The European Commission's chief executive has criticized Anglo-Swedish vaccine-maker AstraZeneca on Wednesday, accusing the embattled pharmaceutical company of delaying Europe's coronavirus vaccination campaign and warning the EU is weighing export bans to ensure supplies. Ursula von der Leyen said that the company originally pledged to deliver 90 million doses of its shot in the first three months of the year. It later said it could only provide 40 million, then more recently only 30 million. She also said the EU exports vaccines to other countries but threatened to withhold the shots from other nations that do not reciprocate. "We want to see reciprocity and proportionality in exports. And we are ready to use whatever tool we need to deliver on that." The escalating concern is another setback for the EU's vaccination drive, which has been plagued by shortages and other hurdles and is lagging well behind campaigns in Britain and the United States.
Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki said he has resigned after making a derogatory comment about a popular female Japanese entertainer in the latest controversy over insensitive remarks toward women to hit the Games organizers. Sasaki, who was the head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies at this year's Games, said he had told a planning group through a group chat that comedian Naomi Watanabe, who is heavyset, could play a role as an "Olympig." Sasaki said in a statement to Olympic organizers that his words were "inappropriate" and apologized to Watanabe and to those offended by his remarks. Last month, Yoshiro Mori stepped down from his role as president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee after causing a furor with sexist remarks when he said women talk too much in meetings.
New York Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has died of natural causes in Palm Springs, California. He was 77. AP's Margie Szaroleta has more. James Levine conducted for the Cleveland Orchestra and Chicago's Ravinia Festival but his acclaimed fame was presiding over the New York Metropolitan Opera for four decades. He conducted 2,552 performances, endorsed the orchestra's world-class reputation. He was forced out in 2016 due to Parkinson's disease and became music director emeritus. He was fired in 2018 over allegations of sexual misconduct. Levine had planned to perform this past January in Italy but the concert was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. I'm Margie Szaroleta. Visit voanews.com for more. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd, VOA news.