Flash Briefing: SA protests turn deadly; Google fined €500m; another black mark for J&J’s vaccine
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Flash Briefing: SA protests turn deadly; Google fined €500m; another black mark for J&J’s vaccine

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  • Deadly protests that erupted in South Africa following former President Jacob Zuma’s jailing showed no signs of letting up, even as the authorities pledged to clamp down on the violence. Hundreds of stores in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, which account for about half the nation’s economic output, were looted and major highways have been blocked. The government says 10 people have died. KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala put the toll at 26 in his province alone and his Gauteng counterpart David Makhura said there’d been 19 fatalities in his jurisdiction, including 10 that occurred during a stampede. More than 2,500 soldiers have been deployed to Gauteng and KZN to quell violent looting, but the defence minister has stated that SA is not yet considering a state of emergency. Dubbed Operation PROSPER, the deployment will be from 12 July to 12 October. 
  • South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination program has been partially halted as violent protests rage in two key provinces. State-administered inoculations have been suspended in KZN and parts of Gauteng, said Nicholas Crisp, a consultant to the National Health Department who is helping oversee the program. The disruption is the latest blow to a rollout that’s been criticised for its late start and remains at a nascent stage.
  • French authorities fined Google €500m after the search giant failed to follow an order to reach a fair deal with publishers to use their news content on its platform. According to France’s national competition regulator, the Alphabet unit ignored a 2020 decision to negotiate in good faith for displaying snippets of articles on its Google News service. The fine is the second-biggest antitrust penalty in France for a single company.
  • Officials at the US Food and Drug Administration warned of a rare but serious neurological disorder linked to Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine. 100 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome have been reported among people who received J&J’s vaccine, the FDA said in a statement. Health authorities continue to stress that J&J’s vaccine is safe, and that its benefits outweigh the risks. The warning is another black mark for J&J’s shot, which has also been connected to cases of rare but serious blood clots.

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