New York offers lottery tickets as vaccine incentive; South Africa registers 3,641 new cases

New York offers lottery tickets as vaccine incentive; South Africa registers 3,641 new cases
Military personnel prepare to spray disinfectant inside a train station, in Taipei, Taiwan, on 20 May 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / RITCHIE B. TONGO)

South Africa registered 3,641 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 1,625,003. A further 61 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total deaths to 55,568.

New York state will offer $20 scratch-off lottery tickets as a vaccine incentive, with a maximum payout of $5 million. A European Union-wide plan for vaccination certificates advanced, boosting chances of a summer tourism rebound.

Moderna has begun exporting US-produced Covid-19 vaccines to other countries as domestic demand wanes.

Unvaccinated people in the US should keep wearing masks in public, said Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top health adviser. There’s “understandable confusion” after health authorities relaxed rules on masks for fully vaccinated people, he said.

Key developments

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 165 million; deaths exceed 3.4 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.54 billion doses have been given
  • How long do vaccine protections last? Science can’t say for sure
  • Social networks are exporting disinformation about vaccines
  • Vaccine holdouts in Africa reject world’s route to recovery
  • Cascade of rare complications deepens India’s Covid misery

EU vaccine certificate plan set for summer

With the summer tourism season at stake, European Union negotiators agreed to introduce mutually recognised vaccination certificates designed to let people travel within the EU without having to quarantine.

European Parliament representatives and the 27 EU governments agreed on the plan, which requires a formal approval process before taking effect at the end of June. Proof of vaccination issued by non-European governments would be accepted.

The EU will soon allow quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors from non-EU countries deemed safe, too.

Maryland offers $2m in rewards

Maryland, which previously offered residents free pizza as an incentive to get vaccinated, is now trying it with a $2-million lottery.

Forty daily drawings with $40,000 in prize money and a grand prize of $400,000 on July 4 are planned, according to Kata Hall, Governor Larry Hogan’s deputy communications director. 

Brown University requires staff vaccinations

Brown became the latest US university to require faculty and staff to be vaccinated before classes resume this fall.

Yale required last week that all faculty, staff and post-graduate students be vaccinated by August 1. Providence, Rhode Island-based Brown on Thursday asked employees to receive their final vaccine dose by July 1. All Brown employees and students will have to verify their vaccination status by uploading their vaccination card.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has tracked 387 US colleges and universities that require vaccines of at least some students or employees.

BioNTech to begin production in Turkey

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said on Thursday that the company plans to both produce and engage in research and development of vaccines in Turkey.

BioNTech plans to increase the number of vaccines to be dispatched to Turkey to 120 million, with new shipments planned from July to September, Sahin said during a televised press conference after attending a meeting of the Turkish pandemic board.

Eiffel Tower to reopen in July

The Eiffel Tower, which has been shut to visitors since November 30, will reopen on July 16, its operator said in a statement. Tickets go on sale on June 1.

France will open vaccination to all adults from May 31 as it expects increased deliveries of vaccines next month, the government said in a statement.

Astra efficacy reported to be high

Two doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine provide about 85% to 90% protection against symptomatic disease, according to statistics released by Public Health England on Thursday.

The health body estimated that 13,000 deaths have been prevented in England as of May 9 in people ages 60 and older. It also suggested that vaccinations have stopped almost 40,000 hospitalisations among the over-65s, a crucial metric in a country where the National Health Service has struggled to contain Europe’s highest death toll from the pandemic.

New York offers lottery tickets for shots

If you get vaccinated next week you could win up to $5-million, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.

Vaccinations next week will come with free scratch-off lottery tickets worth $20, with the chance of both small prizes and a multimillion-dollar payoff. “Vax and scratch,” Cuomo said at a press briefing in Buffalo. “The chances of winning something in this programme are one in nine.”

The tickets will be distributed at the 10 mass vaccination sites around the state, he said. The programme will run from May 24-28. Cuomo said the state will later decide whether to extend it.

New York will also start vaccine centres at airports, including John F Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.

Fauci cites masking confusion

US health leaders’ move to relax nationwide rules on masks for fully vaccinated people has spurred “understandable confusion” that must be cleared up, said Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor.

Fully vaccinated Americans can shed their masks in most places, including indoors and in large groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 13. The devil is in the details: Even fully vaccinated people are recommended to wear masks on forms of public transportation, in healthcare and correctional facilities, and where required by state and local governments or businesses. And the unvaccinated should still mask up in public places as before.

“The problem is,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “people interpreted that as a signal that you don’t need masks any more, which absolutely is not the case.”

New York City passes vaccine milestone

New York City has passed four million first doses, with a total of 7,753,184 shots administered.

“We have proven vaccinations work,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a briefing on Thursday. “Vaccinations are your ticket to freedom. We can have an extraordinary summer of joy, but we need to keep getting vaccinated.”

New York is trying to entice more residents to get vaccinated, and is now targeting families. The mayor announced the city is opening a vaccination site at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, with the extra lure of free same-day admission and a family pass for a future visit. A site is also set to open at the Bronx Zoo, and one is in the works at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island.

These come on top of the vaccination site at the American Museum of Natural History.

Brazil reports India variant

Brazil confirmed its first cases of a variant first found in India. The infected people are six crew members of the Shandong da Zhi vessel, which came from South Africa and was chartered by Vale to deliver iron ore in Sao Luis city, located in Maranhao state, UOL reports.

Moderna exports shots from US

Moderna has begun exporting US-produced Covid-19 vaccines to other countries, a key step as US vaccine supply begins to be shipped abroad.

Moderna and Pfizer have been the backbone of the US vaccination campaign, which is levelling off as domestic demand wanes. Their shipments of their coveted mRNA vaccines could be a turning point for nations that have sought to get any doses they can, including ones that have shown lower efficacy.

G7 to discuss vaccine certificates

Group of Seven (G7) nations will discuss ways to recognise Covid-19 vaccination certifications internationally, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The group of major economies aims to support the creation of a global framework for mutual recognition of documents showing proof of inoculation, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Such an endorsement, if it leads to the creation of concrete measures, would ease the revival of global travel as more people get the coronavirus jab. It would be especially welcomed by the airline and tourism industries, among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Japan main destination for EU shots

The European Union has authorised the export of more than 210 million vaccine doses to 45 countries since the end of January, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg.

Japan is the main destination, with some 90 million shipments authorised, followed by the UK with almost 21 million finished doses. The EU expects to receive about 27 million doses this week, bringing the total deliveries to 261 million by Sunday.

Taiwan local transmissions surge

Taiwan is facing major threats from a surge in coronavirus cases and drought-triggered power outages, potentially derailing one of Asia’s economic success stories this year.

The island has gone from zero local cases this month to 1,512 domestic infections in the past six days. Stocks fell on Thursday after a soft lockdown was extended to the entire island. With schools already closed, the new rules make masks mandatory outdoors, set limits on social gatherings and close many public facilities. DM

With assistance by Ian Fisher, Antony Sguazzin, Henry Goldman, Keshia Clukey, Francois De Beaupuy, Vivek Shankar, and Janet Lorin.


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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