Credit: CC0 Public Domain Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo became the first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine under the global Covax program as U.S. health workers prepared to distribute nearly four million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single shot .

Covax, a program designed to ensure that poorer countries don’t forego Covid-19 vaccines, which so far have largely been soaked up by rich nations, is slated to deliver at least two billion doses by the end of the year.

Akufo-Addo received his AstraZeneca shot along with his wife live on TV the day before the rest of the first batch of 600,000 Covax cans goes into use across Ghana.

“It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it so that everyone in Ghana can be comfortable taking this vaccine,” said the president.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also got his coronavirus sting on Monday – although a bug in the online booking system resulted in thousands of others being turned away from hospitals across the country.

And in the United States, 3.9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are slated to be dispensed after it was the final push to get the green light from US regulators.

The J&J rollout is a boost to President Joe Biden’s plan to fight back a virus that has killed more than half a million Americans, making the US the hardest-hit nation in the world.

Legal war over Covid shocks

Vaccines are seen as vital to restore the world to normal and to heal the economy after a pandemic that killed more than 2.5 million people worldwide.

More than 224 million doses of vaccine have been administered globally, according to national data from AFP, with the Philippines being among the youngest countries to begin a rollout on Monday.

But rich countries have bought up the vast majority of the available countries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the crisis cannot end unless poor countries can also vaccinate their populations.

A new series is brewing through a call led by India and South Africa to renounce the surrender of intellectual property rights to the vaccines.

Backed by dozens of governments from Argentina to Bangladesh, they argue that this would boost production and ultimately bring the pandemic to a faster end.

But the United States, the European Union and Switzerland, which are home to large pharmaceutical companies, are opposed to the idea that will be beaten up at a World Trade Organization meeting on Monday and Tuesday.

Golden Globes mishaps

Some countries are now cautiously lifting strict restrictions on daily living as infection rates stabilize. Germans are rushing to hairdressers on Monday when the salons reopen.

“It’s such a relief. I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror first!” Hans-Joachim Berthold, a 64-year-old Berliner, told AFP after his first cut in two and a half months.

While vaccination campaigns are well underway, the spread of highly infectious variants of Covid has fueled concerns that they could prove more resistant to the vaccines.

The UK has asked a person infected with the strong Brazilian tribe to come forward after the person failed to leave any contact details during the test – meaning they may still be infecting others without knowing it.

In some countries, widespread skepticism about vaccines remains another barrier to achieving mass immunity, although a survey of six countries suggests willingness to get the sting is on the rise.

Even in France, the country with the least enthusiasm of the respondents, the willingness is up to 59 percent, according to the study by KekstCNC.

In the entertainment world, mass vaccination is raising hopes of a return to live events with large crowds.

The Berlin Film Festival started online on Monday, but organizers hope to hold a gala awards ceremony in June if the pandemic conditions allow.

At the normally dazzling Golden Globes on Sunday night, nasty technical glitches mixed up the handing out of awards to those behind some of the best films and television networks of the past year.

The first winner of the night, “Judas and the Black Messiah”, supporting actor Daniel Kaluuya, initially lost the tone for his acceptance speech and forced the presenter Laura Dern to apologize.

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© 2021 AFP

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