Flash Briefing: Jooste charged in Germany; FirstRand dividend; Covid-19 science

  • Former Steinhoff International CEO Markus Jooste is among four people charged with accounting violations in Germany, according to an anonymous person familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors said they may issue a statement about the case. Jooste’s German lawyer called the allegations inaccurate.
  • FirstRand declared an interim dividend, the first since the South African Reserve Bank lifted its suspension on payouts. The move is “in anticipation of the expected rebound in the economy and to support the anticipated balance sheet growth.”, it said. Adjusted earnings per share beat estimates as profits dropped by a fifth in the six months to December. The company saw weak demand for credit and slowed transactional volumes.
  • Africa’s Centre’s for Disease Control warns that the Covid-19 virus may become endemic in Africa unless more is done to speed up to roll out of vaccines. “If by the end of 2022, we haven’t vaccinated at least 60% of the population, then the chances that we’re moving toward an endemic situation of Covid on the continent becomes very, very real,” said John Nkengasong, director of the CDC.
  • South African scientists say their findings that antibodies formed in response to infections with the Covid-19 variant first found in the country can protect against other strains of the virus, may lead to more effective vaccines. “If you are actually infected with this variant or you can design a vaccine with this variant it might provide cross-protection against other variants,” said Alex Sigal, of the African Health Research Institute.

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