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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A a local health official takes a throat coronavirus swab test in a Mamelodi township, east of Pretoria, South Africa, on Jan. 20. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

South Africa stopped the distribution of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on Sunday, after researchers found that the vaccine "provides minimal protection" against infection from the new strain first identified in the country, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: A halted vaccine rollout is a huge setback for South Africa as it struggles to curb the spread of the virus and its variant and the country approaches 50,000 deaths.

  • The variant has concerned experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, since preliminary findings suggest the strain could interfere with monoclonal antibodies.
  • 1 million doses arrived in the country last week, according to the New York Times.

What they found: Researchers from Oxford and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa found that AztraZeneca's vaccine "provides minimal protection" against infection from the new variant, Oxford said in a press release on Sunday. The analysis of roughly 2,000 adults not yet been peer-reviewed.

What to watch: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in an online briefing that the government would not proceed until scientists advised them on the best next steps, per Reuters.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Feb 7, 2021 - Sports

How the NFL countered COVID-19

Fireworks in Tampa Bay ahead of the Super Bowl. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The NFL's giant COVID-19 experiment ends Sunday with the improbable feat of an on-time Super Bowl, capping a season with no canceled games.

Why it matters: The season suggests that with the right resources, safety measures and cooperation — all of which have been lacking in the general U.S. response — life can go on during the pandemic without uncontrolled spread of the virus. 

Mike Allen, author of AM
20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."