between 2 and 65 will be observed by doctors manning call centers. Doctors will assess the patients daily and recommend admission if needed.
However, those who are obese or with a history of chronic heart, kidney or other major ailments will be hospitalized immediately.
Until recently, most people testing positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized in Sri Lanka. However, the country has seen a sharp surge in patients since late July with the emergence of the delta variant. The number of new daily cases is approaching 3,000, with almost 100 deaths daily on average.
Photos have circulated on social media over the past week showing crowded hospital wards with many patients on the floor, along corridors and even outdoors.
The government says it has reserved more wards to help ease the congestion and refer asymptomatic patients for home care.
Sri Lanka has reported 329,994 COVID-19 positive cases so far including 5,111 deaths.
For the second straight day, Iran has shattered its single-day record for new coronavirus deaths and infections.
Iranian authorities on Monday reported 588 new fatalities, surpassing the previous day’s record by nearly four dozen. Another 40,800 new virus cases were recorded, with more than 6,500 people in critical condition.
Over a year and a half into the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, Iran is in the midst of its deadliest wave yet, fueled by the rapid spread of the delta variant.
The pandemic has killed more than 94,000 people in Iran, overwhelming hospitals in major cities as mass vaccination remains far off. Roughly 4% of Iran’s more than 80 million people have been fully vaccinated.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal has begun a campaign to fully vaccinate all over-65s in the country Monday against COVID-19 following the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan.
The 1.4 million citizens over 65 had been given the first dose of the vaccine in March but they had to wait for many months for the second one because of India’s refusal to export any vaccine made there. Japan’s donation follows Nepal government’s desperate appeals to foreign governments for AstraZeneca vaccines.
Nepal is attempting to boost its vaccination campaign, which struggled for months due to a shortage of all vaccines. It received 4 million Sinopharm doses from China last month and 1.5 million Johnson and Johnson jabs gifted by the United States.
The government is warning of the possibility of a new wave of infections in the Himalayan country. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nepal is 714,877 since the pandemic began last year.
CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian government says Moderna next month will become the third COVID-19 vaccine available in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian vaccine regulator approved the Moderna shot Monday for adults.
The first million doses will arrive in Australia in late September and 10 million Moderna shots are scheduled to be delivered to Australia this year, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Australia has a shortage of the Pfizer vaccine and a glut of locally manufactured AstraZeneca, which many are refusing to take because of the slight risk of blood clotting. New South Wales and Victoria states, where cities are in lockdown due to virus outbreaks, have stockpiles of more than a million unwanted doses of AstraZeneca, media reported.
Only 22% of adults among an Australian population of 26 million people had been fully vaccinated by Monday. The government expects to have provided a vaccine to every Australian adult who wants one by the end of the year.
BEIJING — More than 30 local officials have been fired or received other punishments for shortcomings in handling China’s latest virus surge.
Among the officials fired for failing to fully implement anti-pandemic measures were a vice mayor, heads of city districts and health commissions, and staff from hospital management, airport and tourism departments.
China’s National Health Commission said Monday 94 new cases of domestic transmission had been recorded over the previous 24 hours. Of those, 41 were in the central province of Henan, which has been slammed by deadly flooding in recent weeks.
Another 38 cases were reported in Yangzhou, a neighboring city to Nanjing, where China’s widest outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic was traced. The highly contagious delta variant spread among Nanjing airport workers and has since spread from tropical Hainan province in the south to Inner Mongolia in the far north.
While the number of total cases in the outbreak hovers around 1,500, a small number relative to those occurring in other countries, Chinese authorities have renewed travel restrictions, locked down communities and sealed off the entire city of Zhangjiajie, with a population of 1.5 million.
China has administered more than 1.7 billion doses of vaccine domestically, although it doesn’t disclose how many of its 1.4 billion people are now fully protected. China’s vaccines are administered in one-, two- or three-dose regimens, but questions have been raised about the efficacy of the domestic jabs as the delta variant continues to spread.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Victoria state in Australia is lifting its pandemic lockdown beginning Tuesday, except in the city of Melbourne.
Australia’s second-most populous state imposed a seven-day lockdown last Thursday due to concerns about the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
But Victoria Premier Daniel Andrew says all the cases detected in Victoria in recent days have been in Melbourne, with 11 more reported there Monday. So the lockdown will end in the rest of the state at the end of Monday.
Neighboring New South Wales state on Monday reported 283 new coronavirus infections and one COVID-19 death in the latest 24-hour period. The death toll from the latest outbreak that was first detected in Sydney on June 16 is now 29.
Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and will remain under tight pandemic restrictions until at least Aug. 28.
NEW ORLEANS — With new coronavirus cases surging in Louisiana, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival won’t be returning this year.
The festival is traditionally held in the spring but it had been scheduled to run Oct. 8-10 and Oct. 15-17 after being canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But organizers on Sunday cited “current exponential growth” of new cases in the city and region in announcing that the festival will not occur as planned.
They say next year’s dates are April 29-May 8.
Jazz Fest celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. The music encompasses nearly every style imaginable: blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, Zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, contemporary and traditional jazz, country, bluegrass and everything in between.
MIAMI — Ready to party at one of South Beach’s most glamorous nightclubs? Then roll up your sleeves. LIV is offering free COVID vaccines outside the Miami club where high rollers spend up to $20,000 just for a table.
The star-studded nightclub, where Super Bowl champs celebrate at parties that have inspired lyrics from Drake and Kanye West, set up pop-up COVID vaccine sites over the weekend to entice the young demographic.
The Sunshine State set another record high over the weekend. On Saturday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 23,903 new COVID-19 cases for Friday. That tops the previous day’s record of 22,783 new cases.
Clubs LIV and Story were shuttered for roughly a year during the pandemic and re-opened back in April. Owner David Grutman, the king of South Beach’s night life scene, who also owns a restaurant and hotel with Pharrell, said “We are excited, we want to stay open, and we know the only way to make that happen is if people get vaccinated, so we want to make it as accessible as possible.”
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