Heathrow Airport has had a subway link for decades. When the Elizabeth line’s next phase is opened in the fall, passengers will be able to travel from Heathrow to the banks at Canary Wharf in East London in 40 minutes; that is a prime selling point for a city desperate to hold on to its status as financial mecca after Brexit. All told, the line has 10 entirely new stations, 42 miles of tunnels and crosses under the Thames three times.

“We’re jealous, it’s fair to say,” said Danny Pearlstein, the policy director for Riders Alliance, a transportation advocacy group in New York. “Imagining a new, full-length underground line here is not something anyone is doing. The Second Avenue subway, which people have been talking about for 100 years, has three stations.”

To be fair, Transport for London is not without its problems. It has shelved plans to build a north-south counterpart to the Elizabeth line, not to mention an extension to the Bakerloo tube line, because of a lack of funding. Still reeling from a near-total loss of riders during pandemic lockdowns, the system faces many of the same financial woes as New York’s subway.

Though ridership has recovered from a nadir of 5 percent, it is still at only 70 percent of prepandemic levels. Transport for London is also heavily dependent on ticket fares to cover its costs, more so than the New York subway, which gets state subsidies, as well as funds from bridge and tunnel tolls.

“My other obsession is sorting out the finances,” Mr. Byford said. “One way is to wean us away from dependence on fares.”

He is somewhat vague about how to do that, and it is clear that Transport for London will depend on additional government handouts to get back on sound financial footing. That is why the opening of the Elizabeth line is so important to London: It makes a powerful case for public transportation at a time when people are questioning how many workers will ever return to their offices.

Mr. Byford lays out the case with the practiced cadence of a stump speech. The new line will increase the capacity of the system by 10 percent. Its spacious coaches are well suited to a world in which people are used to social distancing. It will revitalize economically blighted towns east of the city, while making central London accessible to people who live in far-flung towns to the east and west.

While Mr. Byford does not expect ridership ever to return completely, he thinks 90 percent is attainable. If office buildings remain underpopulated, London could develop like Paris, with more residential neighborhoods downtown. (The Elizabeth line bears a distinct resemblance to the high-speed RER system in Paris.) The line, he says, is an insurance policy against the “siren voices of doom” about Brexit.

At times, Mr. Byford slips perilously close to a real estate agent’s patter. “These super-high-tech stations simply ooze quality,” he said. But emerging from Liverpool Street, with its spectacular, rippling, pinstriped ceiling, it is hard to argue with his basic assertion: “This is a game changer.”

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Amid Coups and Covid, Africa Focuses on What’s Most Important: Soccer

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — She had watched some of the matches secretly, volume turned down low so that nobody would report her. She had seen the threats, and knew that she could be kidnapped or killed for watching the African soccer tournament that her country, Cameroon, was hosting.

But she was fed up with containing her excitement each time Cameroon scored, so on Wednesday, Ruth, who lives in a region at war where secessionist rebels have forbidden watching the games, secretly traveled to the capital, Yaoundé, to support her team in person.

“I’d love to scream, if it’s possible,” she said on Thursday, after safely reaching Yaoundé, while getting ready for the big game. “I decided to take the risk.”

African soccer is nearing the end of what everyone agrees has been a magnificent month. The 52 games in this year’s much-delayed Africa Cup of Nations tournament have brought some respite for countries going through major political upheaval or war, and those weathering the disruption and hardship wrought by Covid.

coup last week in Burkina Faso, Burkinabe soldiers back home danced with joy. When Senegal then beat Burkina Faso in the semifinal on Wednesday night, Dakar’s streets were filled with cars honking and flags waving. Online, after every match, thousands of people flock to Twitter Spaces to jointly dissect what happened.

a harsh crackdown. Human rights abuses by the military helped fuel a fully-fledged armed struggle by English-speaking fighters known as Amba boys, after Ambazonia, the name they have given their would-be state.

The separatists have warned people there not to watch Afcon, as the soccer tournament is known, and certainly not to support Cameroon. But many anglophones like Ruth — a government worker who asked to be identified by only her first name to protect her from retribution — have defied the risk and have traveled to majority francophone cities to attend matches.

“We may not be a very united nation, but I think this one thing brings us together,” Ruth said, adding that it was common knowledge that even as they threatened, kidnapped and tortured other spectators, the Amba fighters were watching the tournament in their camps.

Afcon is special. Players who are relatively unknown outside their countries’ borders play alongside multimillionaire stars from the world’s most elite teams who take time off to represent their countries, right in the middle of the European season.

overthrew their government.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Sambo Diallo, a fan standing with his arms out in a Yaoundé hotel bursting with fans from Burkina Faso, as a friend painted his entire head, face and torso with his country’s flag. “We weren’t happy, but we had to be brave.”

Despite the anxiety about their families at home, Burkina Faso’s players won that quarterfinal. Still on a high, a green bus full of cheering Burkina Faso fans who had followed their squad around the country rolled into Yaoundé on Wednesday afternoon. Their team was about to meet Senegal in the semis.

Soccer had obviously brought the Senegalese team together, the jewel in its crown one of the biggest stars on the continent, Sadio Mané, who also plays for Liverpool.

eight people died in a stampede. But she got stuck in heavy traffic on her way, and could not make it in time for kickoff. So she ducked into a bar and watched the match there.

Cameroon lost, 3-1, on penalty kicks. “It was still worth it because I could watch with excited fans,” she said.

And she screamed and shouted a lot.

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Coronavirus Surges in Kisumu, Kenya

KISUMU, Kenya — Before Kenya’s president and other leaders arrived in late May to mark a major public holiday, health officials in Kisumu on Lake Victoria saw disaster brewing. Coronavirus infections were spiking, hospital isolation units were filling up and the highly contagious Delta variant had been found in Kenya for the first time — in Kisumu County.

Dr. Boaz Otieno Nyunya, the county executive for health and sanitation, said he and other health specialists argued and pleaded for the politicians to hold a virtual celebration and skip the mass, in-person events that can supercharge an outbreak. Just weeks earlier, huge political rallies had helped fuel the catastrophic Covid-19 wave in India, where the Delta variant first emerged and became dominant.

Their objections were waved away, the health officials said. President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, the former prime minister Raila Odinga and others descended on Kisumu, drawing large and mostly unmasked crowds who thronged the streets to watch their slow-moving motorcades through the city and gathered to hear them at marketplaces and parking lots.

turning away patients for lack of beds or oxygen, health officials say they fear a wave like the one that ripped through India in April and May could be looming over Kisumu.

“The India example is not lost to us,” Dr. Nyunya said.

Though data on infections and deaths is spotty, more than 23 percent of the people tested for the virus in Kisumu last week were positive — more than double the national rate. Kenya’s overall positivity rate is similar to that of the United States when the pandemic peaked there in January. But the Delta variant was still rare then, the American health system is far more robust than Kenya’s and the U.S. government was ramping up vaccination on a grand scale.

All of Africa is vulnerable, as the latest wave of the pandemic sweeps the continent, driven in part by more transmissible variants. Fewer than 1 percent of Africa’s people have been even partially vaccinated, by far the lowest rate for any continent.

“I think the greatest risk in Africa is to look at what happened in Italy earlier on and what happened in India and start thinking we are safe — to say it’s very far away from us and that we may not go the same way,” said Dr. Mark Nanyingi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Liverpool in Britain. He called the surge in western Kenya a “storm on the horizon.”

said. But experts say the true scale of the pandemic far exceeds reported figures in Africa, where testing and tracing remain a challenge for many countries, and many nations do not collect mortality data.

To forestall the ongoing crisis, Kenya’s Ministry of Health last week imposed a restriction on gatherings and extended a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Kisumu and more than a dozen surrounding counties. But the measures were too late for Dr. Nyunya, who said that thinking back on the deliberations — which involved the county governor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, a former national health minister — over the celebrations last month, “It makes you feel impotent.”

record cases and deaths, President Yoweri Museveni has imposed a strict 42-day lockdown. Just weeks ago, Rwanda hosted the Basketball Africa League and other big sporting events, raising the possibility for a full reopening. But after a spike in cases, the government introduced new lockdown measures on Monday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo — where the virus has claimed the lives of more than 5 percent of lawmakers ­— is grappling with a third wave as it falters in rolling out vaccines. South Africa, the continent’s worst-hit nation, has reported new infections doubling in just two weeks’ time, with the sharpest increases in major urban centers. Tunisia, where hospitals are full and oxygen supplies are low, is enduring a fourth wave.

“New, higher transmitting variants create a precarious situation in many countries that have weak health systems,” said Dr. Ngozi Erondu, a senior health scholar at the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University.

The W.H.O. attributes the surge in Africa to lack of vaccination, insufficient adherence to precautionary measures like mask wearing and social distancing and the Delta and other variants.

lament a lack of protective gear and health insurance.

“We are buying our own gloves and masks,” said Dr. Onyango Ndong’a, chairman of the local chapter of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union. “We are covering for government inadequacies. We are tired now. We are stretched.”

For now, families who have lost loved ones are adjusting to a new reality.

Edward Onditi, 33, lost both his brother and his mother to Covid-19 this month. He said he left Nairobi to come and assist his family after his brother, Herbert, whom he regarded as a best friend and mentor, fell ill.

For weeks, the family transported Herbert, 43, between three hospitals in two counties — a distance of 70 miles in total — so that he could get high-flow oxygen. On the day before Herbert died, Edward had fish, his brother’s favorite meal, delivered to his isolation ward and promised to take him on a holiday once he was out.

“I’m so touched,” his brother said in a text message sent on June 2.

Barely 12 hours later, he was gone.

A few days later, their mother, Naomi, who had been ailing, succumbed to complications from Covid-19, too.

“It’s one of the toughest moments of my life,” Mr. Onditi said on a recent afternoon, his eyes welling with tears. “Things are just not working. They are not adding up.”

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What Can and Can’t Be Learned From a Doctor in China Who Pioneered Masks

In late 1910, a deadly plague started spreading in the northeast reaches of China, reaching the large city of Harbin. Tens of thousands of people coughed up blood; their skin pruned and turned purple. They all died.

This outbreak sent the Qing government into a tailspin: They didn’t know what illness was causing these deaths, let alone how to control it. So they brought in one of the best trained doctors in Asia at the time, Dr. Wu Lien-Teh. After performing autopsies, Dr. Wu found Yersinia pestis, a bacterium similar to the one that had caused bubonic plague in the West. He recognized Manchuria’s plague as a respiratory disease and urged everyone, especially health care professionals and law enforcement, to wear masks.

Chinese authorities, heeding his call, coupled masking with stringent lockdowns enforced by the police. Four months after the doctor was summoned, the plague ended. Although often overlooked in Western countries, Dr. Wu is recognized in world history as a pioneer of public health, helping to change the course of a respiratory disease spread by droplets that could have devastated China in the early 20th century, and perhaps spread far beyond its borders.

While the Chinese of that era complied with these strategies, public health professionals in the United States and other Western countries have struggled to get people to listen to them during the Covid-19 pandemic. China, too, ran into challenges early on, but the country’s institutional memory from previous viral outbreaks helped turn the tide. And as many Americans abandon masking, push to restore normality in places where risks of infection remain high and hesitate to get vaccinated, some public health experts have looked to Dr. Wu’s success, seeking lessons on handling not only Covid, but also future epidemics.

masks became a political flash point in the United States and elsewhere during the Spanish flu pandemic, the idea of using them persisted in China, and gauze masks became an important tool in the political agenda of the Nationalist Party when it took over in 1928. Public health officials recommended all citizens wear gauze masks in public spaces during outbreaks of meningitis or cholera.

Kyle Legleiter, the senior director of policy advocacy at The Colorado Health Foundation.

Another factor that might have contributed to Dr. Wu’s success in China would be the reverence residents and officials had for him as a figure of authority, Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said.

In some ways, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser on Covid to President Biden and a prominent public health figure since the 1980s, served in a role similar to the one Dr. Wu played in China, Dr. Huang said. But, his message perhaps didn’t always get through because Americans are more polarized in their political identities and beliefs.

Dr. Legleiter added that public health messaging only penetrates if the public identifies with or trusts that figure of authority.

“An individual person is a stand-in for a broader set of institutions or systems that they’re speaking on the behalf of,” Dr. Legleiter said. Those who lean conservative, for instance, may put Dr. Fauci and other scientists in the category of “the elites.” As such, they’re more likely to flout public health policies that such authority figures promote, and comply with proclamations from individuals they identify with the most.

Others say that public health is intrinsically tied to the legitimacy of the state promoting it. At the turn of the 20th century, China was in distress, Dr. Hanson said. Dr. Wu helped bring China out of a tumultuous period, and the enforcement of public health measures gave the country more legitimacy.

Similarly, because the current pandemic has laid bare shortcomings in the public health systems in the United States, Britain and other Western countries, some experts believe it can be a catalyst for change.

“Since the mid-19th century, the West has generally seen its ability to control infectious disease as a marker of their civilizational superiority over much of the rest of the world,” Dr. White said. While China was seen as the sick man of the world then, some commentators in China now attempt to brand the United States with that label.

Ruth Rogaski, a medical historian at Vanderbilt University who specializes in studying the Qing dynasty and modern China, believes that the coronavirus crisis similarly offers an opportunity for reflection, which can be very motivating.

“Epidemics can serve as inflection points,” Dr. Rogaski said. “Opportunities to rethink, retool and even revolutionize approaches to health.”

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Vacunar a todo el mundo no es fácil. Esta es la razón

Más de 600 millones de personas en todo el mundo han sido vacunadas, al menos parcialmente, contra la COVID-19, lo que significa que más de 7000 millones aún están sin vacunar. Es un logro sorprendente a la sombra de un reto asombroso.

La mitad de todas las dosis suministradas hasta ahora han ido a parar a los brazos de personas de países donde vive una séptima parte de la población mundial, principalmente Estados Unidos y naciones europeas. Decenas de países, especialmente en África, apenas han comenzado sus campañas de inoculación.

tener todas las cartas en la mano.

Pero gran parte de la cuestión se reduce a la mera logística.

Inmunizar a la mayor parte de la humanidad en poco tiempo es una tarea monumental, nunca antes intentada, y que, según los expertos, el mundo no estaba preparado para afrontar. Señalan que las cosas ya se han movido con una velocidad sin precedentes: hace un año y medio, la enfermedad era desconocida, y las primeras autorizaciones de vacunas ocurrieron hace menos de seis meses.

Pero queda mucho camino por recorrer. He aquí un panorama de las razones del déficit de vacunas.

Sarah Schiffling, experta en cadenas de suministro farmacéutico y ayuda humanitaria de la Universidad John Moores de Liverpool, Gran Bretaña. “Estamos añadiendo esto al otro trabajo. Básicamente estamos duplicando la producción. Las cadenas de suministro de esta magnitud suelen tardar años en llevarse a cabo”.

El mayor fabricante de vacunas del mundo, el Serum Institute de India, fabrica la vacuna para la COVID-19 desarrollada por AstraZeneca y la Universidad de Oxford, y prevé una producción de mil millones de dosis este año, además de los aproximadamente 1500 millones de dosis que fabrica anualmente para otras enfermedades. Pero ha tardado meses en alcanzar ese ritmo.

Con una fuerte inversión de los gobiernos, las empresas han revisado las fábricas, han construido otras nuevas desde cero y han formado a nuevos empleados, un esfuerzo que comenzó el año pasado y que aún está lejos de completarse.

Covax, el esfuerzo global para suministrar vacunas al mundo en desarrollo a bajo costo o de forma gratuita.

Pero algunas de las promesas aún no se han cumplido. Y, en cualquier caso, suponen una pequeña fracción de lo que las naciones ricas han gastado en sí mismas, y una pequeña fracción de la necesidad mundial.

La campaña Covax también perdió algo de terreno cuando surgió la preocupación de que la inyección de AstraZeneca —que se esperaba que fuera la columna vertebral del esfuerzo— podría estar relacionada con efectos secundarios muy raros pero graves. Esto provocó cierta desconfianza en el público respecto a su uso.

compartir sus propios procesos patentados con el resto del mundo. Ningún productor de vacunas lo ha hecho voluntariamente, y ningún gobierno ha indicado que vaya a avanzar en esa dirección.

Dada la limitada capacidad de producción del mundo, y lo recientes que son estas vacunas, es posible que compartir las patentes no aumente significativamente la oferta en este momento. Pero más adelante, a medida que la capacidad se amplíe, podría convertirse en un factor importante.

La gestión de Joe Biden anunció apoyo financiero a una empresa india, Biological E, para que aumente la producción en masa de la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson destinada a personas de otras partes del mundo. Y el gobierno dijo esta semana que enviaría hasta 60 millones de dosis de la vacuna de AstraZeneca —que Estados Unidos compró, pero no está usando— a otros países.

Pero Estados Unidos sigue muy por detrás de China y Rusia en este tipo de “diplomacia de las vacunas”.

covid hace estragos en ese país a una escala que no se ha visto en ningún otro sitio. El propio gobierno de India ha prohibido las exportaciones de vacunas, lo que obstaculiza los esfuerzos de inmunización en África.

La semana pasada, el gobierno de Biden dijo que relajaría los controles de exportación para India.

controla una patente crucial sobre un proceso utilizado en la fabricación de vacunas, y sus Institutos Nacionales de Salud ayudaron a desarrollar la vacuna de Moderna.

Todo ello da a los gobiernos un enorme poder para obligar a las empresas a trabajar más allá de las fronteras, tanto corporativas como nacionales, pero se han mostrado reacios a utilizarlo. En Estados Unidos, esto ha empezado a cambiar desde que el presidente Biden asumió el cargo en enero.

“El gobierno tiene una enorme influencia, en particular sobre Moderna”, dijo Tinglong Dai, profesor asociado de la escuela de negocios de la Universidad Johns Hopkins, especializado en gestión de la salud.

Las patentes son un área en la que los gobiernos podrían ser más agresivos a la hora de utilizar su influencia. Pero a corto plazo, dijo Dai, lo que habría tenido un mayor impacto es que los funcionarios hubieran actuado antes y con más fuerza para insistir en que las empresas que desarrollan vacunas lleguen a acuerdos con sus competidores para aumentar la producción en masa.

Ese tipo de cooperación ha resultado ser esencial.

Varias empresas indias aceptaron fabricar la vacuna rusa Sputnik. Sanofi, que ya participa en la producción de las inoculaciones de Pfizer-BioNTech y Johnson & Johnson, llegó recientemente a un acuerdo con Moderna para trabajar también en su vacuna. Moderna ya tenía acuerdos con otras tres empresas europeas.

El gobierno de Biden presionó a Johnson & Johnson para que en marzo reclutara a su competidor, Merck, para producir su vacuna, y el gobierno se comprometió a destinar 105 millones de dólares para acondicionar una planta de Merck en Carolina del Norte con ese fin.

El expresidente Donald Trump se negó a invocar la Ley de Producción de Defensa para dar a los fabricantes de vacunas un acceso preferente a los materiales que necesitaban, un paso que Biden ha dado.

AstraZeneca como Johnson & Johnson, dos de las mayores empresas farmacéuticas del mundo, se encontraron con graves problemas de producción con sus vacunas para la COVID-19, lo que supone una lección de los retos que supone pasar de la nada a cientos de millones de dosis.

Además, las vacunas de Pfizer-BioNTech y Moderna se basan en un fragmento del código genético del coronavirus llamado ARN mensajero o ARNm. Hasta el año pasado, este proceso nunca se había utilizado en una vacuna de producción masiva. Requiere equipos, materiales, técnicas y conocimientos diferentes a los de las vacunas estándar.

Las vacunas de ARNm encierran el material genético en “nanopartículas lipídicas”, burbujas microscópicas de grasa. Pocas instalaciones en el mundo tienen experiencia en la producción en masa de algo comparable. Las vacunas también requieren temperaturas ultrafrías, lo que, según los expertos, limita su uso —al menos por ahora— a los países más ricos.

Muchas empresas farmacéuticas insisten en que podrían asumir esa producción, pero los expertos afirman que probablemente necesitarían mucho tiempo e inversión para prepararse, algo que Stéphane Bancel, director ejecutivo de Moderna, señaló en febrero en una audiencia del Parlamento Europeo.

Incluso contratando a empresas muy avanzadas para hacer el trabajo, dijo Bancel, Moderna tuvo que pasar meses esencialmente desbaratando sus instalaciones, reconstruyéndolas según las nuevas especificaciones con nuevos equipos, probando y volviendo a probar ese equipo y enseñando a la gente el proceso.

@perezpena • Facebook


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What Would It Take to Vaccinate the Whole World? Let’s Take a Look.

More than 600 million people worldwide have been at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19 — meaning that more than seven billion still have not. It is a striking achievement in the shadow of a staggering challenge.

Half of all the doses delivered so far have gone into the arms of people in countries with one-seventh of the world’s people, primarily the United States and European nations. Dozens of countries, particularly in Africa, have barely started their inoculation campaigns.

As wealthy countries envision the pandemic retreating within months — while poorer ones face the prospect of years of suffering — frustration has people around the world asking why more vaccine isn’t available.

Nationalism and government actions do much to help explain the stark inequity between the world’s haves and have-nots. So, for that matter, does government inaction. And the power of the pharmaceutical companies, which at times seem to hold all the cards, cannot be ignored.

said Sarah Schiffling, an expert on pharmaceutical supply chains and humanitarian relief at Liverpool John Moores University in Britain. “We’re adding this on top. We’re basically doubling output. Supply chains of this magnitude usually take years to accomplish.”

Covax, the global effort to supply vaccines to the developing world at little or no cost.

But some of the pledges have not been fulfilled as yet. And in any case they amount to a small fraction of what the wealthy nations have spent on themselves, and a small fraction of the global need.

The Covax campaign also lost some ground when concerns emerged that the AstraZeneca shot — which was expected to be the backbone of the effort — might be tied to very rare but serious side effects. That led to some public wariness over using it.

Many public health advocates have called for Western governments to force drug makers to share their own patented processes with the rest of the world. No vaccine producer has done so voluntarily, and no government has indicated that it will move in that direction.

mass production of the Johnson & Johnson shot for people in other parts of the world. And the administration said this week that it would send up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine — which the United States has bought but isn’t using — to other countries.

But the United States remains well behind China and Russia in such “vaccine diplomacy.”

The United States and other countries have also restricted exports of some vaccine-making materials, drawing intense criticism, especially from India, as Covid ravages that country on a scale not seen anywhere else. India’s own government has barred exports of finished vaccines, hampering immunization efforts in Africa.

This past week, the Biden administration said it would relax export controls for India.

controls a crucial patent on a process used in vaccine making, and its National Institutes of Health helped develop the Moderna vaccine.

All of that gives governments tremendous power to compel companies to work across boundaries, corporate as well as national, but they have been reluctant to use it. In the United States, that has started to change since President Biden took office in January.

“The government has huge leverage, the most over Moderna,” said Tinglong Dai, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University’s business school who specializes in health care management.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, have run into serious production problems with their Covid-19 vaccines — object lessons in the challenges of scaling up in a hurry from nothing to hundreds of millions of doses.

that process had never been used in a mass-produced vaccine. It calls for different equipment, materials, techniques and expertise than standard vaccines.

The mRNA vaccines encase the genetic material in “lipid nanoparticles,” microscopic bubbles of fat. Few facilities in the world have any experience mass-producing anything comparable. The vaccines also require ultracold temperatures, which experts say limits their use — at least for now — to wealthier countries.

Many pharmaceutical companies insist that they could take on that production, but experts say they would be likely to need considerable time and investment to prepare, a point that Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, made in February at a European Parliament hearing.

Even in contracting with highly advanced firms to do the work, Mr. Bancel said, Moderna had to spend months essentially gutting facilities, rebuilding them to new specifications with new equipment, testing and retesting that gear and teaching people the process.

“You cannot go to a company and have them start right away to make mRNA product,” he said.

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Maskless and Sweaty: Clubbing Returns to Britain for a Weekend

On April 29, President Emmanuel Macron of France said he hoped to remove most restrictions in the country on June 30, but nightclubs would remain shut.

Many D.J.s said they wanted clubs to reopen soon as possible, and not just for the sake of their work. Clubbing wasn’t just about music, said Marea Stamper, a D.J. better known as the Blessed Madonna, after performing a set at the Liverpool event. “We come to raves to dance, to drink, to fall in love, to meet our friends,” she said. Nightclubs create communities, she added, “and to have that cut off is dreadful.”

“It’s not just a party,” she added. “It’s never just a party.”

In Liverpool, that sense of community was evident at 7:30 p.m. when Yousef Zahar, a D.J. and co-owner of Circus, the event’s organizer, took to the stage. For his first track, he put on an emotional house tune called “When We Were Free,” which he had made last year in the middle of Britain’s third lockdown.

It seemed an odd choice for an event celebrating clubbing’s return, but as it was finishing, he started to play a sample of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last,” Dr. King said, his voice booming around the warehouse.

Then, as green lights flashed over the crowd, Zahar dropped Ultra Naté’s “Free,” a ’90s dance hit. As soon as it reached its euphoric chorus — “You’re free, to do what you want to do” — confetti cannons went off, spraying paper all over the crowd, and the ravers began to sing along. For the rest of the night they were going to follow the song’s advice.

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U.K. Begins Project to Monitor Mass Gatherings for Coronavirus Safety

Thousands of people letting loose on a nightclub dance floor. Hundreds of suited-up people gathering for a business conference. And none of them wearing masks.

As Britain slowly emerges from a lengthy lockdown, a flashback to life before the pandemic is taking place in Liverpool as part of a series of government-led experiments.

Liverpool on Wednesday hosted Britain’s first business conference since March 2020 and the northwestern English city will on Friday kick off a two-day nightclub event, the first in Britain in more than a year, and an outdoor music festival will take place on Sunday.

The events are part of a British government research project to see how mass gatherings can happen safely. Participants are asked to take a Covid-19 test before events and are required to produce a negative result. Once they are inside the venues, social distancing and face coverings are not required.

Brit Awards music show, and soccer’s F.A. Cup final.

Every attendee will be asked to undergo a Covid-19 test after the event and the research gathered will shape the government’s policy on bringing back large events.

England has set a provisional date of June 21 for all of its virus restrictions to be dropped, including those on mass gatherings, and scientists are hoping that the events that they are monitoring will provide insights into how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

Britain has in recent days reported its lowest number of infections since September and has given a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine to more than half its population.

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