COVID-19: Dalai Lama, Buhari receive vaccine; northern France in lockdown

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, joined other world leaders in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday.

The 14th and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 85, was given a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine early in the morning at Zonal Hospital, Dharamshala, despite earlier plans to vaccinate him and members of his staff at his residence at McLeodganj, India, Hindustan Times reported.

“His Holiness said he would take the injection at the place where the common people were being inoculated,” Kangara Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Prajapati told the Times. “It was his decision. We were arranging to vaccinate him at his home.”

In a video message obtained by the news organization, the Dalai Lama encouraged others to get the shot.

“This injection is very helpful,” he said in the video message. “Others should also take it for greater benefit.”

The spiritual leader arrived at the hospital in a motorcade with followers lining the streets to catch a glimpse of him and seek his blessings, according to the Indian daily newspaper.

The Dalai Lama has lived in McLeodganj since fleeing Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese occupation.

India has reported more than 11 million cases and 157,656 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University global tracker.

About 1.1% of India’s population has received a first dose of vaccine, according to Bloomberg data from its COVID-19 tracker.

The Dalai Lama is among other world leaders who have received the vaccine, including Queen Elizabeth II, U.S. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Saturday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received their first shots of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, The Guardian reported. The vaccinations come a day after Nigeria started vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers at the National Hospital in Abuja.

Nigeria has reported 158,042 COVID-19 cases and 1,954 deaths, according to the global tracker.

The Bloomberg COVID-19 tracker has yet to track the percent of population vaccinated in Nigeria.

In France, a weekend lockdown in the Pas-de-Calais area of northern France began Saturday. It will continue through the weekend in addition to a national curfew in place. Under the new lockdown, public consumption of alcohol and loud music is banned and non-essential shops were closed.

French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly announced Friday that four military hospitals will participate in an effort this weekend to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates.

As of March 15, pharmacies will also be allowed to start vaccinating people over age 50 who show additional health risks, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told RFI.

On Thursday, Castex also called on authorities in a weekly press briefing to take steps to facilitate a lockdown, including banning alcohol sales and closing potential meeting places, RFI reported.

France has had over 3.9 million COVID-19 cases and 88,597 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the global tracker.

In France, 5.2% of the population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 tracker.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected more than 116 million people and killed over 2.5 million people, the tracker shows.

The United States has the most COVID-19 cases and most deaths worldwide at over 28.9 million cases and over half a million deaths, according to the global tracker. Brazil has the third-highest number of cases at over 10.8 million and the second-highest number of deaths worldwide at 262,700.

In the United States 17.3% of the population has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and in Brazil, 3.8% of the population has received first dose, according to Bloomberg’s tracker.

More than 291 million does of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across 111 countries, according to Bloomberg data. Seychelles in East Africa and Israel lead the world in their vaccination rates with over half of their populations having received a first dose.



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