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The Latest: Joint venture aims to make 1B doses for Chinese

BEIJING — A Chinese pharmaceutical company and BioNTech SE, the co-developer of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, are setting up a joint venture in China with the capacity to manufacture up to 1 billion doses of the shot to protect against COVID-19.

Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. said in a stock filing on Sunday night that the companies will invest up to $100 million each to set up the venture.

The vaccine has yet to be approved in mainland China, where regulations require an in-country clinical trial. BioNTech’s CEO has said the company expects the shot to be approved in July.

A technician prepares a Pfizer vaccine in the pharmacy area of the newly opened COVID-19 Vaccination Centre in Sydney, Australia, Monday, May 10, 2021. (James GourleyPool Photo via AP)

The joint venture aims to supply shots for the Chinese population, but no timing was given on when the shots would be distributed.

China has based its vaccination campaign on domestically produced vaccines with a goal of vaccinating 560 million of the country’s 1.4 billion people by mid-June. Most of its vaccines require two doses, but China hasn’t broken down its vaccination figures by how many have received one or both doses.

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— In coastal Senegal, beginning of the fishing season renews hope for industry ravaged by COVID-19

— While wealthier nations stockpile vaccines, poorest countries yet to receive any, even for medical staff on front lines

— Joyful reunions among vaccinated parents and children marked this year’s Mother’s Day

— Concert advocating vaccine equity pulls in $302 million, exceeding its goal

Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka authorities are converting garment factories and other buildings for facilities to treat COVID-19 patients amid fears existing hospitals may run out of capacity.

Military troops are completing the transformation of a garment factory in Seeduwa, on the outskirt of the capital Colombo, to create the island’s biggest COVID-19 hospital, with a capacity of 1,200 beds.

Another garment factory in Yakkala, about 40 kilometers from Colombo, is being converted to a treatment center with a 2,000-bed capacity.

Armed forces are acquiring buildings in all parts of the country and converting them to hospitals to increase capacity, said army commander Gen. Shavendra Silva, head of the country's COVID-19 operations center.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a sharp surge in infections, reporting 2,000 new cases for the first time on Monday.

Sri Lanka has counted 125,905 coronavirus infections with 801 fatalities. Besides, 20,642 patients are being treated at hospitals and treatment centers.

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the decision from the European Union not to renew its order for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Macron said the EU policy is aiming at “responding in particular to the variants... We see that some other vaccines are more efficient.”

The bloc’s Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, said Sunday the EU Commission has not ordered AstraZeneca shots for after June. Two weeks ago, the EU launched legal proceedings against the pharmaceutical group for allegedly failing to respect the terms of its contract.

South Africa halted earlier this year the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after preliminary data indicated it may be only minimally effective against the variant which is dominant in the country.

In France, the variant first identified in Britain has become largely dominant and the South African variant represents only a small percentage of the virus detected in the country.

Across the Channel, Britain has made the AstraZeneca vaccine the centerpiece of its successful vaccination campaign.