Flash Briefing: Riots cost SA R50bn; Pfizer to produce vaccines in Cpt; J&J vaccine less effective against delta

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  • A week of deadly riots in South Africa could cost the country about 50 billion rand ($3.4 billion) in lost output, while 150,000 jobs have been placed at risk, the Presidency said, citing estimates from the South African Property Owners Association. About 200 malls were targeted and some 3,000 shops were looted during the protests, while 200 banks and post offices were vandalized, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told reporters in Pretoria, the capital, on Tuesday. In a meeting with more than 90 chief executives and industry leaders on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa conceded that his administration was inadequately prepared to deal with the scale of the unrest and the security forces didn’t respond quickly enough.
  • Pfizer Inc. said it reached an agreement to start production of its Covid-19 vaccine at a facility in Cape Town in an effort to deliver more than 100 million doses annually to African nations. Pfizer and its German vaccine partner, BioNTech SE, said Wednesday they signed a letter of intent with Biovac Institute, a company partially owned by the South African government, to manufacture the shots. The companies expect to bring Biovac’s Cape Town-based facility into the fold of their broader coronavirus vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021, and to begin producing finished doses in 2022. 
  • A study found that Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is much less effective against the delta and lambda variants than against the original virus, the New York Times reported. The lab-based findings, which haven’t been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal, suggest the need for a second dose for the 13 million people who have received the inoculation. The authors of the study recommended an mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer Inc.-Biontech SE or Moderna Inc. as the second shot. The results contrast those from smaller studies published by J&J earlier this month that suggested a single dose of its vaccine is effective against delta even eight months after inoculation, the Times said.
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