results of a clinical trial suggested that the vaccine from AstraZeneca offered little protection from mild or moderate infections caused by the Beta variant that was circulating in South Africa.

Weeks later, Johnson & Johnson and the government signed a contract for 11 million doses. South Africa ordered another 20 million doses in April. That would be enough to vaccinate about half the country.

South Africa agreed to pay $10 per dose for the 11 million shots, according to the contract. That was the same price that the United Statespaid and slightly more than the $8.50 that the European Commission agreed to pay. The South African contract prohibited the government from banning exports of the vaccine, citing the need for doses to “move freely across national borders.”

introduced export controls this year to conserve scarce supplies. India halted exports produced by the Serum Institute, which was supposed to be a major vaccine supplier to poor countries. In the United States, officials said they didn’t ban exports, but they didn’t need to. The combination of the extensive vaccine production on American soil and the high prices the U.S. government was willing to pay meant that companies made the delivery of shots for Americans a priority.

Other benefits for Johnson & Johnson were embedded in the South African contract.

While such contracts typically protect companies from lawsuits brought by individuals, this one shielded Johnson & Johnson from suits by a wider range of parties, including the government. It also imposed an unusually high burden on potential litigants to show that any injuries caused by the vaccine were the direct result of company representatives engaging in deliberate misconduct or failing to follow manufacturing best practices.

“The upshot is that you have moved almost all of the risk of something being wrong with the vaccine to the government,” said Sam Halabi, a health law expert at Georgetown University who reviewed sections of the South African contract at the request of The Times.

Mr. Halabi said the contract’s terms appeared more favorable to the pharmaceutical company than other Covid vaccine contracts he had seen. South African officials have said Pfizer, too, sought aggressive legal protections.

The contract said Johnson & Johnson would aim to deliver 2.8 million doses to South Africa by the end of June, another 4.1 million doses by the end of September and another 4.1 million doses by the end of December. (The government expects the 20 million additional doses to be delivered by the end of this year, Mr. Maja said.)

The company has so far fallen far short of those goals. As of the end of June, South Africa had received only about 1.5 million of the doses from its order. The small number of doses that have been delivered to the African Union were on schedule.

The difficulties in procuring doses have revealed the limits of fill-and-finish sites, which leave countries dependent on vaccines from places like the European Union or the United States, said Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who until March was co-chairman of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid.

“Ultimately,” he said, “the solution to our problem has to be in making our own vaccines.”

Lynsey Chutel and Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting.

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For Many Workers, Change in Mask Policy Is a Nightmare

“Retailers were asking and requiring you to wear masks,” said Willy Solis, a shopper for the delivery app Shipt in Denton, Texas, who works in stores like Target, Kroger and CVS. “A large majority of people were still doing the right thing and wearing them.”

Since the C.D.C. announcement, however, “it’s been a complete shift,” Mr. Solis said. Denton, like Yorktown, sits in a county that supported former President Donald J. Trump by a single-digit margin in the November election.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 97 percent of Democrats said in a March poll that they wore a mask “at least most of the time” when they might be in contact with people outside their homes, and a similar portion of Democrats said they believed masks limit the spread of coronavirus.

That compared with only 71 percent of Republicans who said they wore a mask outside the home at least most of the time, and just half said they thought masks were effective.

That suggests that a significant number of Republicans have worn masks only to comply with rules, not because they believed it was important, said Ashley Kirzinger, the Kaiser foundation’s associate director for public opinion and survey research. She cited polling showing that Republicans were also less likely to be vaccinated.

Matt Kennon, a room-service server at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss., said that before the C.D.C. relaxed its recommendations, the resort’s policy was that all guests must wear masks in common areas unless they were eating, drinking or smoking, and that it was strictly enforced.

“There were several security checkpoints around the place where we’d have someone from security let them know, ‘Please put on a mask,’” said Mr. Kennon, a shop steward with his union, UNITE HERE. “There were stations with disposable masks for guests to wear in case they didn’t have one.”

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Stephen Colbert’s late-night show will resume filming soon before a vaccinated live audience.

Stephen Colbert’s late-night talk show will return to filming in front of a studio audience on June 14, CBS said on Monday.

About 400 audience members will be allowed in the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway in Manhattan, provided they can show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus, such as through the Excelsior Pass issued by New York State or an original physical vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There will be no capacity restrictions, and masks will be optional.

CBS said that staff and crew members will be tested for the virus before starting work and will be screened daily for symptoms, monitored by a Covid-19 compliance officer. The network said the plan comports with New York State guidelines.

The show’s changes will come just a few months before Broadway shows are expected to return, and about a month after baseball stadiums in New York began designating separate seating sections for people who have been vaccinated and those who have not.

relaxed the state’s capacity restrictions, allowing businesses to serve as many patrons as they like as long as there is enough space for people to adequately socially distance. He also ended the mask mandate for vaccinated people indoors and outdoors, though individual businesses are allowed to have stricter mask policies.

The pandemic put a stop to many late-night talk shows for a time in mid-March 2020, when New York and Los Angeles, where many of them are produced, introduced strict social distancing and quarantine guidelines.

Since then, the shows have had to get creative, interviewing guests by video conference and filming in empty studios or from the hosts’ homes, with family members sometimes serving on the crew.

When Mr. Colbert began doing his show from home, the first episode had him delivering the monologue from his bathtub. At the time, Mr. Colbert and the network changed the name from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to “A Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” to reflect the show’s straitened circumstances. The name will return to normal once the audience returns.

impromptu reaction to the Jan. 6 Capitol assault.

During a recent interview on “Fresh Air,” Mr. Colbert said that working without an audience created challenges that only a crowd could ameliorate.

“I’m much more likely to mess up and have to retake something, lose the rhythm of a joke, or even just misread the prompter without an audience there, because there’s some vital performance adrenaline spark that’s missing that the audience provides,” Mr. Colbert said. “And so my wife and my kids have seen me absolutely shank monologues over and over again. And it’s very humbling for them to realize that I’m not that good at this.”

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Texas Governor Will Prohibit Local Mask Mandates

Most government entities in Texas will soon be prohibited from requiring people to wear masks, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday, days after federal health officials announced new guidance that encourages people who have been completely vaccinated to forego masks in most situations.

The executive order Mr. Abbott announced on Tuesday would prevent counties, cities, public health authorities and local government officials from requiring people to wear masks beginning on Friday. Violators could be fined $1,000.

Hospitals owned or operated by the government, state-supported living centers and jails and other criminal justice facilities are exempt from the order. Schools can continue their current mask policies until June 4, the end of the school year in some Texas districts, after which they will not be allowed to compel anyone to wear a mask. The C.D.C. also recommended that masks remain universally in use in K-12 schools until the end of the current school year.

Only a third of Texans are fully vaccinated, below the U.S. average of 37 percent, according to a New York Times database. No Covid-19 vaccines have been authorized yet for children under 12.

rescinded a statewide mask mandate and capacity restrictions on March 10, the new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were less of a shock than they were in other states, where officials and business leaders scrambled to figure out how to safely accommodate residents and customers. Many states, and chains like Target, CVS and Best Buy, have since relaxed their mask mandates for vaccinated people.

Mr. Abbott’s mask rollback in March invigorated some individuals and business owners and alarmed others. But some local leaders chose to initially keep mask requirements in place, including the mayors of Texas’s biggest cities — Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas — all of which are in counties won by President Biden.

Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, a Democrat, called the governor’s new order “a clear overreach,” and added, “His power is not absolute.”

Going forward, Mr. Turner said in a statement, “If you are a city employee or entering a city facility and you have not been fully vaccinated, you should wear your mask. We are not mandating it, but I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family and your co-workers.”

Mayor Steve Adler of Austin and Travis County Judge Andy Brown, both Democrats, said in a statement that in the coming days, “we will be speaking with parts of our community most impacted by the governor’s order, including schools and nursing homes. Our community’s safety will continue to be our highest priority.”

New York Times database.

“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement announcing the order. “We can continue to mitigate Covid-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”

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U.S. to Donate 20 Million Doses for Global Vaccination Effort

The United States will send at least 20 million coronavirus vaccine doses in June to countries struggling against the pandemic, answering calls that the Biden administration isn’t doing enough to help countries that face dire shortages of vaccines and other treatments.

President Biden said on Monday that those 20 million doses, of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, would be in addition to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which the U.S. plans to donate once the vaccine is cleared for use by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not clear exactly how long it will take the F.D.A. to authorize AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

“We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control,” Mr. Biden said during a news conference at the White House. “No ocean’s wide enough, no wall is high enough, to keep us safe.”

Mr. Biden’s announcement on Monday afternoon came not long after a World Health Organization news conference at which the director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that countries with high vaccination rates had to do more to help countries that were being hit hard by the coronavirus, or the entire world would be imperiled.

Britain, which have seen a decline in cases and deaths in recent weeks, relaxed restrictions as the virus battered India and other Asian countries.

Variants like B.1.617, first discovered in India and recently designated a variant of concern by the W.H.O., are contributing to the spread of infections and worry many researchers.

Dr. Tedros called for well-supplied nations to send more of their vaccine supplies and allocations to harder-hit countries, and for vaccine developers and manufacturers to hasten delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to Covax, an international initiative dedicated to equitable distribution of the vaccine, noting an appeal by Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director.

Ms. Fore released a statement on Monday saying that Covax would soon complete delivering 65 million doses, but that it should have delivered at least 170 million and that the effort could be short by as much as 190 million doses by the time Group of 7 leaders gather in England in June.

convincing the remaining unvaccinated people to get the shot.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance to allow people who have been vaccinated to forgo their masks indoors and outdoors in many situations. The decision caused confusion in states and individuals, some who were eager to return to a semblance of normalcy and others who said they planned to stay masked indefinitely.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of C.D.C., said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the agency’s suggestions were “not permission to shed masks for everybody, everywhere.”

On Monday, Dr. Tedros’s message was more straightforward.

“No one is safe until we are all safe,” he said.

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New York Will Adopt C.D.C. Guidelines on Masks for the Vaccinated

The governor of New York said Monday that the state will lift some mask requirements in accordance with the new mask guidance for vaccinated people that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

“No masks, no social distancing,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, said of the policy that will go into effect for vaccinated people on Wednesday. Masks will still be required in nursing homes, schools, health care facilities and on public transit. Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask, he said in a news conference at Radio City Music Hall in Midtown Manhattan.

The move dovetails with the previously scheduled lifting of most capacity restrictions at offices, museums, restaurants and stores on Wednesday. It was significant, however, given the longstanding restrictions imposed on one of the hardest hit cities in the United States.

In addition, the city’s subway system returned to 24-hour service on Monday. There has been more than one year of overnight closings during the coronavirus pandemic to provide more time to clean and disinfect trains, stations and equipment. It was the longest planned shutdown since the subway opened in 1904.

no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people to mask or maintain social distance in many settings. The change set off public confusion and drew objections from some local officials and labor unions, including the country’s largest union of registered nurses. A number of major U.S. retailers have already lifted mask requirements, essentially turning to an honor system that relies on unvaccinated people to keep their masks on in public.

Businesses in New York can still set individual policies and some will still require masks.

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Unvaccinated People Are Most at Risk by Unmasking, C.D.C. Director Says

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, facing blowback over the agency’s new liberalized mask guidelines, offered a stark reassurance on Sunday: Only unvaccinated people are at risk if they take off their masks.

“If you are vaccinated, we are saying you are safe, you can take up your mask and you are not at risk of severe disease or hospitalization from Covid-19,” the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If you are not vaccinated, you are not safe. Please go get vaccinated or continue to wear your mask.”

The guidance the C.D.C. issued on Thursday said that it was no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people to mask or maintain social distance in many settings. The change set off days of public confusion and drew objections from some local officials and labor unions, including the country’s largest union of registered nurses. A number of major U.S. retailers have already lifted mask requirements, essentially turning to an honor system that relies on unvaccinated people to keep their masks on in public.

In her round of the Sunday news shows on major networks, Dr. Walenksy revealed a subtle but marked shift in her agency’s emphasis from community to individual protection. She acknowledged on Fox that “for 16 months, we’ve been telling people to be cautious, be careful, cases are going up” and made clear that the C.D.C.’s new bottom line is that individuals could make their own choices.

should keep their faces covered.

“This was not permission to shed masks for everybody everywhere,” Dr. Walensky said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” but about “individual assessment of your risk.”

On a practical level, jurisdictions, including communities, schools and employers, look to the C.D.C., the nation’s top public health agency, for guidance as they set policy. The new recommendations create the possibility that there will be an increasing number of unmasked people in public venues with no certainty that they have the benefit of vaccination.

In her TV appearances, Dr. Walensky rejected the idea that pressure from a public and elected officials frustrated by more than a year of pandemic restrictions had prompted the new guidance, saying that it stemmed entirely from evolving science that shows the vaccines protect not just against getting severely ill from the coronavirus and its variants but also against spreading them.

The unvarnished message underscored the C.D.C.’s urgency to get the vaccine to more people. “Please go get vaccinated or continue to wear your mask,” Dr. Walensky said on Fox. She even dipped into details about how people can find where to get vaccinated, turning the discussion into a kind of public service message.

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Nurses’ Union Condemns C.D.C.’s New Mask Advice

The nation’s largest union of registered nurses condemned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday for lifting mask recommendations for vaccinated people and called on the agency to “do the right thing” and revise its guidance.

Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and executive director of the union, National Nurses United, said the most recent guidance, which was issued on Thursday and rolled back mask recommendations and other precautions for those who are fully vaccinated, “is not based on science.” Ms. Castillo said the new guidance would jeopardize the health of frontline workers and the general public and would disproportionately harm people of color.

“This is a huge blow to our efforts at confronting this virus and the pandemic,” said Ms. Castillo, whose union represents 170,000 nurses nationwide. Although vaccination is vitally important to stopping the virus’s spread, she noted that millions of Americans still had not been vaccinated.

“The mask is another lifesaving layer of protection for workers,” she said.

The union also criticized the C.D.C. for other actions, including its decision to stop monitoring breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals and to investigate such cases only if they result in a hospitalization or death. The agency announced that, as of May 1, it would no longer track or investigate all infections among vaccinated people so that it could “maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance.”

The nurses said that meant the C.D.C. would not gather the data necessary to understand whether vaccines prevent mild and asymptomatic infections, how long vaccine protection lasts and what role variants play in breakthrough infections.

The union also called on the agency, which recently recognized that the virus could be transmitted through aerosolized particles, to update its guidance about ventilation and respiratory protection accordingly. The union also called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to immediately issue emergency temporary standards on infectious diseases to protect people in the workplace.

The C.D.C. did not immediately respond to the criticisms. Introducing the new recommendations on Thursday, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, cited two recent scientific findings as significant factors: Few vaccinated people become infected with the virus, and transmission seems rarer still; and the vaccines appear to be effective against all known variants of the coronavirus.

The union noted that more than 35,000 new cases of coronavirus were being reported each day and that more than 600 people were dying each day. “Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the C.D.C. has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century,” Ms. Castillo said.

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Starbucks and Other Businesses Relax Mask Policies

Starbucks has joined a growing list of retailers, restaurants and theme parks that will now allow fully vaccinated customers to go mask free following new coronavirus safety guidance from the federal government.

The company said in a statement that “facial coverings will be optional for vaccinated customers” as of May 17, where allowed by local regulations.

[Answers to your questions about vaccines and masks at work]

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took many businesses by surprise when it said that people who are vaccinated could go maskless in most places, including indoors. (The policies do not apply to people traveling by bus, plane, train or other kinds of public transportation.) For businesses, the announcement was complicated by the fact that C.D.C. guidance does not override state and local rules. But in a matter of days, several major companies have moved to relax mask requirements. Businesses for the most part have not said they would require customers to show proof that they have been vaccinated.

Here’s the latest on companies that are changing their mask policies.

Costco, which has more than 500 U.S. stores, said it would allow fully vaccinated customers to go mask-free where state and local guidance allows. The retailer said it would “not require proof of vaccination” but would ask for its customers’ “responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy.”

Publix, which has 1,270 grocery stores in the Southeast, said “face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated individuals inside Publix stores” subject to local regulations.

Trader Joe’s, which operates 517 grocery stores across the country, said that customers who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks in its stores. It will not require proof of vaccination “as we trust our customers to follow C.D.C. guidelines,” a spokeswoman, Kenya Friend-Daniel, said in an email. Masks are still required for store employees.

Walmart said that vaccinated customers are allowed to go maskless starting May 18 in areas that don’t have stricter mandates. A spokesman for the company, which operates more than 4,000 Walmart and nearly 600 Sam’s Club stores in the United States, said it expects its customers to abide by the honor system. Employees can also go mask-free by answering “yes” to a vaccination question that is part of a daily health assessment.

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida said that it was no longer requiring visitors to wear masks in most outdoor areas as of this weekend, though masks are still required in indoor locations. Disneyland in California continues to require masks indoors and out because of state mandates. Disney’s chief executive, Bob Chapek, said on an earnings call Thursday that the company had begun to increase capacity and that the C.D.C.’s new guidance “is very big news for us, particularly if anybody’s been in Florida in the middle of summer with a mask on.” About 150 million people visited Disney’s parks in 2019.

Hershey Park in Pennsylvania said it would no longer require masks nor social distancing for fully vaccinated guests. The theme park, which drew 3.4 million visitors in 2019, said it would rely on its guests to “accurately follow the guidelines based on their vaccination status.”

Universal Orlando Resort said masks are no longer required when outdoors but still must be used in “all indoor locations.” Its theme park in California will still require masks both outside and inside because of the state rules.

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