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Pfizer and Moderna raise prices for COVID-19 vaccines in EU: Financial Times
1 August 2021, 2:53 PM

Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc have raised the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines in their latest European Union supply contracts, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. The new price for the Pfizer shot was 19.50 euros($23.15) against 15.50 euros previously, the newspaper said, citing portions of the contracts seen.

The price of a Moderna vaccine was $25.50 a dose, the contracts show, up from about 19 euros in the first procurement deal but lower than the previously agreed $28.50 because the order had grown, the report said, citing one official close to the matter.

The European Commission said on Tuesday that the EU is on course to hit a target of fully vaccinating at least 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer.

In May, the EU said it expects to have received more than a billion doses of vaccines by the end of September from four drug-makers. Pfizer and Moderna were not immediately available for comment to Reuters.

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Rescuers pull 394 migrants from dangerously overcrowded boat off Tunisia
1 August 2021, 2:42 PM

Two humanitarian rescue ships pulled 394 migrants from a dangerously overcrowded wooden boat in the Mediterranean overnight on Sunday in an operation lasting about six hours, a Reuters witness said.

The German and French NGO ships Sea-Watch 3 and Ocean Viking rescued the migrants in Tunisian waters 68 km (42 miles) from the North African coast, near oil facilities and other ships.

Sea-Watch 3, which assumed command of the operation, took 141 of the survivors while Ocean Viking took the rest. The yacht Nadir, from the German NGO ResQ Ship, later gave support.

It was not clear if there were any deaths or injuries among the migrants who were in the wooden boat, which was crammed with migrants on deck and inside the hull.

The craft was taking in water and its engine was not working, the Reuters witness said.

Migrant boat departures from Libya and Tunisia to Italy and other parts of Europe have increased in recent months as weather conditions have improved.

According to the UN-affiliated International Organisation for Migration, more than 1 100 people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East have perished this year in the Mediterranean.

Many of the migrants in this latest rescue were seen jumping off the boat and trying to swim to Sea-Watch 3, the Reuters witness said.

The migrants were mainly men from Morocco, Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria.

Olympic silver medallist Bianca Buitendag receives a warm welcome home
31 July 2021, 7:20 PM

A large group of supporters gathered at the George Airport on Saturday to welcome South African surfer, Bianca Buitendag, home.

Buitendag who hails from Victoria Bay, in the Western Cape, won silver in the women’s surfing event in Tokyo on Tuesday. This is the first time the sport was included in the Olympics.

After a teary reunion with her family, she was greeted by local residents who made an arch with their surfboards for her to walk through.

Buitendag came second to surfing great, Carissa Moore from the US – reaching her goal of securing a place on the Olympic podium. She says it still feels so surreal.

“The last few days have been overwhelming with emotions. Obviously, exhausted from the event. It’s four days after and I’m still stiff. I guess I did try hard. It’s starting to get more real as I approached coming home. So proud to represent George, it’s the most beautiful town in the country and our beloved country is the most beautiful country in the world. So very privileged,” she says.

Buitendag announced her retirement from professional surfing, saying the Olympics was a perfect platform to bow out from. She says her life’s ambitions changed drastically after the death of her father five years ago, and her mother’s battle with cancer.

Buitendag added that she will never stop rushing towards salt water at every opportunity, as the sea is her therapy. She says she hopes her achievement will encourage more surfing events in Victoria Bay.

“I’ve been here for the last 15 years of my life and I surfed this coast up and down. It compares to the best waves in the world and it’s such a pity that no one knows it yet. I must be careful what I say because then the waves are gonna get crowded. I’m just so privileged to grow up here and the lifestyle I’ve led up until this point,” adds Buitendag.

Buitendag will now focus her energy on assisting the Christian NGO, Life Community Services, which is planning to build a primary school next year.

Hamilton claims pole position for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix
31 July 2021, 6:19 PM

Seven-time Formula One world champion, Lewis Hamilton, put his Mercedes on pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix with teammate Valtteri Bottas alongside on the front row. Red Bull’s championship leader, Max Verstappen, qualified third on the grid.

After all the drivers’ first runs in Q3, it was Mercedes that had the advantage. Hamilton was on provisional pole, after setting a lap time of 1 minute 15.419 seconds, ahead of Bottas in second and Verstappen in third.

In a repeat of last year’s success at the Hungaroring, the Brit had done enough to claim pole position.

Max Verstappen will start the race in P3 for Red Bull, with his team mate Sergio Perez next to him in P4 on row two.

The qualifying was briefly stopped when Ferrari’s Carlo Sainz crashed into the barrier just six minutes before Q2 ended.

Sergio Perez was the driver to miss out on a top-three finish but he will join Verstappen on the second-row of the starting grid for Sunday’s race.

Pierre Gasly qualified in fifth, Lando Norris in sixth and Charles Leclerc in seventh.

It was the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in eighth and ninth respectively, with Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10.

EC widow, children and grandson die in house fire, foul play suspected
31 July 2021, 4:47 PM

A 46-year-old widow, her three children and grandson have died at KwaTshaphile Village in Ngcobo, in the Eastern Cape, after their house was allegedly set alight.

Neighbours say they heard screams in the early hours of Saturday and when they went to investigate they found the house on fire. All five victims were burnt beyond recognition.

The incident has shaken the whole KwaTshaphile village. The victims’ family is in agony. They say this is not the first time the 46-year-old woman has been attacked.

“We are heartbroken as the family. There’s also a disabled child among the deceased. In 2019, the woman’s hut was burnt down. The suspects were known and they were made to rebuild the house. Another incident happened in June this year. They found poured petrol around the rondavel and set it alight but the fire burnt out,” explains family spokesperson, Chris Mshotana.

The provincial government has condemned the incident.

“This is wrong. I’m sure it’s a man who did this. We need to work together with communities to ensure perpetrators are brought to book,” says Eastern Cape premier, Oscar Mabuyane.

Police spokesperson, Thembinkosi Kinana, says officers have opened a murder case and no one has yet been arrested.

“It is alleged that the house caught a blaze and the family had difficulties escaping, as the house had burglar doors. All those who were inside the house were burnt beyond recognition. Circumstances surrounding the incident are it known at this stage,” Kinana says.

The killing of women is rife in the Ngcobo area. In 2016, a 42-year-old man attacked and stabbed to death his two aunts, accusing them of witchcraft.

In 2015, an elderly woman with her daughter and grandson were hacked to death inside their house at Ndlunkulu Village.

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