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Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Apr 2021

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Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine research ‘was 97% publicly funded’

At least 97% of the funding for the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been identified as coming from taxpayers or charitable trusts, according to the first attempt to reconstruct who paid for the decades of research that led to the lifesaving formulation. Using two different methods of inquiry, researchers were able to identify the source of hundreds of millions of pounds of research grants from the year 2000 onwards for published work on what would eventually become the novel technology that underpins the jab, as well as funding for the final product. The overwhelming majority of the money, especially in the early stages of the research, came from UK government departments, British and American scientific institutes, the European commission and charities including the Wellcome Trust.
15th Apr 2021 - The Guardian

Make coronavirus vaccines patent-free, former world leaders urge Biden

President Joe Biden is being urged to suspend patents for coronavirus vaccines. The move would allow developing countries to produce the vaccines on their own. The request came in a letter signed by over 100 Nobel laureates and 75 former world leaders.
15th Apr 2021 - Business Insider

Belgium won't administer Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines yet

The first Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines will not yet be used in Belgium in the coming days, said Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke at the end of Wednesday’s Consultative Committee. The pharmaceutical company recommended that countries that have already received deliveries of the coronavirus vaccine not use the doses until the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has made a decision on its safety.
15th Apr 2021 - The Brussels Times

Portugal extends COVID-19 emergency until end of April

Portugal’s parliament extended on Wednesday a state of emergency for 15 days as health experts warned that a gradual relaxation of strict lockdown rules now underway could soon lead to a significant jump in coronavirus cases. The state of emergency grants the government powers to take emergency measures such as imposing a nighttime curfew if deemed necessary, though the general trend is currently to ease a lockdown imposed in January to curb what was then the world’s worst COVID-19 surge. Portugal started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters

In fight against COVID-19, Portugal continues to cautiously ease lockdown

Most Portuguese regions will enter the third phase of easing the COVID-19 lockdown next week, but stricter rules will stay in place in municipalities where transmission rates remain high, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday. "These set of measures are neither prizes nor punishments," Antonio Costa told a news conference. "They are public health measures for the safety of the population, of people." Portugal, which imposed a lockdown in January to curb what was then the world's worst COVID-19 surge, started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Global officials urge rich countries to donate COVID jabs now

Top officials from the United Nations, the World Bank and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance have urged rich countries to donate excess COVID-19 vaccine doses to an international effort to supply low- and middle-income countries. At Thursday’s virtual event hosted by Gavi to boost support for the COVAX equitable vaccine sharing initiative, the officials also appealed for another $2bn by June for the programme, which is aiming to buy up to 1.8 billion doses in 2021.
15th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Iran to purchase 60 million COVID-19 vaccines from Russia

Iran has finalized a deal with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday. The report quotes Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, as saying the contract has been “signed and finalized” for enough vaccinations to inoculate 30 million people. Jalali said Iran will receive the vaccines by the end of the year. On Saturday, Iran began a 10-day lockdown amid a fourth wave of coronavirus infections. Authorities ordered most shops closed and offices restricted to one-third capacity in cities declared as “red zones” with the highest infection rates.
15th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Colombia rules out prompt opening of Venezuela border on COVID concerns

Colombian President Ivan Duque on Thursday ruled out a prompt reopening of his country's border with Venezuela, citing a high-level of COVID-19 infections. The 2,219km (1,380-mile) land and water border between the two neighbors - who do not maintain diplomatic relations - has been closed since last year. A new reopening date of June 1 was set by Bogota earlier this year. "I know all the urgency there is for the issue of opening the border," Duque said during a visit to the border province of Norte de Santander. But Colombia had to be "especially cautious" given the uncertainty over the COVID-19 situation in Venezuela, he said.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Apr 2021

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India seeks vaccine boost with Russian jab deal as Covid cases soar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government touted India as “the pharmacy of the world” not long ago as it exported more than 60m locally made doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab globally. But with ailing Covid-19 patients overwhelming hospitals in Mumbai, New Delhi and other big cities, the government is scrambling to secure more vaccines for domestic use. Indian drug regulators on Monday granted emergency approval to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, as daily confirmed Covid-19 infections hit a record high of 185,000. The agreement paved the way both for local production and potential imports of the vaccine.
14th Apr 2021 - Financial Times

Romania suspends use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pending EU probe

The first shipment of 60,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in Romania on Wednesday. Pending the conclusion of an investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for possible blood clot risk, the vaccines will be stored in a warehouse, the National Coordinating Committee for Vaccination Activities against COVID-19 (CNCAV) said. In the U.S., six blood clot cases have been reported among more than seven million people who received the shot. This batch entered Romania via its land border with Hungary one day after the American pharmaceutical company said on Tuesday it had suspended the rollout of its vaccine in the European Union (EU). Under its contract, Johnson & Johnson had committed to delivering 55 million vaccine doses to the EU by the end of June. The first vaccine shipments reached the EU states on Monday, but the U.S. company has since suspended further deliveries. Under the initial contract, Romania is to receive another 100,000 doses this month, 518,400 doses in May and 1.6 million in June.
14th Apr 2021 - Xinhua

Covid-19 vaccines: Denmark becomes first country to stop using Oxford/AstraZeneca jab entirely

Denmark has become the first country to entirely cease using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine following its possible link to very rare cases of blood clots. The decision, which removes the jab from Denmark’s vaccination scheme, will push back completion of the country’s vaccine rollout from July 25 to early August. Results of investigations into the blood clots “showed real and serious side effects,” according to Soren Brostrom, head of the Danish Health Authority. “Based on an overall consideration, we have therefore chosen to continue the vaccination programme for all target groups without this vaccine.”
14th Apr 2021 - iNews

Colombian capital to hold another weekend lockdown

Colombia's capital Bogota will repeat a three-day lockdown this weekend in a bid to slow coronavirus infections, Mayor Claudia Lopez said on Tuesday. A similar lockdown last weekend has helped slow the transmission of the disease, Lopez said in a press conference. People should stay home on Friday through Sunday, she added, and limits on when people can shop based on their ID number will continue. Intensive care units in Bogota have an occupancy rate of 76%, less than other cities like Medellin, which has also imposed quarantine measures. Officials will evaluate again next week whether to extend the lockdown measures, Lopes said. Colombia has reported more than 2.5 million coronavirus cases, as well as 66,000 deaths. It has administered more than 3.1 million vaccines doses, including more than 600,000 in Bogota.
14th Apr 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Maharashtra imposes 15-day lockdown to slow COVID-19 spread

India’s richest state, Maharashtra, will be under lockdown from Wednesday night for 15 days to slow rising coronavirus infections, its chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday. Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and the country’s most industrial state, has been the country’s worst hit state, accounting for about a quarter of its 13.5 million cases.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Greece to lift quarantine rule for more travelers from next week: official

Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions from next week for travelers from the European Union and five other countries who have been vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19, a senior government official said on Wednesday. Last month, the country lifted a one-week quarantine rule for Israeli travellers who have been inoculated and test negative. Greece, which emerged from a decade-long financial crisis before the pandemic last year, has said it will open its tourism sector, a key growth driver for its economy, from the middle of May.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Ukrainian capital Kyiv extends strict lockdown until April 30 - mayor

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv will stay in strict lockdown until April 30 as the daily number of new coronavirus cases and coronavirus-related deaths continues to climb despite tight restrictions imposed in March, the mayor said on Wednesday. “We have no other choice, otherwise the medical system will not cope with such a number of patients, otherwise there will be even more deaths,” mayor Vitali Klitschko told a televised briefing. Earlier, in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Kyiv limited its public transport services, closed schools and kindergartens, theatres and shopping centres, and banned spectators from sporting events. It allowed cafes and restaurants to provide only takeaway food, and recommended that all state employees to work from home. However, Kyiv continues leading other regions with about 1,500 new coronavirus cases and over 40 coronavirus related deaths registered daily.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Dutch PM Rutte extends pandemic lockdown as infections rise

The Dutch government on Tuesday extended most pandemic lockdown restrictions including a nighttime curfew as Prime Minister Mark Rutte cited rising COVID-19 infection rates and hospitals near capacity. “We have to see daily hospitalizations falling, then we’ll be over the peak of the third wave,” Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague. He said hopes that some measures could be eased on April 21 had proved illusory and they must remain in place until April 28 at the earliest. Current measures in the Netherlands, which has seen 1.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 16,700 deaths, include the first nighttime curfew since World War Two and a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Europe won't renew AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine contracts next year: report

Amid delivery delays and concerns over rare but serious blood clots for the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots, European officials are looking elsewhere for next year's supply. The European Commission has opted against renewing its vaccine contracts with AstraZeneca and J&J once they expire at the end of the year, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source from the Italian health ministry. Reuters also picked up the story. Both shots have come under scrutiny over rare but serious cases of blood clots in people who had received the vaccines, prompting several countries to halt use of the AZ shot while the European Medicines Agency completed a follow-up safety review. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has struggled to meet the delivery targets it originally laid out, while J&J just this week said it would delay its vaccine rollout in the bloc over safety concerns.
14th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma

Mumbai imposes strict virus restrictions as infections surge

The teeming metropolis of Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, the Indian state worst hit by the pandemic, face stricter restrictions for 15 days starting Wednesday in an effort to stem the surge of coronavirus infections. Top state officials stressed that the closure of most industries, businesses, public places and limits on the movement of people didn’t constitute a lockdown. Last year, a sudden, harsh, nationwide lockdown left millions jobless overnight. Stranded in cities with no income or food, thousands of migrant workers walked on highways to get home. Since then, state leaders have repeatedly stressed that another lockdown wasn’t on the cards.
14th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

EU throws weight behind Pfizer-BioNTech and new technology

In a stinging rebuke to pharma giant AstraZeneca Wednesday, the European Union announced plans to negotiate a massive contract extension for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine insisting the 27-nation bloc had to go with companies that had shown their value in the pandemic. “We need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. She also announced that America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech would provide the EU with an extra 50 million doses in the 2nd quarter of this year, making up for faltering deliveries of AstraZeneca.
14th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Apr 2021

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Stalled Pfizer deal clouds Israel's hopes of swift herd immunity

A bid to secure more Pfizer/BioNTech doses for Israel’s world-beating vaccination drive has become mired in political squabbles, just as its leaders saw the coveted prize of “herd immunity” as within reach. Although more than half the population has been inoculated, Israel may not be able to keep up the momentum of the roll out. Paralysed by repeated elections and political infighting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s caretaker government has been unable to push through a deal for additional doses.
13th Apr 2021 - Reuters

France suspends all Brazil flights due to virus variants

France suspended all flights from Brazil on Tuesday amid mounting fears over the particularly contagious coronavirus variant that has been sweeping the South American country. Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the suspension to parliament. “We note that the situation is getting worse and so we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice,” Castex said, drawing scattered applause from lawmakers. Although France has seen comparatively few known cases of the P.1 variant striking Brazil, the ravages it is causing in Latin America’s largest nation are increasingly raising alarm bells in France
13th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

India gets third coronavirus vaccine as DCGI approves Russias Sputnik V

India's drug regulator, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Tuesday approved Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V for 'restricted use in emergency situations' in India. This was a day after the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) gave its thumbs up to the vaccine. Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL) has collaborated with the Russian health ministry to obtain regulatory approval for import of the vaccine in India.
13th Apr 2021 - Business Standard

Covid-19 in Scotland: Travel ban to be lifted from Friday

The Covid-19 restriction on travelling around Scotland are to be relaxed from Friday, while people are to be allowed to meet up in larger groups outdoors. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said measures were being eased earlier than planned to help people's mental health. People will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings. And they will be permitted to travel across Scotland to do so, as long as they do not stay overnight. Other restrictions are expected to be eased from 26 April - with premises including shops, gyms, pubs and restaurants due to reopen on a restricted basis.
13th Apr 2021 - BBC News

AstraZeneca: Irish health body recommends vaccine restriction

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be limited to over-60s, the Republic of Ireland's National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has said. The body oversees the Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme in the Republic. It said that the vaccine's benefits may vary by age and that, as other vaccines are available, it has revised its vaccine recommendations, reports RTÉ. All AstraZeneca vaccination clinics planned for Tuesday should now be cancelled, it has also been advised.
13th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Scotland to ease some COVID-19 restrictions early

Scotland will ease some lockdown restrictions for domestic travel and outdoor meetings earlier than expected, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday. She said people would be permitted to travel anywhere within Scotland to see family and friends for outdoor meetings from April 16, ten days earlier than planned, and those meetings could from then take place with six people from up to six households rather than four from two households.
13th Apr 2021 - Reuters

WHO urges halt to sale of live wild animals in food markets

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the emergence of new diseases. The WHO said on Tuesday that while traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations, banning the sale of live wild mammals could protect the health of market workers and shoppers alike. It said some of the earliest known cases of COVID-19 were linked to a wholesale traditional food market in Wuhan in China, with many of the initial patients stall owners, market employees or regular visitors to the market. The coronavirus’s origins more than a year ago have been the source of intense speculation, much of it centred around the likelihood that it was carried by bats and passed to humans through an intermediary species sold as food or medicine in traditional Chinese wet markets. The interim guidance was drawn up alongside the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
13th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Amid COVID surge, India fast-tracks approval for foreign vaccines

India will fast-track emergency approvals for COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorised by Western countries and Japan, paving the way for possible imports of Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna shots. The move, which will drop the need for companies to do small, local safety trials for their vaccines before seeking emergency approval, came following the world’s biggest surge in cases in the country this month.
13th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Apr 2021

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Africa must expand vaccine production, leaders say

Africa must expand vaccine manufacturing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies, including by forging partnerships to boost expertise and investment, continental leaders and international health officials said on Monday. Africa has struggled to acquire coronavirus vaccines and imports the vast majority of its medicines and medical equipment, leaving it at the mercy of overseas supplies. Its mainly poor nations are falling behind in the global coronavirus vaccination race with under 13 million doses administered so far to the continent’s 1.3 billion people, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said last week. World Trade Organization director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said it was “morally unconscionable and a serious economic hit” that just 1.1 per 100 Africans had received a vaccine while in North America the rate was over 40 per 100.
12th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: India needs its own version of Operation Warp Speed

A report in The Economic Times says that Bharat Biotech is working on a plan to increase its monthly production capacity of the Covaxin vaccine from the current 5 million doses to 12 million doses. Serum Institute, which manufactures Covishield, is reported to be working on a similar plan. The arrival of vaccines against Covid-19 in less than a year after the first case was officially reported is on account of an extraordinary collaboration between public authorities and private companies. One measure which encapsulates this collaboration is the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, launched in May 2020, to shorten the timelines for vaccine development by providing upfront capital to spread the financial risk. Both the EU and UK have done something similar.
12th Apr 2021 - Times of India

G7 must spend £22bn to vaccinate the world against Covid-19, says Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has called for the G7 group of nations to commit £22 billion a year to a “Herculean” global coronavirus vaccination programme. The former prime minister said that Britain should provide up to £1.3 billion of the total to ensure yearly vaccinations for lower-income countries until the pandemic no longer results in deaths. Writing in The Guardian, Brown called for the mass vaccination of the world to be the primary focus of the G7 summit, which starts on June 11 in Cornwall.
12th Apr 2021 - The Times

Covid-19: Stay home order lifted in NI as restrictions ease

Northern Ireland's stay-at-home order has been lifted after being in place for more than three months, as further Covid lockdown restrictions ease. People have been told to "stay local" and continue to work from home where they can. Ten people from two households can meet up in private gardens and non-essential shops can resume click-and-collect. All pupils in Northern Ireland also returned to school on Monday for the first time since Christmas. Northern Ireland is the last part of the UK to lift its stay-at-home rule, which came into effect in January, in a bid to suppress a large rise in cases of coronavirus.
12th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Australia drops vaccine goal after AstraZeneca advice change

Australia has abandoned its target of vaccinating nearly all the country’s 26 million people against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 after medical authorities changed their advice on vaccine use for the under-50s. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would not set any new target for administering all first doses. “The Government has also not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses,” Morrison wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved. Australia’s vaccination programme was built about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but regulators adopted a more cautionary approach after a tiny number of cases of rare blood clots were found mainly among younger people who received the jab.
12th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

UN chief urges wealth tax of those who profited during COVID

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared Monday that the world’s failure to unite on tackling COVID-19 created wide inequalities, and he called for urgent action including a wealth tax to help finance the global recovery from the coronavirus. The U.N. chief said latest reports indicate that “there has been a $5 trillion surge in the wealth of the world’s richest in the past year” of the pandemic. He urged governments “to consider a solidarity or wealth tax on those who have profited during the pandemic, to reduce extreme inequalities.” Guterres’ call followed an appeal in October by U.N. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley to the more than 2,000 billionaires in the world, with a combined net worth of $8 trillion, to open their bank accounts. He warned in November that 2021 would be worse than 2020, and without billions of dollars “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.”
12th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Indian panel gives emergency approval for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine: sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An expert panel of India’s drugs regulator has recommended emergency use approval of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, two sources said on Monday, which could make it the nation’s third to be approved as infections surge ...
12th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Dutch lockdown measures remain until at least April 28, ANP says

The Dutch government on Sunday dashed hopes of an early easing of lockdown, saying a night-time curfew and other restrictions would remain until at least April 28 as daily infections rose to a two-week high. Earlier the government had said they were looking at easing restrictions on April 21 by lifting the curfew and allowing bars and restaurants to welcome guests in outdoor spaces. But a government spokesman told ANP news agency they would move back the easing of measures by at least one week.
11th Apr 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Apr 2021

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S.Korea to resume wider use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, exclude people under 30

South Korean authorities said on Sunday they will move ahead with a coronavirus vaccination drive this week, after deciding to continue using AstraZeneca PLC's vaccine for all eligible people 30 years old or over. South Korea on Wednesday suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60 as Europe reviewed cases of blood clotting in adults. People under 30 will still be excluded from the vaccinations resuming on Monday because the benefits of the shot do not outweigh the risks for that age group, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement. Three vaccinated people in South Korea are reported to have developed blood clots, with one case determined to be correlated to the vaccine, Choi Eun-hwa, chair of the Korea Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, told a briefing.
11th Apr 2021 - Nikkei Asian Review

Italy eases COVID-19 curbs as infections decline, but deaths still high

Lockdown measures will be eased from Monday in six Italian regions, the health ministry ruled on Friday, even as the nationwide daily death toll remains well above 400.
10th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Iran orders 10-day shutdown amid fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic

Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country on Saturday to curb the spread of a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported. The lockdown affects 23 of the country’s 31 provinces, health ministry spokesman Alireza Raisi said. Businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday. Iran’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 2 million with a new daily average of over 20,000 infections over the past week, according to the health ministry. It has reported more than 64,000 fatalities. “Unfortunately, today we have entered a fourth wave,” President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks. He blamed the surge foremost on the variant that first emerged in the UK which spread to Iran earlier this year from neighbouring Iraq.
10th Apr 2021 - Reuters

France to extend gap between mRNA vaccine shots, minister says

France will lengthen the period between the first and second shots of mRNA anti-COVID vaccines to six weeks from four weeks as of April 14 to accelerate the inoculation campaign, Health Minister Olivier Veran told the JDD newspaper on Sunday.
10th Apr 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Moldova to buy 400,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

Moldova will buy 400,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, the health ministry said in a statement on Friday. Moldova and neighboring Ukraine, two of Europe's poorest countries, have lagged behind the rest of the continent in the scramble for vaccines and welcomed donations from friendly governments. COVID-19 has killed 5,307 people in Moldova, a country of 3.5 million, which declared a state of emergency last week to give the government more powers to fight the pandemic. Moldova launched its vaccination drive after receiving AstraZeneca doses from neighboring Romania as humanitarian aid at the end of February. The country then became the first in Europe to receive doses from the global COVAX scheme for poor nations last month.
9th Apr 2021 - MSN

White House says J&J COVID-19 shot shipments to be low until U.S. vaccine plant cleared by regulators

Johnson & Johnson will ship relatively few COVID-19 shots around the United States until it receives regulatory clearance for a large vaccine plant in Baltimore that has struggled to meet quality control standards, a top White House Health official said on a Friday press conference. J&J is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to resolve the issues holding up authorization, said Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator. Once J&J receives authorization for its Baltimore facility, it expects to start shipping 8 million doses per week towards the end of April, Zients said, adding J&J remains on track to deliver around 100 million shots by the end of May.
9th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Merkel sets out plan to take control of Germany’s Covid response

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, plans to take control over the Covid-19 response from federal states to impose restrictions on regions with high numbers of new infections, as the head of the country’s disease control agency said Germany needed a two- to four-week lockdown to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. “Germany is in the middle of a third wave, so the federal government and the states have agreed to add to the national legislation,” a spokesperson for the German chancellor told reporters on Friday. “The aim here is to create uniform national rules,” she added, explaining that a change to the country’s pandemic law would likely be put before cabinet on Tuesday next week.
9th Apr 2021 - The Guardian


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Apr 2021

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Grim view of global future offered in intelligence report

U.S. intelligence officials are painting a dark picture of the world’s future, writing in a report released Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic inequality, strained government resources and fanned nationalist sentiments. Those assessments are included in a Global Trends report by the government’s National Intelligence Council. The reports, produced every four years, are designed to help policymakers and citizens anticipate the economic, environmental, technological and demographic forces likely to shape the world through the next 20 years. This year’s report focuses heavily on the impact of the pandemic, calling it the “most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.”
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

German health minister says EU will not order Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

Germany’s health minister says the European Union will not order Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and his country will hold bilateral talks with Russia on whether an order makes sense. Jens Spahn told WDR public radio that the EU’s executive Commission said it will not place orders for Sputnik V on member countries’ behalf, as it did with other manufacturers. Mr Spahn said on Thursday he told his fellow EU health ministers that Germany “will talk bilaterally to Russia, first of all about when what quantities could come”. He said “to really make a difference in our current situation, the deliveries would have to come in the next two to four or five months already”.
8th Apr 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Britain will achieve Covid ‘herd immunity’ on Monday, according to a UCL model

The UK is expected to pass the threshold for herd immunity by Monday, according to experts at University College London. Dynamic modelling suggests that the number of people who are protected against Covid-19, either because they are naturally immune or have received a vaccine, will hit 73.4 per cent on April 12. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics last week - based on antibody testing - show that around 54 per cent had antibodies by March 14. Since then, a further 7.1 million people have received a first jab, while nearly 100,000 more people have tested positive for Covid-19.
8th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard

Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new COVID-19 record

Argentina tightened movement restrictions on Wednesday including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking nonessential workers from using public transport after the country hit a record number of COVID-19 infections as it struggles with a second wave of the virus. President Alberto Fernandez announced a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates. Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53% in seven days, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.
8th Apr 2021 - Reuters

COVID: Qatar tightens restrictions as cases continue to rise

Qatar has announced tighter COVID-19-related restrictions amidst a rising number of cases in the last few weeks. The measures, announced in a cabinet statement on Wednesday, will come into effect on Friday as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections. On Wednesday, the country reported 940 new cases, taking the total number of positive cases to more than 186,000 since the start of the pandemic. The circulation of coronavirus variants first identified in the UK and South Africa has contributed to the spread of COVID-19, according to Abdullatif Al Khal, the deputy chief medical officer of Hamad Medical Corporation. In addition to keeping gyms, swimming pools, water parks and spas shut, the new guidelines have now ordered the closure of museums, cinemas, libraries and nurseries.
8th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine

In Spain, residents now have to be over 60 to get an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. In Belgium, over 55. In the United Kingdom, authorities recommend the shot not be given to adults under 30 where possible, and Australia’s government announced similar limits Thursday to AstraZeneca shots for those under 50. A patchwork of advice was emerging from governments across Europe and farther afield, a day after the European Union’s drug regulator said there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare clotting disorder while reiterating the vaccine is safe and effective.
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Canada’s Ontario issues stay-at-home order as COVID surges

Canada’s most populous province is imposing a stay-at-home order, nearly one week after medical and public health experts recommended such a measure as COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are surging. Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday defended his government’s decision-making process, saying he is “listening to health and science” but could not predict such a steep rise in coronarivus variants and intensive care admissions.
7th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Bolsonaro again refuses lockdown as Brazil COVID crisis drags on

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reiterated that he has no plans to order a national lockdown, a day after the nation saw its highest number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Brazil’s Health Ministry registered 3,829 deaths on Wednesday, slightly lower than 4,195 fatalities from the previous day, a grim national record. “We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” said Bolsonaro during a speech in the city of Chapeco, resisting mounting pressure on his government to account for its handling of the surging pandemic. “There will be no national lockdown,” he said. Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 sceptic who has downplayed the threat of the virus, has remained defiant in the face of public health experts who have increasingly voiced the need to implement strict coronavirus curbs to address the crisis.
7th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Apr 2021

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The Latest: Puerto Rico to vaccinate anyone 16 and older

Puerto Rico’s governor says officials will start vaccinating all those 16 years and older beginning Monday, prompting celebrations across a U.S. territory facing a spike in coronavirus cases. Currently, only people 50 years and older as well as anyone 35 to 49 with chronic health conditions are authorized to receive a vaccine. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi also announced Wednesday that he is implementing more stringent measures to fight a recent spike in coronavirus infections. A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will go into effect Friday, and businesses will be forced to close by 9 p.m. That is two hours earlier than has been allowed. Puerto Rico has recorded more than 199,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19.
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new COVID-19 record

Argentina tightened movement restrictions on Wednesday including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking nonessential workers from using public transport after the country hit a record number of COVID-19 infections as it struggles with a second wave of the virus. President Alberto Fernandez announced a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates. Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53% in seven days, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.
8th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Philippines allows use of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine for senior citizens

Philippine health authorities on Wednesday allowed the use of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine for some senior citizens after initially limiting coverage to people aged 18-59 years, as the country battles one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks. The Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration said they made the decision after receiving the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology's vaccine expert panel. Senior citizens can now receive CoronaVac shots provided there is stringent evaluation of the person's health status and exposure risk, they said in a statement.
7th Apr 2021 - Yahoo

Africa needs £9bn to buy enough vaccines to stop Covid-19 spread, say World Bank and IMF

Africa needs around £9bn ($12bn) to buy and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to reach enough people to stop the coronavirus spreading, according to a new paper by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The world's rich G20 countries should also extend a debt moratorium until the end of the year to help the poorest countries through the pandemic, the paper said. The money needed by Africa roughly is roughly the same as debt repayments already deferred by 45 of the poorest countries, the bodies said. Meanwhile a new Rockefeller Foundation report found that moves to bolster the IMF's emergency reserves could provide billions for poor countries to vaccinate, at no added cost to rich countries.
7th Apr 2021 - The Daily Telegraph

COVID-19: What 'freedom' really looks like come 21 June is a moving target

When Boris Johnson unveiled his four-month roadmap out of lockdown in February, he said the vaccination programme was "creating a shield around the entire population, which means we are now travelling on a one-way road to freedom". On Monday, he said the unlocking of our country and our lives was still on track as he used the Easter Bank Holiday news conference to confirm shops, pubs, gyms, hairdressers and restaurants in England will be able to reopen their doors once more from 12 April. Self-catering holidays will be allowed, and people will again be able to travel around the country.
7th Apr 2021 - Sky News

German govt welcomes calls for tougher COVID lockdown

BERLIN, April 7 (Reuters) - Any demands for a short, tough lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus are correct as infection rates are too high, a German government spokeswoman said on Wednesday, adding the number of patients in intensive care is rising.
7th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Brazil's Bolsonaro ignores calls for lockdown to slow virus

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday there would be “no national lockdown,” ignoring growing calls from health experts a day after the nation saw its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours since the pandemic began. Brazil’s Health Ministry registered 4,195 deaths on Tuesday, becoming the third country to go above that threshold as Bolsonaro’s political opponents demanded stricter measures to slow down the spread of the virus. “We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” Bolsonaro said, resisting the pressure in a speech in the city of Chapeco in Santa Catarina state. “There will be no national lockdown.”
7th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

‘Vaccine policy is economic policy,’ IMF chief stresses

Unprecedented policy response and speedy vaccine development helped pull the global economy back from the brink last year, but the outlook is still marked by severe uncertainty and increasingly lopsided access to wealth and opportunity, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director said on Wednesday. “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said at a virtual news conference on the second day of the World Bank and IMF’s week-long spring meetings. “This could have been another Great Depression.”
7th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

India sees record 115,736 new COVID cases, night curfew in Delhi

India on Wednesday reported a record 115,736 new coronavirus infections, taking the total to more than 12.8 million cases, data from the health ministry showed. The death toll in the world’s third-worst-hit nation after the United States and Brazil reached 166,177, including 630 new fatalities, the most in four days. On Monday, India reported more than 100,000 cases for the first time since the pandemic began last year. Nearly 97,000 cases were registered on Tuesday. With cases continuing to surge in many parts of the country, authorities have announced strict restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, the capital New Delhi imposed a night curfew from 10pm to 5am until April 30, with only essential services or people travelling to and from vaccination centres allowed on the streets.
7th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Apr 2021

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Zimbabwe to Buy One Million Covid-19 Vaccines Each Month

“Our target is that every month, end of April, end of May, end of June, a million doses will be arriving and these will be fully paid for,” Ncube said in an interview with the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. The southern African nation bought 1.2 million Sinovac vaccines in March for $12 million, according to the Health Ministry. Zimbabwe has given emergency authorization to four vaccines -- SinoPharm, Sinovac, Covaxin and Sputnik-V -- and plans to spend $100 million to inoculate at least two-thirds of its adult population.
6th Apr 2021 - Bloomberg

Tanzania's new president prioritises COVID-19

Tanzania’s new president Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday drew a line under her predecessor’s controversial stances on COVID-19 and the media, indicating an apparent change in course for the nation after the death of John Magufuli last month. Hassan announced she was forming a committee to research whether Tanzania should follow the course taken by the rest of the world against the pandemic. “We cannot segregate ourselves like an island, but also we cannot blindly accept what is being brought forward to us (on COVID-19) without carrying out our own investigations and inputs,” she told officials at State House in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. “Let us have a stance.”
6th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Colombia's capital Bogota to enter three-day quarantine from Saturday

Colombia’s capital Bogota will introduce new restrictions this week, including a three-day lockdown starting on Saturday, Mayor Claudia Lopez said, in a bid to curb a third wave of coronavirus infections. The decision to place additional restrictions in Bogota this week follows high growth in coronavirus positive test rates and increasing demand for intensive care units (ICUs), the mayor said late on Monday. “We’re all going to stay at home Saturday, Sunday, and Monday,” Lopez said in a video message, adding that essential workers would still be allowed out. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive has doubled to around 20%, Lopez said, while total occupancy of ICUs has hit 70%, according to local health authorities.
6th Apr 2021 - Reuters

AP Interview: India could resume vaccine exports by June

The world’s largest vaccine maker, based in India, will be able to restart exports of AstraZeneca doses by June if new coronavirus infections subside in the country, its chief executive said Tuesday. But a continued surge could result in more delays because the Serum Institute of India would have to meet domestic needs, Adar Poonawalla warned in an interview with The Associated Press. The company is a key supplier for the U.N.-backed COVAX program that aims to distribute vaccines equitably in the world. On March 25, COVAX announced a major setback in its vaccine rollout because a surge in infections in India caused the Serum Institute of India to cater to domestic demand, resulting in a delay in global shipments of up to 90 million doses.
6th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Iran receives first AstraZeneca doses through COVAX

Some 700,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been delivered to Iran as part of its purchase of millions of doses through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative. As confirmed by an Iranian official and the United Nations’ UNICEF, which handled delivery, the first shipment landed in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport Monday night and included 700,800 doses of the vaccine.
6th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Apr 2021

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India's richest state says to impose new COVID-19 restrictions, weekend lockdown

India’s richest state, Maharashtra, announced stringent COVID-19 restrictions from Monday, after a rapid rise in infections now accounting for more than half the country’s daily new cases. An industrialist who attended a meeting with the chief minister before the curbs were announced quoted him as saying that “the situation is grim and there could be shortage of hospital beds, doctors and oxygen cylinders”. He declined to be named, but the comments echo those of government and health officials to Indian media about the situation in the state, which includes the crowded financial capital Mumbai.
4th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Ontario hastily reverses reopening as new variants usher in a third wave of Covid cases

Lisa Salamon-Switzman, an emergency room doctor in Toronto, had already worked through two deadly surges of the coronavirus pandemic when a new batch of patients recently began arriving that left her unsettled because of their low oxygen levels – and their age. “They’re younger than what we saw earlier and they don’t really understand how sick they are,” she said of patients who are in their 40s and 50s. “And now it’s become this huge, huge wave.” Doctors and epidemiologists in Canada’s most populous province have been warning for weeks that the loosening of restrictions, a lack of sick pay for essential workers –and the arrival of infectious new coronavirus variants would usher in a devastating third wave.
4th Apr 2021 - The Guardian

UK ministers plan traffic light system to unlock foreign travel

Ministers will on Thursday hammer out a framework for reopening Britain’s overseas travel sector, as chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the country was “in a good position to recover strongly” from the Covid-19 crisis. Travel industry and Whitehall officials expect Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, will back a “traffic light” approach to restarting foreign travel, depending on infection rates and the prevalence of Covid-19 variants in overseas destinations. May 17 has been named as the “earliest date” for foreign travel; aviation sector executives hope Israel and Iceland will be among early holiday destinations on a “green list”, with the US not far behind.
2nd Apr 2021 - Financial Times

98pc of Pakistanis to get free coronavirus vaccine, says Fawad

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday announced that 98 per cent of the population will get free coronavirus vaccines, ARY News reported. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad today, Fawad Chaudhry said that the people can also get themselves vaccinated from private hospitals. The federal government has fixed the price of CanSino, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Chian, at Rs4,225 per dose, the minister said, adding that people needed to get only one shot of the vaccine. Responding to a question, Fawad Chaudhry, “The Russian vaccine’s price cannot be determined at the moment, as the matter of setting its rate is currently underway in court.”
2nd Apr 2021 - ARY News Live

Fears of low turnout as Bulgarians prepare to vote in pandemic

With days until Sunday’s parliamentary elections, Bulgaria on Wednesday registered 5,176 daily COVID-19 cases – a record since the start of the pandemic. Despite high infection rates and a strained healthcare system, the Bulgarian government has decided to go forward with the vote. But with a growing number of people in hospital and home quarantine, questions have emerged about how they will be able to vote. The government has tasked the municipalities with organising mobile polling stations to accommodate these voters. Local authorities have said, however, that very few people have sent the required forms to request this option and therefore, few mobile polling stations will be made available. As a result, many of the 120,000 people under quarantine and the nearly 10,000 in hospital may be unable to cast their vote.
2nd Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Dutch temporarily halt AstraZeneca shots for under-60s

The Dutch government said Friday it is temporarily halting AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccinations for people under 60 following reports of very small number of people suffering unusual blood clots after receiving the shot. The Dutch decision comes three days after authorities in Germany also stopped using the AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the under-60s, citing fresh concerns over unusual blood clots reported in a tiny number of those who received the shots. Earlier Friday, a Dutch organization that monitors vaccine side effects said it had received five reports of blood clots with low blood plate counts following vaccinations. All the cases occurred between seven and 10 days after the vaccinations and all the people affected were women aged between 25 and 65 years.
2nd Apr 2021 - Associated Press

Panama approves Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine -Russian RDIF fund

Panama has approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for use against COVID-19, becoming the 59th country to do so, Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday.
1st Apr 2021 - Nasdaq

South African health regulator approves J&J's COVID-19 vaccine

South Africa's health regulator has approved Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for large-scale deliveries of the shot the government has put at the heart of its immunisation plans. The conditional approval by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) comes less than four months after it started a "rolling review" of the J&J vaccine, which has been administered to healthcare workers since mid-February in a research study. J&J aims to supply the country with 31 million doses of its single-dose vaccine, with 2.8 million doses being made available in the second quarter, it said in a statement announcing the approval.
1st Apr 2021 - Yahoo News UK

France Enacting National Lockdown After Covid Spike

France will go under another nationwide lockdown starting on Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron said, closing down schools for in-person learning nationwide and restricting travel to within 10 kilometers (about six miles) of residents’ homes right as many in the country were planning to celebrate the Easter holiday.
31st Mar 2021 - Forbes


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Apr 2021

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Coronavirus: how wealthy nations are creating a ‘vaccine apartheid’

A chorus of activists are calling for changes to intellectual property laws in hopes of beginning to boost Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing globally, and addressing the gaping disparity between rich and poor nations’ access to coronavirus vaccines. The US and a handful of other wealthy vaccine-producing nations are on track to deliver vaccines to all adults who want them in the coming months, while dozens of the world’s poorest countries have not inoculated a single person. Activists have dubbed the disparity a “vaccine apartheid” and called for the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies to share technical know-how in an effort to speed the global vaccination project.
31st Mar 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Irish lockdown to be eased from mid-April with two fully vaccinated people allowed to meet indoors

The Irish government has announced some easing to strict lockdown restrictions from mid-April, including allowing two fully vaccinated people to meet indoors. Speaking in Dublin, the prime minister Micheal Martin said the coronavirus was "a different beast" from the one that Ireland faced during the first lockdown last year, due to the B.117 variant, also known as the UK or Kent variant.
31st Mar 2021 - Sky News

Kyiv sets strict lockdown amid record COVID-19 death toll

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv will impose a strict lockdown from April 5 amid a gloomy prediction for a further surge in infections and a record daily number of coronavirus-related deaths, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Wednesday. Ukraine’s Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said there were 407 coronavirus-related deaths recorded in the country over the past 24 hours, and warned infections were likely to rise further over the next one to two weeks.
31st Mar 2021 - Metro US

Covid: France schools to close under third lockdown

French schools will close for at least three weeks as part of new national restrictions to fight rising Covid cases, President Emmanuel Macron says. Mr Macron said that schools would move to remote learning from next week. Lockdown measures, introduced in some areas of France earlier this month, are also being extended to other districts. All non-essential shops are to close from Saturday and there will be a ban on travelling more than 10km (six miles) from home without good reason. The country is facing a peak of over 5,000 people in intensive care.
31st Mar 2021 - BBC News

14 countries and WHO chief accuse China of withholding data from pandemic origins investigation

It was supposed to offer insight into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. But since its release on Tuesday, the long-awaited World Health Organization investigation has drawn criticism from governments around the world over accusations it is incomplete and lacks transparency. In a joint statement, the United States and 13 other governments, including the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea, expressed concerns over the study's limited access to "complete, original data and samples." The European Union issued its own statement, expressing the same concerns in slightly softer language. The criticism follows an admission from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that investigators faced problems during their four-week mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in December 2019.
31st Mar 2021 - CNN


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Novavax COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by UK in April, Evening Standard says

Britain could approve Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine next month, the chief investigator for the shot's trial told the Evening Standard newspaper. “The regulator will do a very detailed and thorough review and will decide in good time,” said Professor Paul Heath, chief investigator for the Novavax jab trial in the UK. “I would hope it would be in the spring, possibly end of April.”
30th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Brazil’s Bolsonaro shakes up cabinet as pressure mounts over Covid

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has announced a sweeping reshuffle of his cabinet, including new foreign and defence ministers, as political pressure mounts on the rightwing leader to get a handle on the Covid-19 crisis. With Latin America’s biggest nation battling its darkest episode of the pandemic, a day of resignations and rumours ended with a new line-up for a government struggling to contain a second, more deadly wave of the disease. Ernesto Araújo, the country’s top diplomat, offered to quit on Monday, according to local media, following calls from lawmakers unhappy with Brazil’s efforts to acquire coronavirus vaccines.
30th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

Scotland to lift ‘stay at home’ orders from Friday as lockdown eases

Scotland’s ‘Stay at Home’ rule will be lifted this Friday and replaced by a ‘Stay Local’ message, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. The First Minister also announced that hairdressers and barbers across the country can reopen from Monday as restrictions are eased.
30th Mar 2021 - Metro

Vienna Plans to Extend Easter Lockdown Until Following Weekend: Minister

Vienna plans to extend an Easter coronavirus lockdown by five days until the following Sunday, Austria's health minister said on Monday, while two nearby provinces introducing the same restrictions are still undecided on prolonging them. The eastern provinces of Lower Austria, which surrounds Vienna, Burgenland, which borders Hungary, and the capital itself last week announced a lockdown from Thursday, April 1 to Tuesday, April 6, closing non-essential shops and replacing a nighttime curfew with all-day restrictions on movement
30th Mar 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

Turkey tightens coronavirus measures, brings back weekend lockdowns: Erdogan

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced tighter measures against the coronavirus on Monday, citing the rising number of high-risk cities across the country. Erdogan said a full weekend lockdown was to be in place during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, and restaurants would only serve food for delivery and take-outs. A curfew from 9 pm until 5 am across the country will continue, Erdogan said. Turkey has recorded 32,404 new coronavirus cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest number this year, health ministry data showed on Monday.
30th Mar 2021 - Reuters UK

Berlin suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for below-60s

The German state of Berlin is again suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for people below 60 over reports of blood clots. Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, said on Tuesday that the decision was taken as a precaution before a meeting of representatives from all of Germany’s 16 states after the country’s medical regulator reported 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Of them, nine people died.
30th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics

As the world battles the biggest health crisis in recent history, leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) have said an international treaty for pandemic preparedness will protect future generations. The idea of such a treaty, aimed at tightening rules on sharing information and ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, as well as medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was first floated late last year by European Council President Charles Michel.
30th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Chile imposes lockdowns to fight new Covid wave despite vaccination success

Despite mounting the world’s fastest per-capita Covid-19 vaccination campaign, Chile has been forced to announce strict new lockdowns as it plunges deeper into a severe second wave of cases which is stretching intensive care capacity. Chile trails only Israel and the UAE in vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants worldwide, but new cases have risen quickly amid mixed health messaging, travel over the southern hemisphere summer holidays and the circulation of new variants.
28th Mar 2021 - The Guardian


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Philippines sees 10,000 new COVID-19 cases as tight curbs return to capital

The Philippine passed the 10,000 mark for new daily coronavirus infections for the first time on Monday and put its capital region back on one of its toughest levels of lockdown, to try to tackle a spike in cases that is testing its healthcare capacity. Manila and surrounding provinces were put back under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the highest tier in its containment protocols, for the first time since May 2020 to try to quell the surge in cases, despite inroads late last year towards controlling its epidemic. The country recorded 10,016 new infections on Monday, bringing the overall tally to 731,894, with deaths at 13,186, one of the highest caseloads in Asia.
29th Mar 2021 - Reuters

US COVID deaths could have been ‘decreased substantially’

The White House coronavirus task force coordinator under former President Donald Trump says she believes the COVID-19 death toll in the country would have been “decreased substantially” had the previous government responded more effectively in the early days of the outbreak. Dr Deborah Birx said that while the initial surge in March last year caught health officials off guard, better messaging and coordination from the government could have reduced the number of deaths later
29th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Younger Brazilians Are Dying From Covid in an Alarming New Shift

Staggering under its worst period of the pandemic, with daily records of caseloads and deaths, Brazil is facing a daunting development: a rising number of deaths among the young. So far this month, according to government data, about 2,030 Brazilians aged 30 to 39 have died from Covid, more than double the number recorded in January. Among those in their 40s, there have been 4,150 fatalities in March, up from 1,823 in January, and for those 20-29, deaths jumped to 505 from 242. “Before, the risk factor to dying from Covid-19 was being older, having some co-morbidity,” said Domingos Alves, a professor of medicine who’s part of the national monitoring group. “Now, the risk is being Brazilian.”
29th Mar 2021 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Mar 2021

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Covid-19: Several Vaccine Production Sites Approved in E.U.

The European Union’s stumbling Covid-19 vaccination drive, badly shaken by the recent AstraZeneca safety scare, got a boost Friday from the European Medicines Agency, which approved new AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine production sites. The agency, an arm of the European Union and Europe’s top drug regulator, approved sites in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. It also loosened regulations for how long the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultralow temperatures. The moves could speed up the Continent’s lagging vaccine production and distribution, which have been plagued by delays and setbacks.
29th Mar 2021 - New York Times

Coronavirus: UK ‘set to offer 3.7m vaccines to Ireland’ amid EU exports row

The UK is planning to offer 3.7 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Republic of Ireland in a move that could exacerbate its rift with the EU, it has been reported. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have met privately to discuss the plan, which they see as integral to ensuring lockdown restrictions can be lifted in neighbouring Northern Ireland with the reduced risk of border crossings triggering a third wave of infections, according to The Sunday Times.
28th Mar 2021 - MSN

Hong Kong and Macao suspend BioNTech coronavirus vaccine rollout due to packaging defect

Authorities in Hong Kong and Macao have suspended the rollout of BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine citing a packaging defect found in their first batch of doses. Both governments said in statements Wednesday they had received a letter from BioNTech and its Chinese partner, Fosun Pharma, indicating an issue with the seal on individual vials in batch number 210102. According to government figures, as of Tuesday, 150,200 people in Hong Kong had received their first dose of the BioNTech vaccine, which outside of China is partnered with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
26th Mar 2021 - CNN

India bans Covid-19 vaccine exports to put itself first

India has imposed a de facto ban on vaccine exports as it puts its own needs first. The country is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19, which is worsening rapidly. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest maker of vaccines in the world, has been told to halt exports until it can cover what India needs, according to sources in the Indian health ministry and Unicef.
26th Mar 2021 - The Times

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta orders new lockdown to battle COVID-19 infections wave

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a halt to all movement in the capital Nairobi and four other counties on Friday as the COVID-19 outbreak reached its worst ever stage in East Africa’s richest economy.
26th Mar 2021 - CNBC Africa

Macron backs EU vaccine export controls, sees more French restrictions

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he supported stricter EU export controls on vaccines for drug companies that do not meet their contractual commitments with the European Union. “It’s the end of naivety,” Macron told reporters after a virtual EU summit. “I support export control mechanisms put in place by the European Commission. I support the fact that we must block all exports for as long as some drug companies don’t respect their commitments with Europeans,” he added. Macron said the EU had been late in ramping up vaccine production and inoculations, but was catching up and would become the world’s biggest producer of vaccines this summer.
26th Mar 2021 - Reuters

BioNTech nabs EU approval for former Novartis plant tapped in COVID-19 vaccine production push

On a quest to turn out 2 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty this year, Pfizer and BioNTech just scored a major boost thanks to the European approval of a linchpin manufacturing plant in Germany. BioNTech won a thumbs up from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to start making and supplying partners with vaccine drug product from the Marburg, Germany facility it picked up from Novartis last fall. The regulator this week cleared BioNTech to manufacture messenger RNA—the vaccine's active ingredient—there, making it one of the largest mRNA production sites globally, BioNTech said in a release. Once fully operational, the site is expected to hit annual capacity of up to 1 billion vaccine doses per year, the company said. That's 250 million doses more than BioNTech said the site would be able to turn out last month. The company hopes to produce 250 million doses there in the first half of the year, and the first Marburg-made shots are expected to roll out in the second half of April.
26th Mar 2021 - FiercePharma

France puts region around Lyon in lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating almost everywhere in France, French health minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday. He added that three additional regions will be put under lockdown, including the area around the city of Lyon. The Paris region and a large part of northern France is already in a third lockdown.
25th Mar 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Mar 2021

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Denmark prolongs suspension of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Danish officials decided Thursday to prolong their suspension of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by three weeks while they continue evaluating a potential link with blood clots even though European Union regulators who looked into the issue have cleared the vaccine for use. Denmark's decision “was made on the basis of presumed side effects,” Tanja Erichsen of the Danish Medicines Agency said during a news conference. ”It can’t be ruled out that there is a connection between the vaccine and the very rare blood clot cases,” she said.
25th Mar 2021 - The Independent

India blocks vaccine exports in blow to dozens of nations

India, one of the world’s biggest vaccine producers, has imposed a de facto ban on jab exports as it seeks to prioritise local vaccinations amid an accelerating second wave of coronavirus infections. The Serum Institute of India, the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world and the biggest supplier to the international Covax programme, has been told to halt exports and that the measures could last as long as two to three months, according to two people familiar with the situation. Gavi, the UN-backed international vaccine alliance, immediately warned that the controls would have a direct impact on the Covax scheme, set up with the World Health Organization to ensure the equitable global distribution of at least 2bn Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021.
25th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

WHO urges equitable COVID-19 vaccine access to widen reach in Africa

Africa urgently needs more COVID-19 vaccine supplies as deliveries begin to slow down and initial batches are nearly exhausted in some countries. The continent has so far administered 7.7 million vaccine doses mainly to high-risk population groups. Forty-four African countries have received vaccines through the COVAX Facility or through donations and bilateral agreements, and 32 of them have begun vaccinations. While the COVAX deliveries have enabled many African countries to roll out vaccinations, a critical proportion of the population targeted in the initial phase of the vaccination campaign may remain unvaccinated for months to come due to global supply chain constraints. In 10 African countries, vaccines have not yet arrived.
25th Mar 2021 - Africanews

South Sudan receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX Facility

Today 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Juba International Airport. This is the first of several vaccine shipments scheduled to arrive over the coming months to South Sudan through the support of the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global partnership comprised of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO established to ensure all countries can equitably access COVID-19 vaccines. The first COVAX supported shipment of vaccines will target health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection.
25th Mar 2021 - Mirage News

India Locks Down Some Towns as Coronavirus Cases Hit Five-Month High

Authorities ordered people indoors in some towns in western India as the number of new coronavirus infections hit 53,476 infections overnight, the highest in five months, data showed on Thursday. Cases have surged across several states in since late February, following a near-full reopening of the economy and flouting of safety measures such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing, health officials say. More than half the new infections were reported from western Maharashtra state, home to financial capital Mumbai, where millions have returned to work in offices and factories. The local government imposed a full lockdown for ten days in the worst-affected towns Nanded and Beed following a cabinet meeting, an official said.
25th Mar 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

Advocates call on US to use vaccine patent to boost global access

A group of academics and activists are calling on the United States government to make sure an upcoming patent for technology at the heart of several coronavirus vaccines is used to increase access to the inoculants globally. A patent is expected to soon be issued for a particular form of molecular engineering developed by US government scientists that is currently used by five manufacturers of mRNA coronavirus vaccines. In a letter to US health officials, six health advocacy organisations and 15 public health academics said the upcoming patent is an “important policy tool that the US government could use to facilitate scale up of production” for mRNA vaccines that use the technology.
25th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Biden should use emergency powers to license Covid-19 vaccine technologies to the WHO for global access

Following the WTO’s failure to act, Biden’s best option to lead the world toward equitable vaccine access is by using his executive powers to extricate the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine patents from the grip of stifling monopolies and license the Covid-19 vaccine technology to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, which would enable a rapid scale-up of generic vaccine manufacturing worldwide. This would give Biden a chance for a rare triple win: Licensing Covid-19 vaccine technologies to the pool would be a major victory for global social justice, a win for the self-interested American public, and a foreign policy victory for world order and stability.
25th Mar 2021 - STAT News

Pakistan extends school closures amid third wave of coronavirus

Pakistan’s government has ordered educational institutions in 18 high-risk districts to remain closed until April 11, the education minister said, as the country continues to battle a third wave of coronavirus infections. Speaking to the press in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the decision to extend closures first ordered on March 15 had been taken as virus infection numbers had stayed high.
25th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

EU turns up heat on Astrazeneca as new COVID-19 wave surges

EU leaders voiced frustration on Thursday over a massive shortfall in contracted deliveries of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, as a third wave of infections surged across Europe. With inoculation programmes running far behind those of Britain and the United States, the bloc’s executive warned that vaccine exports by the British-Swedish company would be blocked until it delivers the shots it promised to the EU. “We have to and want to explain to our European citizens that they get their fair share,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after a video-conference summit of the European Union’s leaders. “The company has to catch up, has to honour the contract it has with the European member states, before it can engage again in exporting vaccines,” she said.
25th Mar 2021 - Reuters

UK extends emergency coronavirus powers by 6 months

British lawmakers agreed Thursday to prolong coronavirus emergency measures for six months, allowing the Conservative government to keep its unprecedented powers to restrict U.K. citizens’ everyday lives. The House of Commons voted to extend the powers until September, and approved the government’s road map for gradually easing Britain’s strict coronavirus lockdown over the next three months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s large Conservative majority in Parliament guaranteed the measures passed by a decisive 484-76 margin. But Johnson faced rebellion from some of his own party’s lawmakers, who argued that the economic, democratic and human costs of the restrictions outweigh the benefits
25th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press


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Brazil Could Approve Russian Coronavirus Vaccine in Days, Says Pharmaceutical Firm

The Brazilian pharmaceutical company that plans to produce Russia's coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V said on Tuesday it expects to overcome regulatory obstacles in "two or three" days to obtain authorization to make and sell the shot in Brazil. After a 5-hour video conference with União Quimica executives and members of Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, Brazil's health regulator Anvisa said there was still information missing before it could approve the vaccine.
24th Mar 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

India: Delhi orders Covid tests at airports as cases surge

India's capital, Delhi, will begin randomised Covid tests at airports, bus stops and train stations amid what some experts say is a second wave. Mumbai, a financial hub and virus hotspot, ordered mandatory testing in busy areas earlier this week. Cases have surged in recent weeks - on Wednesday, India reported more than 47,000 new cases and 275 deaths, it's highest this year. It has reported more than 11.7 million cases and 160,000 deaths so far
24th Mar 2021 - BBC News

After backlash, Merkel ditches stricter Easter lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday rejected demands for a vote of confidence in her government over a U-turn on a circuit-breaker lockdown over Easter that compounded discontent with her handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Merkel’s decision to ditch plans for an extended Easter holiday to try to break a third wave of COVID-19 agreed two days earlier during talks with governors of Germany’s 16 states raised concerns that she has lost her grip on the crisis. “No, I will not do that,” said Merkel, when asked about calls by all three opposition parties that she submit a vote of confidence. “I asked people today to forgive me for a mistake. This was the right thing to do, I believe. I also have the support of the whole federal government and parliament.”
24th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Belgium imposes new lockdown to fight third COVID-19 wave

Belgium will close schools, non-food stores and hairdressers for four weeks from Saturday, in a sharp renewed lockdown designed to contain a rising third wave of COVID-19 infections. A year on from the first pandemic shutdown, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told a news conference that the variant of the virus first discovered in Britain had become dominant in the country and led to a doubling of COVID-19 patients in hospitals. More than 22,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Belgium, among the world’s highest per capita fatality rates. Infections, which were running at a daily average of about 2,000 for three months, are now more than double that level
24th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Hong Kong, Macau suspend Pfizer vaccine amid ‘packaging issue’

Hong Kong and Macau have suspended the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines because of a defect in the packaging of one batch of doses, officials said on Wednesday. Vials with lot number 210102 were found to have defective packaging, authorities said, and an investigation was under way. “For the sake of precaution, the current vaccination must be suspended during the period of investigation,” Hong Kong’s government said in a statement, noting there had been “deviations in the vial seal”. Vaccinations using a second batch – 210104 – were also suspended, it added. It did not elaborate on whether that batch was similarly affected.
24th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Coronavirus: EU and UK try to end row with 'win-win' on vaccines

After weeks of tensions over Covid vaccine supplies, the UK government and European Commission have said they are working together to improve their relationship over the pandemic. They said they wanted to "create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens". The Commission earlier proposed tougher export controls on vaccines, amid tensions over AstraZeneca supplies. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that "blockades" were not "sensible". The joint EU-UK statement said that "openness and global co-operation" would be key to tackling the pandemic. However, there was little harmony earlier when the Commission announced plans for all shipments of vaccines to be assessed on the destination country's rate of vaccinations and vaccine exports. The proposals, to be put before EU leaders on Thursday, are seen as focused on the UK and US in particular.
24th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Qatar reimposes coronavirus-related restrictions

Qatar has announced a series of coronavirus-related restrictions on education, leisure and business activities including closing gyms and restricting restaurant capacity. The measures, announced in a cabinet statement on Wednesday, will come into effect on Friday as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections.
24th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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European Union set to curb Covid-19 vaccine exports for six weeks

The EU is finalizing emergency legislation that will give it powers to curb exports for the next six weeks of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, a sharp escalation in response to supply shortages at home that have created a political maelstrom amid a rising third wave on the continent. The draft legislation, which is set to be made public Wednesday, was reviewed by The New York Times and confirmed by two EU officials involved in the drafting process. The new rules will make it harder for pharmaceutical companies producing Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union to export them and is likely to disrupt supply to the UK. The EU has been at loggerheads with AstraZeneca since it drastically cut its supply to the bloc, citing production problems in January, and the company is the main target for the new rules.
24th Mar 2021 - Deccan Herald

AstraZeneca’s shot at redemption sows further confusion

The dispute between AstraZeneca and the independent scientists — who sit on the trial’s data and safety monitoring board, or DSMB — centres on whether the company was wrong to publish data collected before a February cut-off point instead of including more recent figures as well. In a letter sent to AstraZeneca on Monday, which was copied to the NIH and another US government agency funding the trial, the DSMB said it thought a broader analysis including up-to-date results would show a lower efficacy rate of between 69 per cent and 74 per cent, according to a person who has seen it. Anthony Fauci, a senior official at the NIH, told the Financial Times the body was “not accusing anybody of anything”, adding: “[We are] just saying very, very frankly and simply, that we urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the data, and to ensure that it’s the most accurate, up-to-date data that was made public.” AstraZeneca responded to the NIH statement by promising to publish the final data set from the trial within 48 hours.
24th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

Dutch to shorten COVID-19 curfew despite rising cases - broadcasters

A nationwide curfew to fight the Dutch coronavirus outbreak will be shortened by an hour from next week, despite a rapid rise in new infections, local media reported on Tuesday citing government sources. The start of the curfew will be put back to 10:00 P.M. from March 31, national broadcasters NOS and RTL said, after local authorities had said daylight savings time would make it difficult for the police to enforce the original rule. The curfew, which sparked days of violent riots throughout the country when it was introduced on Jan. 23, will end as before at 4:30 A.M.
23rd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Yemen declares COVID-19 emergency as second wave accelerates

Yemen's internationally recognised government declared a health emergency in areas under its control, as infections in a second wave of a coronavirus epidemic surge. Yemen's six-year war has restricted testing and reporting of COVID-19,
23rd Mar 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Austria delays reopening restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise

Austria has postponed the reopening of cafe, restaurant and bar terraces planned for March 27 due to rising coronavirus cases and is preparing for regions to adapt restrictions locally, the government said on Monday. Infections have been increasing steadily since Austria loosened its third lockdown on Feb. 8 by letting non-essential shops reopen despite stubbornly high COVID-19 cases. A night-time curfew replaced all-day restrictions on movement. The number of new infections reported rose above 3,500 on Friday, the highest level since early December, when cases were falling during the second national lockdown.
23rd Mar 2021 - Reuters

English seeking sunshine abroad face hefty new fines

Travellers from England will face 5,000 pound ($6,900) fines in new legislation designed to deter non-essential trips and barricade the nation against imported COVID-19 infections. The news was a disappointment to millions of people hoping for a summer holiday and sent travel stocks - including easyJet, British Airway-owner, Jet2 and TUI - down 2-4% in early trade on Tuesday. As a gradual easing of lockdown is set to begin from this weekend, the government is warning that people may have to sacrifice long-desired holidays abroad
23rd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Unions attack 'authoritarian' plan to force care workers to have Covid-19 jab

Unions have hit back at a "heavy-handed" and "authoritarian" government proposal to compel care home workers to have a coronavirus vaccine amid fears that low levels of uptake may undermine the fight against Covid-19. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, confirmed on Tuesday that the government is considering a proposal that would legally require people caring for elderly and vulnerable patients to be vaccinated. However union bosses have said care workers should not be "strong-armed or bullied" into having the jab with threats of legal action. While more than 90 per cent of residents in care homes have had the vaccine, among staff the figure is closer to 75 per cent
23rd Mar 2021 - The Independent

Germany to extend COVID-19 curbs, impose Easter lockdown

Germany will extend its coronavirus restrictions until April 18 and enter a strict lockdown for five days over Easter in a bid to halt soaring infection rates, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday morning after marathon talks with regional leaders that ran deep into the night. As well as extending existing measures that have closed cultural, leisure and sporting facilities, Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers agreed a tougher lockdown for the Easter holidays between April 1 and 5. “We are now in a very serious situation,” Merkel told a news conference, adding that Germany was in a race against time to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus. Germany’s national disease control centre has warned new infections are growing exponentially as the more contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom has also become dominant within its own borders.
23rd Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Brazil's COVID-19 crisis affecting nearby countries

The worsening COVID-19 surge in Brazil—a dire situation that has filled much of the country's intensive care unit (ICU) capacity—is affecting its neighbors, officials from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today. The group urged people and their leaders to take steps that slow the spread of the virus. At a briefing today, Sylvain Aldighieri, MD, PAHO's incident manager, said transmission in Brazil is very high and increasing in all regions, unlike the spike in 2020 that affected only a few regions. He said 26 of the country's 27 federal units have ICUs under stress, with 23 reporting more than 85% of ICU beds occupied. The country is battling the more transmissible P1 SARS-CoV-2 variant, which has now been reported in 15 Americas countries, Aldighieri said. Since the variant emerged in Amazonas state in late 2020, Brazil has experienced two spikes: one 2 weeks after Christmas and one 2 weeks after Carnival (Feb 12 to 17).
23rd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

AstraZeneca to publish more detail on US trial after concerns raised

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said it will release further data "within 48 hours" on US trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, after health officials raised concerns about the initial information disclosed. The company pushed back against a statement from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which said that "outdated information" may have been used to conclude that its vaccine was highly effective against Covid. "We have reviewed the preliminary assessment of the primary analysis and the results were consistent with the interim analysis," AstraZeneca said in a statement.
23rd Mar 2021 - RTE


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US trials find AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine safe and effective

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was 79 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in the United States, Chile and Peru, the company said on Monday, paving the way for it to apply for US approval. The vaccine was 100 per cent effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation and was safe, the drugmaker said on Monday, releasing results of the late-stage human trial study of more than 32,000 volunteers across all age groups. The data will give credence to the British shot after results from earlier, separate late-stage studies raised questions about the robustness of the data.
22nd Mar 2021 - The Irish Times

Mauritius approves Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine - Russian RDIF fund

Mauritius has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use against COVID-19, becoming the 55th country to do so, Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Monday.
22nd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Greece orders private doctors to join COVID-19 battle

Greece’s health minister is requisitioning the services of private sector doctors from certain specialties in the wider Athens region to help fight a renewed surge in coronavirus infections that is straining hospitals to their limits
22nd Mar 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19: Miami Beach imposes curfew for spring break

Huge crowds gather as Florida's governor says state is open, despite local authorities imposing restrictions
22nd Mar 2021 - BBC News

Hungary approves new Chinese vaccine, and CoviShield for emergency use

Hungary is the first European Union (EU) country to approve for emergency use China’s CanSino Biologics coronavirus vaccine and CoviShield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca shot, the Hungarian surgeon general said on Monday. New infections are surging in Hungary in a third wave of the pandemic, even as vaccine import and usage rates are among the highest in the EU with the country using Chinese and Russian vaccines as well as Western ones. If both new vaccines are also approved for mass use by the National Health Centre, Hungary will have seven sources to procure vaccines from. It was unclear when and in what quantity Hungary planned to deploy the newly authorised vaccines, or how it planned to buy them.
22nd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Doctors in Hungary urge volunteers to join overwhelmed COVID-19 wards

An appeal went out on Monday for volunteers to join hospital staff treating coronavirus patients in northwestern Hungary, as doctors said COVID-19 wards were overwhelmed, with the pressure only set to mount during the next few weeks. New infections are surging in Hungary, hard-hit by the third wave of the pandemic, despite vaccination rates at the top of European Union nations, as a proportion of population. Hungary was the first nation in the bloc to buy and use Chinese or Russian vaccines, as it said shipments from Western suppliers lagged.
22nd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Switzerland approves J&J COVID vaccine

Swiss regulators on Monday gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, after already authorising the jabs made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The Swissmedic regulatory authority said in a statement that it had authorised the use of the vaccine, which has the advantages of being a single-shot jab that can be stored with regular refrigeration rather than at ultra-cold temperatures. "Following a careful review of all the submitted documentation, Swissmedic has granted the 'COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen' temporary authorisation," it said.
22nd Mar 2021 - Medical Xpress

Venezuela announces ‘radical quarantine’ amid coronavirus surge

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced two weeks of what he referred to as “radical quarantine”, leaving Holy Week celebrations suspended. “I announce that Holy Week this year will be again in radical quarantine. So we are going to have fourteen days, two weeks of radical quarantine,” he said on Sunday, referring to a period that will encompass the Christian holiday of Easter. About 88 percent of Venezuela’s 28.5 million people are Christian, the vast majority of whom are Catholic.
22nd Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

‘Grotesque’: Producers urged to overcome vaccine inequity

More producers of COVID-19 vaccines should follow AstraZeneca’s lead and license technology to other manufacturers, the World Health Organization chief said on Monday, as he described continuing vaccine inequity as “grotesque”. AstraZeneca’s shot, which new US data showed was safe and effective despite some countries suspending inoculations over health concerns, is being produced in various locations including South Korea’s SKBioScience and the Serum Institute in India.
22nd Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

WHO: Global coronavirus deaths rise for 1st time in 6 weeks

A top World Health Organization expert on the coronavirus pandemic said Monday the weekly global count of deaths from COVID-19 is rising again, a "worrying sign" after about six weeks of declines. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the U.N. health agency, said the growth followed a fifth straight week of confirmed cases increasing worldwide. She said the number of reported cases went up up in four of the WHO's six regions, though there were significant variations within each region. "In the last week, cases have increased by 8% percent," Van Kerkhove told reporters. "In Europe, that is 12%—and that's driven by several countries." The increase is due in part to the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and is now circulating in many other places, including eastern Europe, she said.
22nd Mar 2021 - Medical Xpress


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EU export ban would delay UK Covid vaccine drive by two months

Britain’s Covid vaccine programme faces a two-month delay in the event of an EU export ban, derailing the government’s plans to reopen the economy this summer, an analysis for the Guardian reveals. A ban, due to be debated by leaders of the 27 EU member states on Thursday, would badly stall the UK vaccination effort, and would be likely to force the government to extend restrictions on people’s lives. It would not, however, provide a significant boost to EU member states’ troubled programmes, according to a report by the data analytics company Airfinity. The comparatively small number of doses that would be kept within the bloc would speed up the full vaccination of every adult in the EU by “just over a week”, the research suggests.
21st Mar 2021 - The Guardian

India sees largest increase in coronavirus cases since 2020

India reported the largest increase in coronavirus cases it has seen since 2020 as multiple states bring back some restrictions on public gatherings. As the Associated Press reports, India’s Health Ministry recorded 43,846 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, marking the worst single-day increase since November of last year. More than half of the new infections are found in the central state of Maharashtra, where India's financial capital of Mumbai is situated. Maharashtra has imposed new lockdown measures until the end of March, the AP reports and Mumbai authorities have announced that they will begin administering random required coronavirus tests in crowded spaces.
21st Mar 2021 - The Hill

Covid: Rich states 'block' vaccine plans for developing nations

Wealthy countries - including the UK - are blocking proposals to help developing nations increase their vaccine manufacturing capabilities, documents leaked to BBC Newsnight show. Several poorer countries have asked the World Health Organization to help them. But richer nations are pushing back on provisions in international law that would enable them to achieve this. This is according to a leaked copy of the negotiating text of a WHO resolution on the issue. Among those richer nations are the UK, the US, as well as the European Union.
21st Mar 2021 - BBC News

EU rebuffs UK calls to ship AstraZeneca COVID vaccines from Europe

The European Union is rebuffing British government calls to ship AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines produced in a factory in the Netherlands, an EU official said on Sunday. Former EU member Britain has so far administered many more vaccines than EU countries in proportion to the population. “The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them. That doesn’t work,” the official told Reuters. The Leiden-based plant which is run by sub-contractor Halix is listed as a supplier of vaccines in both the contracts that AstraZeneca has signed with Britain and with the European Union. “What is produced in Halix has to go to the EU,” the official added.
21st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Egypt gets more doses of Chinese coronavirus vaccine

Egypt received another 300,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in the early hours of Saturday, the health ministry said in a statement. The third shipment from China of the Sinopharm vaccine brings the total doses delivered to Egypt to 650,000 since December.‮ ‬Some 600,000 of those were a gift from Beijing and the rest were sent by the UAE. The North African country also got 50,000 doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in February.‮ ‬
20th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Greece lifts some COVID-19 restrictions to relieve lockdown fatigue

Greece will lift some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions next week as part of a plan to gradually reopen the economy and relieve national fatigue even as its hospitals remain under severe pressure from stubbornly high infections, authorities said on Friday. Hair and beauty salons and archaeological sites will open from Monday, Akis Skertsos, deputy minister to the prime minister, told a weekly news briefing. “It is imperative to provide some breaths of freedom, some depressurisation valves, so that the remaining measures can be complied with,” Skertsos said, adding that the government plans to provide free rapid tests to all citizens.
20th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Parts of France enter lockdown amid confusion and frustration

Nearly a third of French people entered a month-long lockdown on Saturday with many expressing fatigue and confusion over the latest set of restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. The government announced the new measures on Thursday after a jump in COVID-19 cases in Paris and parts of northern France. The new restrictions are less severe than those in place during the lockdowns of spring and November 2020, raising concerns that they may not be effective. “I hope it’s going to end quite quickly, although I have questions on how efficient the measures are,” Kasia Gluc, 57, a graphic editor said on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. There was frustration among so-called non-essential shop owners forced to close down.
20th Mar 2021 - Reuters

France restart using AstraZeneca vaccines but only for over 55s

France and almost a dozen other countries have resumed their rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, after temporarily suspending it following reports of it causing blood clots. The move comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed on Thursday that the jab was “safe and effective”. While insisting that its benefits far exceeded its risk, the EU’s medical regulator added that it could not “definitively” rule out a link between rare blood clots and the Anglo-Swedish company’s vaccine. As a result, the National Authority for Health (NAH), the French regulator, has decided to only administer AstraZeneca doses to the over-55s.
19th Mar 2021 - The Independent

Indonesia resumes use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

Indonesia on Friday cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for use again after the European Union s drug regulator said the vaccine didn't increase the overall incidence of blood clots. Southeast Asia’s biggest economy delayed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine after more than a dozen countries in Europe suspended the vaccine due to concerns of some people who received the vaccine developing blood clots. “The benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca outweigh the possible risks, so that we can start to use it,” Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority said in its announcement.
19th Mar 2021 - The Independent

WHO panel gives nod to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, has 'tremendous potential'

The World Health Organization (WHO) exhorted the world to keep administering AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shots on Friday, adding its endorsement to that of European and British regulators after concerns over blood clotting. "We urge countries to continue using this important COVID-19 vaccine," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva. He was speaking after the global health body's vaccine safety panel said available data about the AstraZeneca shot did not point to any overall increase in clotting conditions. European and British regulators also said this week that the benefits of AstraZeneca's shot outweighed the risks, prompting various nations to lift their suspensions.
19th Mar 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Bosnian capital tightens rules as COVID-19 deaths spike

Bosnia's capital is tightening measures against the new coronavirus as authorities struggle to cope with rising infections and a spike in deaths caused by COVID-19. Sarajevo has mourned dozens of victims this month, as daily new cases in Bosnia rose from just a few hundred to more than 1,700 this week. Twenty-one new deaths were reported in the capital on Friday alone. “This is a war without weapons,” said an elderly resident who identified himself only by his first name, Hajrudin.
19th Mar 2021 - The Independent

Denmark raises limit on public gatherings to 10 people

Denmark’s government on Thursday agreed with Parliament to raise the limit on public gatherings to 10 persons, while more schools and upper secondary educations will be allowed to resume from March 22, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
19th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Biden set to hit goal of 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in first 100 days over a month ahead of schedule

President Joe Biden is poised to hit a top goal he set for his first 100 days in the White House - 100 million vaccine shots in the arms of Americans - as early as Thursday, NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett reported. Before he was inaugurated, Biden underscored the importance of ramping up the pace of vaccination in the US. In early December, he unveiled a three-part plan to crush COVID-19 in his first 100 days - including complete 100 million vaccine shots. Biden's 100th day in office will be April 30, which means he's set to hit this goal over a month ahead of schedule.
18th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Ukraine's COVID-19 cases jump, capital Kyiv imposes tough restrictions

New coronavirus infections spiked to their highest level in Ukraine since November on Thursday, prompting the capital Kyiv to impose a tight lockdown for three weeks starting on Saturday. Kyiv’s lockdown echoes similar measures to be introduced by Lviv, the largest city in the west of the country, on Friday including closures of cafes, restaurants, non-food stores and a ban on public events. “We need to gain time and do everything to prevent the collapse of the medical system,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
18th Mar 2021 - Reuters

‘Safe and effective’: EU drug regulator backs AstraZeneca vaccine

The European Union drug regulator has said it has come to a “clear scientific conclusion” that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is “safe and effective” after several, mostly European, countries suspended its use following reports of blood clots among some recipients. Speaking during a news briefing on Thursday, Emer Cooke, head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said the AstraZeneca vaccine “is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots,” stressing once again that the jab’s benefits outweigh possible risks.
18th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Pakistan receives second batch of 500,000 vaccines from China

Pakistan has received a Chinese donation of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine, bringing the country’s total supply to one million shots, Health Minister Dr Faisal Sultan said. The South Asian nation of 220 million people launched COVID-19 vaccinations for the public on March 10, starting with older people. Health workers started receiving shots in early February.
18th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

India sticks to AstraZeneca vaccine ‘with full vigour’

India is not worried about some European Union countries suspending use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and will continue to roll out the shot in its huge immunisation programme “with full vigour”, a senior official said. The AstraZeneca shots are produced by India’s Serum Institute and known in the country as Covishield. The vaccine accounts for most of the 35 million coronavirus jabs administered in the country so far.
18th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Paris goes into lockdown as COVID-19 variant rampages

France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course. Since late January, when he defied the calls of scientists and some in his government to lock the country down, Macron has said he would do whatever it took to keep the euro zone’s second largest economy as open as possible. However, this week he ran out of options just as France and other European countries briefly suspended use of the AstraZenca vaccine. His prime minister, Jean Castex, said France was in the grip of a third wave, with the virulent variant first detected in Britain now accounting for some 75% of cases. Intensive care wards are under severe strain, notably in Paris where the incidence rate surpasses 400 infections in every 100,000 inhabitants.
18th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Covid US: White House to send surge shipments of vaccines to emerging hotspots

The White House is currently making plans to send massive shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to emerging hotspots in the U.S. Two senior administration officials told CNN the Biden administration is very worried that the number of Americans traveling over Spring Break will lead to a fourth surge of the coronavirus. Members of the federal government's COVID-19 response team have been scouring data to project where outbreaks of the virus might pop up and plotting different potential scenarios. In an attempt to avoid this, officials plan to speed up the vaccine rollout and inoculate Americans who are at the highest risk.
17th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail

Australia gives COVID-19 shots to virus-hit Papua New Guinea

Australia will send COVID-19 vaccines from its own supply to its near-neighbor Papua New Guinea and will ask AstraZeneca to send more to try to contain a concerning wave of infections, Australia's prime minister said Wednesday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 8,000 doses would be sent next week for Papua New Guinea's front-line health workers and he and his Papua New Guinea counterpart James Marape would ask AstraZeneca to send another 1 million doses as soon as possible. The European Union this month blocked a shipment of more than 250,000 doses to Australia because the need for them was not considered great enough in a country largely successful in containing the coronavirus.
17th Mar 2021 - The Independent

India backs AstraZeneca shot as COVID-19 cases hit three-month high

India said on Wednesday its coronavirus immunisation campaign would continue with “full rigour” despite some concerns in Europe about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine it relies heavily upon as infections hit a three month high. The European Medicines Agency is investigating reports of 30 cases of unusual blood disorders out of 5 million recipients of the vaccine in the region. Since starting the drive in mid-January, India has administered 36 million vaccine doses, which are mostly the AstraZeneca shots developed with Oxford University and locally known as Covishield.
17th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Germany extends border control with Czech Republic, Tyrol

Germany has extended border control with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region, Interior Minster Horst Seehofer said on Wednesday, citing the current number of new coronavirus infections and more virus variant cases. “We decided today to extend border controls in mutation areas in the Czech Republic and Austria,” Seehofer said. The control was reinstated on Feb. 14, following the introduction of a stricter lockdown in the Czech Republic.
17th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Poland announces nationwide lockdown amid COVID-19 surge

Poland’s health minister announced a nationwide lockdown on Wednesday, as the country battles a surge in coronavirus cases. Theatres, shopping malls, hotels and cinemas will be closed starting on Saturday, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference. Poland reported 25,052 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to health ministry data, the highest daily number so far this year
17th Mar 2021 - Reuters

UAE offers third shot of Chinese vaccine in some cases

The United Arab Emirates is offering people who have shown weak immunity after two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine a third shot of the Chinese jab as booster. Healthcare authorities have told anyone who fears they are not immune after taking an antibody test after their second dose to return to the centre where they were vaccinated. “The vast majority of people have taken Sinopharm and it shows a good response,” said a doctor working at a government hospital. “The booster is only needed if you don’t mount an immune response after two jabs.”
17th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

After vaccine freeze, European countries seek a quick thaw

First, France abruptly halted AstraZeneca vaccinations. Now, the French prime minister wants to get one as soon as he can. With the virus rebounding from Paris to Budapest and beyond, European governments that rushed to suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccines after reports of blood clots are realizing the far-reaching impact of the move. And they suddenly seem eager for any signal — or fig leaf — that allows them to resume the shots. That could come as soon as Thursday, when the European Medicines Agency releases initial results of its investigations into whether there is a connection between the vaccine and the blood clots. So far, the EMA and World Health Organization have said there’s no evidence the vaccine is to blame.
17th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

Palestinians get 60,000 vaccine doses through WHO program

The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday it will receive just over 60,000 coronavirus vaccine doses over the next 48 hours, the first shipment provided by a World Health Organization partnership aimed at helping poor countries. That’s only enough doses to vaccinate 31,000 people out of a population of nearly 5 million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israel, which has faced criticism for not sharing more of its supplies with the Palestinians, has already vaccinated 5 million people — more than half of its population — and has largely reopened its economy.
17th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

Syria launches COVID vaccine drive as Israel questions swirl

The Syrian government finally kicked off its vaccination campaign against the novel coronavirus in the war-torn country last week. Al Jazeera learned through reliable sources that Bashar al-Assad’s government received 5,000 doses from a country it refused to name and simply described as “friendly”. The first jabs were given to front-line health workers spread across several main hospitals in the country. But many in government-controlled and rebel-held areas are worried they might be left out of the vaccination drive if it is carried out without any international oversight. Moreover, while the government is being furtive about which vaccine it received and who has footed the bill, many in Syria say it is an open secret it is Russia’s Sputnik V that was bought by Israel – reportedly under a prisoner exchange deal.
17th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Manila Orders Anyone Below 18 to Stay Indoors as Virus Cases Surge

The Philippine capital Manila will widen a ban on minors leaving their residences to include youths of up to 18 years old for two weeks starting on Wednesday, tightening coronavirus restrictions in a bid to tackle a new surge of infections. Only those aged 18-65 years old will be allowed out of their homes, the Metro Manila Development Authority said in a statement, citing an agreement among mayors. The Philippines late last year started easing one of the world's longest and strictest lockdowns though a rule that anyone under 15 must stay indoors in Manila remained in place. The Southeast Asian country has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases this month, recording the largest daily increase since mid-August on Monday with 5,404 new infections. Nighttime curfews have been reimposed since Monday for two weeks in Metropolitan Manila, the country's coronavirus hotspot that is home to more than 12 million people.
16th Mar 2021 - U.S. News & World Report


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China approves another COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

China has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, one that was developed by the head of its Center for Disease Control, adding a fifth shot to its arsenal. Gao Fu, the head of China's CDC, led the development of a protein subunit vaccine that was approved by regulators last week for emergency use, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology said. It is the fifth coronavirus vaccine approved in China and the fourth to be given emergency use approval. The latest vaccine was developed jointly by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
16th Mar 2021 - ABC News

Belgium will continue using AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, task force says

AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, of which other countries have temporarily halted the use due to health risks, will still be administered in Belgium, the Vaccination Task Force confirmed. Earlier in the afternoon, the Superior Health Council had made this decision, based on scientific advice from European and Belgian experts, with which the interministerial conference on public health later agreed. “It would be irresponsible to suspend vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine right now,” said Minister of Public Health, Frank Vandenbroucke.
16th Mar 2021 - The Brussels Times

Canada changes tack, recommends use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people over 65

Canada’s vaccine advisory panel on Tuesday backed the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and older after initially recommending against it, saying that three recent real-world studies showed the shot to be safe and effective for older adults. Canada has not followed several European countries that suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of serious blood clots following vaccination. A Health Canada official said clots look to be less common, not more common, among people who have been vaccinated.
16th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Boris Johnson faces explosive claims of Covid-19 complacency which led to 'more deaths'

The Prime Minister reportedly suggested the best way to deal with Coronavirus would be to "ignore it" - and there was allegedly talk of encouraging "chicken pox parties" in order to let the virus burn through healthy Brits, creating "herd immunity"
16th Mar 2021 - Mirror Online

Venezuela won’t authorise AstraZeneca vaccine due to safety fears

Venezuela has announced that it will not authorise AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after several European countries suspended their rollouts of the jab due to possible side effects. “Venezuela will not authorise the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the process of immunising our population due to complications” in vaccinated patients, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on public television on Monday. Venezuela – which began its coronavirus vaccination campaign in February with Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm jabs – had reserved between 1.4 and 2.4 million AstraZeneca doses through the COVAX plan
16th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Thai PM gets AstraZeneca jab, 1 Asian country suspends

Thailand’s prime minister received a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca on Tuesday, as much of Asia shrugged off concerns about reports of blood clots in some recipients in Europe, saying that so far there is no evidence to link the two. Many countries using the vaccine also said the benefits from inoculation far outweighed possible risks, even as parts of Europe suspended it pending investigation of potential side effects. AstraZeneca has developed a manufacturing base in Asia, and the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has been contracted by the company to produce a billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations. Hundreds of millions more are to be manufactured this year in Australia, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
16th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press


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Exclusive: Mexico focuses vaccine loan request on U.S. stockpile of AstraZeneca doses

Portugal extended a ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil by another two weeks on Monday to March 31, with only humanitarian and repatriation flights allowed, the interior ministry said in a statement. Direct commercial or private flights to and from the countries have been banned since January to limit the spread of novel coronavirus variants. As of March 7, passengers flying indirectly to Portugal from Britain or Brazil have also had to present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
16th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Germany, Italy, France suspend AstraZeneca shots amid safety fears, disrupting EU vaccinations

Portugal extended a ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil by another two weeks on Monday to March 31, with only humanitarian and repatriation flights allowed, the interior ministry said in a statement. Direct commercial or private flights to and from the countries have been banned since January to limit the spread of novel coronavirus variants. As of March 7, passengers flying indirectly to Portugal from Britain or Brazil have also had to present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
16th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Most of Italy to shut down to tackle rising Covid-19 cases

The entire country will be put on lockdown for three days over the Easter weekend says Italy's leaders.
15th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Government's failure to share data and face scrutiny have undermined response, say MPs

The UK government’s failure to share the data behind its decisions during the covid pandemic it likely to have undermined its response and placed a “needless strain on public confidence,” MPs have said in a damning report. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee emphasised the importance of publishing the data used to justify policy decisions and accused the government of wilfully evading scrutiny. Looking to the next few months, the committee said the government must now provide “absolute clarity” on the data underpinning the easing of restrictions to “live up to the prime minister’s commitment to ‘data, not dates.’” The government must also stop “moving the goalposts” when it comes to lockdown and tiering decisions and should outline, in its response to this report, the range of data and information it would use to lift current and future lockdowns, the committee said.
15th Mar 2021 - The BMJ

Norway's capital introduces tightest restrictions of pandemic

Norway's capital will close all middle and high schools and limit visitors in private homes to two people until early April to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the Governing Mayor of Oslo said on Monday.
15th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Brazil signs Pfizer deal for 100 million vaccine doses: source

Brazil has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc to purchase 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday. Brazilian officials have flagged their interest in a deal since President Jair Bolsonaro joined Pfizer executives on a video call last week, burying the hatchet after months of recriminations about stalled negotiations.
15th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Thailand clears AstraZeneca use as potential side-effects divide Europe

Thailand will start using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday after a brief delay over safety concerns, officials said, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and cabinet members due to be first in line to get shots. Thailand was on Friday the first country outside of Europe to suspend use of the AstraZeneca shot, on which its mass vaccination campaign is heavily reliant. Authorities in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands have halted their use of the vaccine over blood clotting issues, while Indonesia has decided to hold off until a World Health Organization review. Thailand has much riding on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and the country will from June be one of its regional manufacturers. Thailand has reserved the first 61 million doses for its population.
15th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Draghi announces new Italian lockdown and fresh support for economy

Mario Draghi said his Italian government would launch a new economic package to support the country during fresh Covid-19 lockdown measures coming into force from next week amid a surge in cases. The prime minister said he would boost support for struggling workers and businesses, as well as tripling the number of vaccines being administered daily during a new lockdown that will last until the first week of April. “More than a year after the beginning of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of contagions,” Draghi said. “The memory of what happened last spring is alive, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.”
12th Mar 2021 - The Financial Times

Australia joins US, India and Japan in 'unprecedented' deal for coronavirus vaccines after historic Quad meeting

Scott Morrison has joined the first leaders' summit of Joe Biden's US presidency, forging a new strategic partnership and vaccination alliance with four of the Indo-Pacific region's most-powerful democracies. The US President hosted the video link-up from the State Dining Room of the White House with the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan. It was the first time the four-member regional grouping known as the Quad had ever convened with heads of government at the table. The partnership has had a faltering history and is usually viewed as a bloc to counter China. But in its latest incarnation, Quad members have given it a new, broader purpose to cooperate on what Mr Biden calls "practical solutions and concrete results" to global problems, including COVID-19, climate change and cyber security.
14th Mar 2021 - ABC News

Coronavirus: Chile becomes Latin America's COVID-19 vaccination champion

After being among the world's hardest-hit nations with COVID-19, Chile is now near the top among countries at vaccinating its population against the virus. With more than 25% of its people having received at least one shot, the country of 19 million on South America's Pacific coast is the champion of Latin America, and globally it is just behind Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. That's a far cry from the beginning of the pandemic, when Chile was criticized over its inability to trace and isolate infected people.
14th Mar 2021 - CTV News

COVID-19: Ireland suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting concerns

Ireland has temporarily halted its use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after some reports of blood clots. The move came after a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred after the jab, despite the World Health Organisation having sought to downplay concerns and urge countries to keep using it. The vaccine will continue to be administered in Northern Ireland, however, after the country's health body sought advice from the UK's medicine regulator.
14th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Cyprus pulls back on wider easing of COVID-19 restrictions

Cyprus has put the brakes on a wider loosening of COVID-19 restrictions by keeping middle school students at home for two more weeks as the infection rate remains high partly because of how widespread the U.K. variant has become
13th Mar 2021 - The Independent

All coronavirus restrictions lifted from New Zealand's largest city

All remaining restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland have been lifted after no locally transmitted cases of coronavirus were reported for two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Ardern imposed a seven-day lockdown on the city of 1.7 million after a cluster of cases were detected domestically. The lockdown was eased earlier this month but some restrictions were retained, including limits on large public gatherings under an alert level 2 setting.
13th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Tunisia starts vaccination campaign with Sputnik V shots

Tunisia launched its vaccination campaign on Saturday, four days after receiving the first 30,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines. First up for a shot in the arm in the North African country were health care workers, soldiers and security officers, plus people over 65 and people with chronic health problems. The opening round of vaccinations was held in a field hospital set up in a sports complex in the El Mensah district of Tunis, the capital. Mehrzia El Hammami, a 54-year-old nursing supervisor at Bardo Hospital, was the first person to be inoculated.
13th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

US surpasses 100 million COVID vaccinations

More than 100 million people in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine jab, the national public health agency reported, as the Biden administration works to speed up vaccinations countrywide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said more than 101 million jabs had been administered since the country’s inoculation programme began late last year.
13th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Covid-19 pandemic: Italy to shut shops and schools amid infection spike

Shops, restaurants and schools will be closed across most of Italy on Monday, with PM Mario Draghi warning of a "new wave" of the coronavirus outbreak. For three days over Easter, 3-5 April, there will be a total shutdown. Italy, which one year ago imposed one of the first national lockdowns, is once again struggling to contain the rapid spread of infections. The country has reported more than 100,000 Covid-related deaths, Europe's second-highest tally after the UK.
13th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Trudeau: Every Canadian will be able to get vaccine by September

Every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of September Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, committing to a timeline he made late last year. In a news conference, Trudeau said drugmaker Pfizer will begin delivering one million COVID-19 vaccine doses every week starting on March 22, until May 10. “That’s gonna make a big difference,” Trudeau said. “Every dose makes a difference.” “Everyone who wants a vaccine in Canada will be able to get one by the end of September,” he said. The move doubles the current supply from Pfizer, officials said. Trudeau also announced that drugmaker AstraZeneca will be delivering 20 million doses by the end of the year.
12th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Biden says all adults in US will be eligible for coronavirus vaccine by May 1

Joe Biden said every US adult would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccination by May 1, as he touted “some real progress” in America’s fight against the pandemic and set the July 4 Independence Day holiday as a target for a return to some normality. The goals were announced by the president during his first televised primetime address to the nation, which combined a more optimistic assessment of America’s ability to tame the virus with an emotional appeal for the country to keep its guard up against the disease. “I need you, I need every American to do their part,” Biden said. “That will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but begin to mark our independence from this virus.”
12th Mar 2021 - Financial Times

WHO lists J&J COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it has listed the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, which adds a more agile option for immunizing people in developing countries. In another vaccine development, the WHO said its safety committee is reviewing reports of blood clots in people who have received doses from certain batches of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, but emphasized that the vaccine can be used while the probe is underway.
12th Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Two months into COVID-19 lockdown, Portugal to gradually lift rules

Nearly two months into a lockdown imposed in mid-January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge, Portugal’s government announced on Thursday it would start to gradually ease its strict rules from next week.
11th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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Biden aims for quicker shots, 'independence from this virus'

One year after the nation was brought to a near-standstill by the coronavirus, President Joe Biden pledged in his first prime-time address Thursday night to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 and raised the possibility of beginning to “mark our independence from this virus” by the Fourth of July. He offered Americans fresh hope and appealed anew for their help. Speaking in the White House East Room, Biden honored the “collective suffering” of Americans over the past year in his 24-minute address and then offered them a vision for a return to a modicum of normalcy this summer. “We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by,” he said. “We are also bound together by the hope and the possibilities in the days in front of us.”
12th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

COVID-19: France faces challenge to persuade millions of vaccine sceptics to take jab

As much of the world desperately seeks COVID vaccines, there is evidence in France that millions of people are reluctant to have a jab. The most recent polls suggest around half of the adult population may refuse a vaccination - leading health professionals to worry about public safety long term. French health sociologist Dr Caroline De Pauw speaks to us from the University of Lille and says that fear and scepticism are rooted in past health scares especially over the hepatitis B vaccine in the 1990s.
11th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Oxford-AstraZeneca: EU regulator says 'no indication' vaccine linked to blood clots

There is no indication that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is linked to an increased risk of blood clots, the EU's medicines regulator says.It said the number of cases in vaccinated people was no higher than in the general population. The statement came after a number of countries, including Denmark and Norway, suspended the use of the jab. The suspension followed reports that a small number of people had developed clots after receiving the vaccine. There were also reports that a 50-year-old man had died in Italy after developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) following a dose of the jab. "There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine," the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday.
11th Mar 2021 - BBC News

Seven European countries clamp down on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as safety worries threaten rollout

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has gotten off to a rocky start in Europe—to put it mildly. First, a supply shortfall triggered a public back-and-forth between executives and government officials. Then several countries expressed doubts about how well the vaccine works in people over 65. Now seven countries are raising safety concerns. Denmark, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have halted some or all of their AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccinations over fears of blood clots, France24 reports. Previously, Austria had stopped using a single batch of the vaccine after a clotting issue turned up in one recipient. In the wake of the news, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg stopped using vaccines from the same batch, France24 reports. Denmark and Norway temporarily stopped all vaccinations with AZ shots, according to the report.
11th Mar 2021 - Fierce Pharma

Investigation: Drugmaker ‘bullied’ Latin American nations

Drugmaker Pfizer employed “high-level bullying” against at least two Latin American countries during negotiations to acquire vaccines according to a recent investigation, including requesting the nations put sovereign assets as collateral for payments. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), a UK-based nonprofit media organisation in an investigation unveiled in February said the pharmaceutical company’s negotiation technique led to a months-long delay in reaching a deal in one country, and the total failure to reach an agreement with two others, Argentina and Brazil. According to the yearlong investigation, which relied on unnamed officials, Pfizer “bullied” nations during talks.
11th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

EU drugs regulator clears J&J's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine

Europe approved Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, paving the way for the first shots to be delivered in a month as the bloc seeks to speed up a stuttering inoculation campaign and boost its supplies. The COVID-19 shot is the fourth to be endorsed for use in the European Union after vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Moderna, and is recommended for those over 18 years of age, the European Medicines agency (EMA) said. It’s the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
11th Mar 2021 - Reuters


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South Korea to Prioritize Coronavirus Vaccines for Olympic Athletes

South Korea will prioritize vaccinating Olympic athletes before they travel to Japan for the Tokyo Games this summer. The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that South Korea is making an exception for the athletes and allowing them to skip vaccine priority. Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is available to health care workers and staff and residents of nursing facilities. The general public will not be able to receive the vaccine until July.
10th Mar 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

Morocco, Kenya approve Russian coronavirus vaccine for use - RDIF

Morocco and Kenya have approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use against the new coronavirus, Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Wednesday. The fund, which is promoting the vaccine globally, said that 48 countries had now approved Sputnik V for use.
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters

European Commission says Pfizer and BioNTech to supply 4 million more coronavirus vaccine doses

The European Commission said Wednesday that Pfizer and BioNTech will provide 4 million more doses of their coronavirus vaccine in the next two weeks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the doses are on top of planned dose deliveries. Regions like Tyrol in Austria, Nice and Moselle in France, Bolzano in Italy and some parts of Bavaria and Saxony in Germany have seen rising infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks, the European Commission said.
10th Mar 2021 - MarketWatch

Montenegro appeals to EU, NATO for medical staff to help it fight COVID-19

Montenegro appealed to the European Union and NATO to send it medical workers to help exhausted health services battle a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic in the tiny Adriatic nation, its leading newspaper reported on Wednesday. So far 1,902 people in the ex-Yugoslav republic of 620,000 have died from COVID-19 while 80,803 have contracted the respiratory disease. On Tuesday it reported 612 new infections, bringing the total of those currently ill to 9,063. Montenegro, a member of NATO and candidate to join the EU, began inoculating its population with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on Feb. 20 but has struggled to contain COVID-19 contagion
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Portugal approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for over-65s

Portugal’s health authority said on Wednesday it had approved the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for those aged over 65 as new studies revealed its effectiveness in preventing infection and lowering hospitalisations among elderly people. The decision means that all people aged over 18 can now receive the shot, the DGS authority said, after it was approved for those under 65 in late January. Portugal, a nation of just over 10 million people, faced a tough battle against the pandemic in January, but the number of daily infections and fatalities has dropped sharply since then.
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters

UNICEF chief: $1 billion more needed for COVAX COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The United Nations’ children’s fund on Wednesday urged countries to contribute more money to help poor countries access coronavirus vaccines, saying around $1 billion was needed. UNICEF, the world’s single largest vaccine buyer, is part of the World Health Organization-backed COVAX programme to supply COVID-19 shots to emerging economies. “We have been asking the world for more funding ... for UNICEF and our distribution to countries we still need about $1 billion,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said at a virtual event organised by Dubai’s World Government Summit.
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters

South Korea extends use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 65 and over

South Korea will extend vaccination for people aged 65 years and older with AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine to ramp up its immunisation drive, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting on Thursday. The country has been rolling out the vaccine since the last week of February, beginning with the elderly and health workers, but had excluded more than 370,000 over-65s in nursing homes citing a lack of clinical trial data on the age group. Real-world data from Britain has now shown AstraZeneca and Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines are both more than 80% effective in preventing hospitalisations in over-80s after one shot. “Vaccination had been postponed to those aged 65 and over due to lack of evidence to determine the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but recently, data to prove its efficacy for the elderly has been released in the UK,” Chung said.
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Mexico to rely heavily on Chinese vaccines

Mexico announced a huge bet on Chinese vaccines Tuesday, without making public any information about their efficacy. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the Mexican government has signed agreements for 12 million doses of the yet-unapproved Sinopharm vaccine and increased to a total of 20 million doses its contracts for the Coronavac dose made by China’s Sinovac. Deliveries of Sinovac have already started, with the full 20 million doses expected by July. The Sinopharm vaccines are to be delivered between March and June.
10th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

Australia unveils $928 million coronavirus support package to revive airlines, tourism

The Australian government unveiled a A$1.2 billion ($928 million) tourism support package on Thursday, aimed at boosting local travel while international routes remain closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The government will subsidise 800,000 tickets on domestic flights to 13 destinations around the country that mostly rely on international tourists, and offer cheap loans to small tourism operators. “Our tourism businesses don’t want to rely on government support forever, they want their tourists back,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. “This package, combined with our vaccine roll-out ... is the bridge that will help get them back to normal trading.” The government will subsidise 800,000 tickets on domestic flights to 13 destinations around the country that mostly rely on international tourists, and offer cheap loans to small tourism operators.
10th Mar 2021 - Reuters Australia

'It's an atomic bomb': Scientists warn that Brazil's Covid catastrophe threatens to drag out the pandemic worldwide as the variant that emerged there and can reinfect people spreads around the globe

Brazil's P1 variant is now dominant there, has caused a second wave even worse than the hard-hit country's first and has put the health care system on the brink The variant is thought to be 1.4 to 2.2 times more transmissible than older variants and has reinfected people who already had COVID-19 in Brazil. Control measures and vaccinations are shoddy in Brazil, where 2,000 people died of COVID-19 yesterday. Experts compare the out-of-control situation in Brazil to 'an atomic bomb' As long Brazil or other countries have uncontrolled spread, variants could keep emerging and triggering new Covid waves around the world
10th Mar 2021 - Daily Mail


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Coronavirus: Israel celebrates 5 millionth coronavirus vaccination

Israel's leaders Monday celebrated the country's 5 millionth coronavirus vaccination on the same day the government began vaccinating Palestinian labourers who work in the country. The time lag has drawn international criticism and highlighted global disparities. There was no indication the two events were co-ordinated, but their split-screen quality offered a stark contrast between Israel's world-leading vaccination blitz and the plight of 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Progress in places like Israel, the United States and Britain has heightened concerns among human rights advocates of driving a wider gap between wealthy countries and those that can't afford pricey vaccination programs.
9th Mar 2021 - CTV News

Swiss company to produce Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccine in Italy

The Russian Direct Investment Fund is set to cooperate with Swiss-based Adienne Pharma & Biotech for Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine production in Italy, chief executive of RDIF Kirill Dmitriev said.
9th Mar 2021 - Business Standard

COVID-19: UK reports under 100 new coronavirus deaths for second day running

Another 65 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the UK - the second day running that the number has been below 100. It compares to 82 posted on Sunday, which was the first time the tally had fallen to double figures since 9 October, when 79 fatalities were recorded. There have been another 4,712 confirmed coronavirus cases, compared to 5,177 on Sunday. It is the first time since 28 September that daily cases have been below 5,000, when 4,044 were recorded. The latest death and infection numbers are down on last Monday's totals of 104 and 5,455 respectively.
9th Mar 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19 vaccines and stimulus plans will aid global growth, says OECD

The west’s leading economic thinktank has sharply upgraded its forecasts for global growth this year as a result of successful vaccine programmes and fresh stimulus packages to combat Covid-19. In an interim outlook, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said it expected the world economy to expand by 5.6% this year – up from 4.2% three months ago – and to recover the ground lost since the start of the pandemic by the middle of the year. Laurence Boone, the OECD chief economist, said: “The world economy is doing a bit better. Firms have adjusted and some countries have accelerated vaccinations and so are reopening their economies. I don’t want to sound overoptimistic because a lot of the predictions are based on the assumption that vaccination will accelerate and that the race between vaccines and the virus will be won by the vaccines.”
9th Mar 2021 - The Guardian

US daily COVID-19 death toll below 1,000 for first time in months

For the first time in nearly three and a half months, the United States has recorded fewer than 1,000 deaths in a day from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the last 24 hours, 749 people died from the coronavirus, far below the peak of 4,473 deaths recorded on January 12, according to the data. The daily US death toll has not been below the 1,000 mark since November 29, when 822 people died in a 24-hour period. The US has recorded more than 29 million infections and 525,000 deaths since the pandemic began, the most in both metrics of any country in the world. However, last week, it also became the top country in terms of administered vaccines.
9th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Exclusive: Quad nations meeting to announce financing to boost India vaccine output - U.S. official

A first ever leaders’ meeting of the Quad group of countries on Friday plans to announce financing agreements to support an increase in manufacturing capacity for coronavirus vaccines in India, a senior U.S administration official told Reuters. The financing agreements will be between the United States, Japan and others and focus particularly on companies and institutions in India manufacturing vaccines for American drugmakers Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson, the official, who did not want to be identified by name, said. The aim of the initiative by the Quad, which groups the United States, India, Japan and Australia, would be to reduce manufacturing backlogs, speed vaccination, and defeat some coronavirus mutations, the official said.
9th Mar 2021 - Reuters

‘Justifiably unhappy’: Bosnia FM slams lack of COVAX vaccines

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s foreign minister has voiced anger over the fact that her country has yet to receive any of the promised vaccines from the European Union-backed COVAX scheme, saying Bosnians are “justifiably unhappy”. “We expect COVAX to fulfil its contractual obligations,” Bosnian foreign minister Bisera Turkovic told a news conference during a visit to the German capital, Berlin on Tuesday. he said Bosnia had met its obligations and paid for more than 1.2 million doses through the international COVAX scheme, a global vaccine-sharing effort, but “not a single dose” has arrived to date. “Our citizens are justifiably unhappy,” Turkovic told reporters, speaking alongside German foreign minister Heiko Maas. “Every day counts. We’re talking about people’s lives,” she said, in remarks translated to German.
9th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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Brazil to get extra 5 million COVID-19 doses from Pfizer: economy minister

Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said on Monday that Pfizer Inc will deliver an additional 5 million COVID-19 vaccination doses, which would increase the number of shots expected from the drugmaker by the end of June to 14 million. Speaking in Brasilia, Guedes said President Jair Bolsonaro had spoken with the global head of Pfizer and was scheduled to speak with the head of Janssen, the pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The government last week said it intended to buy 100 million doses from Pfizer and 38 million from Janssen through the end of December.
8th Mar 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator urges caution on Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine

A senior European Medicines Agency (EMA) official urged European Union members on Sunday to refrain from granting national approvals for Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V while the agency reviews its safety and effectiveness. "We need documents that we can review. We also don't at the moment have data...about vaccinated people. It is unknown. That's why I would urgently advise against giving a national emergency authorisation," EMA managing board head Christa Wirthumer-Hoche told a talk show on Austrian broadcaster ORF. "We can have Sputnik V on the market here in future when the appropriate data have been reviewed. The rolling review has begun now at EMA," she added after the agency said last week it had launched such a review.
8th Mar 2021 - CTV News

East Timor imposes first coronavirus lockdown over outbreak fears

The tiny Southeast Asian nation of East Timor will put its capital city on a coronavirus lockdown for the first time, its government said on Monday, amid fears it could be facing its first local outbreak. A "sanitary fence and mandatory confinement" will be imposed in Dili for seven days from midnight Monday with residents asked to stay home unless necessary to leave, the country's council of ministers said in statement. It said the measure was because of a "high probability of community transmission", but did not elaborate. "It is forbidden to travel, by land, sea or air, out of this municipality, except in duly justified cases for reasons of safety, public health, humanitarian or other that are necessary for the accomplishment of the public interest," it said.
8th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News UK

NZ will have enough Pfizer vaccine doses for entire population

New Zealand will buy additional COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which will be enough to vaccinate the whole country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. The government has signed an agreement to buy an extra 8.5 million doses, enough to vaccinate more than 4 million people, Ardern said, adding the vaccines were expected to reach the country in the second half of the year. “This brings our total Pfizer order to 10 million doses or enough for 5 million people to get the two shots needed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” Ardern said in a statement.
8th Mar 2021 - The Sydney Morning Herald

Canada takes steps to make 'feminist' budget addressing women's post-pandemic challenges

Canada on Monday unveiled an all-woman task force to ensure that its upcoming budget, set to include billions in post-pandemic stimulus spending, includes measures to get women working and address gender inequality. The Task Force on Women in the Economy will also advise the federal government on actions to address gender imbalances exacerbated by COVID-19. Canadian women are more likely than men to have lost jobs in the pandemic, and three times more women than men have left the labor force entirely since February 2020.
8th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Israel starts vaccinating Palestinian workers after delays

Israel, which has faced criticism for excluding Palestinians from its vaccination campaign, started to inoculate Palestinians working in the country and in settlments in the occupied West Bank, more than two months after launching an immunisation blitz of its own population. Palestinian labourers who crossed into Israel at several occupied West Bank checkpoints received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday. Some 100,000 Palestinian labourers from the West Bank work in Israel and its settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
8th Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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COVID-19: Dalai Lama given first coronavirus vaccine dose - as he urges others to be brave and take jab

The Dalai Lama has received his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. After being given a jab at the Zonal Hospital in north India, the 85-year-old spiritual leader urged others to be brave and get vaccinated. "In order to prevent some serious problems, this injection is very, very helpful," he said.
7th Mar 2021 - Sky News

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive in Uganda

Uganda received 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on March 5, shipped under the international COVAX initiative. “The long awaited Covid Vaccines are here,” tweeted Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine. “The vaccines are safe and efficacious.” The Ministry of Health said that vaccinations would begin on March 10, and proceed in a phased rollout with the most at risk receiving doses first.
7th Mar 2021 - Yahoo News

Covid-19: the UK's herd immunity gamble cost lives

'Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus' by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott is published on March 18. A year ago this week, as the rest of the world was shutting down, 250,000 people converged on Cheltenham races. In an extract from their book, Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott reveal why the event was allowed to go ahead
7th Mar 2021 - The Times

NHS pay rise row: Government accused of 'snatching away NHS pay rise of 2.1%' as union backlash grows

The government has been accused of "snatching away" a previously suggested pay rise of 2.1% for NHS workers, as four major unions expressed their dismay at the 1% increase on offer. NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, said a long-term plan set out years ago by the government had assumed a pay rise of more than 2% for healthcare workers in 2021/22. The proposed pay rise for this year has been set at 1%, prompting anger from unions and opposition MPs.
6th Mar 2021 - Sky News

China provides COVID-19 vaccines to Arab countries

China provided on Thursday a batch of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines to the Arab League general secretariat in Cairo, fulfilling its promise to share the vaccines with other countries. The league's Assistant Secretary-General, Hossam Zaki, expressed his appreciation for China's medical assistance to the pan-Arab body. He said China's medical support will effectively enhance the anti-epidemic capabilities of the Arab world. "The Arab countries are willing to maintain long-term friendly cooperative relations with China and push the Arab-Chinese strategic partnership to a higher level," the AL senior official said.
6th Mar 2021 - China Daily

COVID-19 vaccine confidence is growing, global survey suggests

A survey of 14 countries* which ran between November 2020 and February 2021 found that almost 6 in 10 people (58%) would take a vaccine if it was offered to them now and that willingness has risen in 9 of the countries. Led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) in collaboration with YouGov, more than 13,500 people took part in each survey, which has also highlighted major differences in attitudes towards vaccines around the globe.
5th Mar 2021 - Imperial College London

China says it aims to vaccinate 40% of population by June

Health experts in China say their country is lagging in its coronavirus vaccination rollout because it has the disease largely under control, but plans to inoculate 40% of its population by June. Zhong Nanshan, the leader of a group of experts attached to the National Health Commission, said the country has delivered 52.52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Feb. 28. He was speaking Monday at an online forum between U.S and Chinese medical experts hosted by the Brookings Institution and Tsinghua University. The target is the first China has offered publicly since it began its mass immunization campaign for key groups in mid-December.
5th Mar 2021 - Associated Press

France, EU back Italy's decision to block Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia

Europe’s vaccine solidarity got a boost on Friday after France said it could emulate Italy’s move to block coronavirus vaccine exports outside the European Union if that’s what is needed to enforce the bloc’s own contracts with drugs manufacturers. The European Union defended the Italian authorities’ decision to stop a large shipment of doses destined for Australia as part of a longstanding feud with drug manufacturer AstraZeneca, and Germany. The EU’s executive arm said the decision was not targeting Australia but that it had been taken to ensure that AstraZeneca delivers the number of doses it committed to dispatching to EU countries.
5th Mar 2021 - FRANCE 24 English

Hungary tightens pandemic restrictions amid rising deaths

Authorities in Hungary are tightening pandemic restrictions in an effort to mitigate a rapid rise in deaths and hospitalizations caused by COVID-19. Businesses will be required to close their doors for two weeks beginning Monday, with only grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations permitted to remain open. Kindergartens and primary schools will also be closed until April 7. Sporting events may only be held without spectators, and businesses are urged to allow employees to work from home.
5th Mar 2021 - The Independent

Uruguay starts vaccination campaign, last in South America

Uruguay, the last country in South America to receive delivery of coronavirus vaccines, started its inoculation campaign Monday with a focus on teachers, soldiers, police and firefighters. Some 90 vaccination centers countrywide opened their doors to give a first dose of the Chinese CoronaVac shot to some 140,000 essential workers, almost a year to the day since the country recorded its first cases of Covid-19 on March 13. "Today we have the means to confront this scourge," Health Minister Daniel Salinas told reporters, adding that Uruguay had secured orders for all the vaccines necessary to immunize everyone 18 and older in the country of 3.4 million people.
1st Mar 2021 - YAHOO!News


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Japan to extend Tokyo area state of emergency to March 21

The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency to combat COVID-19 for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures until March 21, two weeks longer than originally scheduled, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday. Under the state of emergency, the government has requested restaurants and bars close by 8 p.m. and stop serving alcohol an hour earlier. People are also asked to stay home after 8 p.m. unless they have essential reasons to go out. Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, which make up 30% of the country’s population, sought the extension past the originally scheduled end date of March 7 as new coronavirus cases had not fallen enough to meet targets. The government had an early-morning meeting with advisers and they approved the extension, Nishimura, who is in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, told reporters.
5th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Covid: Germany approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s

Germany's vaccine commission has approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab in people aged over 65. The country previously approved it for under-65s only, citing insufficient data on its effects on older people. That led to public scepticism about its effectiveness, with some Germans spurning it and leaving many doses unused. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said recent studies had now provided enough data to approve it for all ages. Announcing the commission's decision on Thursday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the move was "good news for older people who are waiting for an injection".
4th Mar 2021 - BBC News

European Regulator Begins Review of Russia's Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine

The European Medicines Agency has started its rolling review of Sputnik V, the coronavirus vaccine developed by Russia. The agency said on Thursday that its decision to begin the review process is "based on results from laboratory studies and clinical studies in adults." The studies indicate that Sputnik V triggers the production of antibodies and immune cells that target the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and protects people against the virus.
4th Mar 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

Germany's Merkel set to agree to cautious easing of COVID-19 lockdown

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders have agreed a phased easing of coronavirus curbs along with an “emergency brake” to let authorities reimpose restrictions if case numbers spike again. With elections looming, Merkel and the regional leaders have faced growing pressure to set out plans to restore normal activities after four months of lockdown. However, daily cases are creeping up again and only around 5% of the population have received a first vaccine shot.
4th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Italy, EU block AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to Australia

A shipment of a quarter-million AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia has been blocked from leaving the European Union in the first use of an export control system instituted by the bloc to make sure big pharma companies would respect their contracts. Italy’s order blocking the dispatch of 250,000 doses was accepted by the European Commission, which has fiercely criticised the Anglo-Swedish company this year for supplying just a fraction of the vaccine doses it had promised to deliver to the bloc.
4th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera

Hungary toughens COVID-19 lockdown to curb 'very strong' third wave

Hungary announced new COVID-19 lockdown measures on Thursday to try to curb a “very strong” third wave of the pandemic, closing most shops and shifting to remote learning in primary schools. With new cases hitting a three-month daily high of 6,278 on Thursday, mainly because of the spreading coronavirus variant first found in Britain, Prime Minister Viktor Orban faces a growing political challenge. Orban, who faces an election battle early next year, had kept shops and industries open to try to limit the economic effects of the pandemic, which caused a 5% recession last year. “The third wave (of the pandemic) is strong, very strong and worse than the second wave had been,” Gergely Gulyas, Orban’s chief of staff, told reporters.
4th Mar 2021 - Reuters

Buenos Aires reopens as virus surge forces Sao Paulo to shut

Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires were a tale of two cities this week, with Brazil’s megalopolis partially shutting down and bracing for possibly the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while residents of Argentina’s capital were stepping out to movie theaters and restaurants. The two biggest cities in the South American neighbors are headed in opposite directions, a trend that experts say demonstrates how places that loosen restrictions against the advice of scientists see a spike in the pandemic while those that keep social distancing measures in place can reopen their economies sooner.
4th Mar 2021 - The Associated Press

Indonesia courts controversy with private COVID vaccine scheme

The Indonesian government has approved a controversial new scheme that will allow cashed-up private companies in the developing Southeast Asian nation to pay to independently inoculate their staff from COVID-19 and avoid the long wait for public vaccination. The country is aiming to vaccinate 181.5 million out of the 270 million population by 2021. But since the public rollout began on January 13, only one million people have been fully vaccinated with two doses, according to Our World in Data, an online resource tracking global COVID-19 vaccination releases. Nearly 2.7 million have had their first jab.
4th Mar 2021 - AlJazeera


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Report Covid vaccine could be made mandatory for some people

In Britain, the Government is reported to be looking at a plan to make the Covid vaccine mandatory for some people, according to reports. Ministers are looking into whether to force all healthcare staff to have the vaccine, according to the Daily Mail. The rule would apply to everyone from NHS staff to care home workers, the paper says. According to the Daily Mail, 200,000 NHS and care employees have refused the offer of a vaccine so far.
3rd Mar 2021 - WalesOnline

Mississippi, Texas lift COVID-19 restrictions despite warnings

Texas and Mississippi announced yesterday that they were ending mask mandates and opening indoor businesses after a year of restrictions because of COVID-19. "I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted yesterday afternoon. Abbott said in a press conference he was not suggesting the threat of COVID-19 was over, but with the arrival of vaccines and a significant drop in cases, the state was ready to reopen beginning Mar 10. Abbott also said his state was vaccinating 1 million people per week, a rate that should comfort those doubtful about lifting restrictions.
3rd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

Saudi Arabia says COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for Hajj 2021

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry says only people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to attend the Hajj this year, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported. “The COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for those willing to come to the Hajj and will be one of the main conditions (for receiving a permit to come),” Monday’s report said, citing a circular signed by the health minister. Saudi Arabia takes pride in its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina and its smooth organisation of the annual Hajj, which has been marred in the past by deadly stampedes, fires and riots. In 2020, the kingdom dramatically reduced the number of pilgrims allowed to attend Hajj to about 1,000 Saudi citizens and residents of the kingdom, in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.
3rd Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Covid, the Brazilian variant is the second most prolific in Italy. What do we know so far

The Brazilian variant is now the second most prolific in ITaly. It could be 1.4-2.2 times more transmissible and able to evade the protective immunity brought on by a previous Covid infection, but the vaccine data wouldn't be as bad as the South African variant as the drop-off in antibody protection is not as severe
3rd Mar 2021 - Corriere della Sera

Sao Paulo shuts down as raging virus prompts Brazil Pfizer deal

The partial lockdown in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most-populous state, underscored mounting concerns about a surging new wave of infections. The country is facing its deadliest stretch since the pandemic began due to a homegrown variant dubbed P1, scarce restrictions to slow the virus and the patchy vaccine rollout. Brazil is setting single-day death records as outbreaks ebb in North America and parts of Western Europe. That risks internationally isolating Latin America’s biggest country as other nations seek to shore up their gains against the virus.
3rd Mar 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com


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Serbia donates COVID-19 vaccines to Bosnia's Bosniak-Croat Federation

Former wartime enemy Serbia donated 5,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Bosniak-Croat region of neighbouring Bosnia on Tuesday, allowing it to launched its inoculation campaign. The Bosniak-Croat Federation, one of Bosnia's two autonomous entities alongside the Serb Republic, has ordered 1.2 million doses under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme, and nearly 900,000 from the European Union, but has not received any yet.
2nd Mar 2021 - Yahoo

COVID-19: France approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s - as Angela Merkel urged to get jab

France approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s. The new stance comes just weeks after President Emmanuel Macron said the Oxford vaccine was "quasi-ineffective" in older people.
2nd Mar 2021 - Sky News

Venezuela approves use of China's Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine

Venezuela has approved the use of China’s Sinopharm vaccine against the novel coronavirus, the South American country’s health ministry said on Monday, after it began administering Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine last month. The ministry did not specify how many Sinopharm doses it would acquire or when they would arrive. President Nicolas Maduro had previously said the country was in talks with China over the possible use of its vaccines. “Thanks to the cooperation between China and Venezuela we are able to attend to the health and life of our people,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.
2nd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Austria and Denmark eye alliance with Israel on coronavirus vaccines

Israel is to hold talks with Austria and Denmark on teaming up to manufacture coronavirus vaccines, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen plan to visit Israel on Thursday to discuss “an international corporation for manufacturing vaccines," Netanyahu was quoted by Reuters as saying. The Austrian and Danish leaders' move is the latest blow to the EU's vaccination strategy, coming the same day that Poland asked China for vaccines and Slovakia ordered 2 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, and only a day after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán received his first dose of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency.
2nd Mar 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Slovakia joins Hungary and buys Russian coronavirus vaccine

Slovakia has purchased 2 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, making it the second country in the EU to go ahead and purchase the shot, which has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Prime Minister Igor Matovič held a press conference Monday at the Košice Airport, where the first delivery of the vaccine arrived, reported local newspaper SME. He declared that the Russian vaccine will allow the country to speed up its vaccination program by 40 percent. Health Minister Marek Krajčí said the shot won't be administered right away because it still requires a sign-off from the national drug regulator, the newspaper wrote.
2nd Mar 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Covid-19: Isle of Man in 'circuit-breaker' lockdown after spike in cases

A 21-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown has been announced to limit the spread of Covid-19 on the Isle of Man, the chief minister has said. The island has seen a sharp rise in cases in recent days, which stemmed from an infected ferry crew member. Howard Quayle said an increase in unexplained cases indicated that there was transmission "that we cannot see and do not understand". The new restrictions will come into force from 00:01 GMT on Wednesday. Under the new measures, people will be required to stay at home unless for exercise or essential travel, avoid mixing with other households and socially distance when outside.
2nd Mar 2021 - BBC News

Brazilian states blast Bolsonaro over pandemic during worst phase yet

Disgruntled with President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of a pandemic in its most severe phase, 16 Brazilian governors accused the far-right leader of misleading the country and state authorities urged a nationwide curfew and closure of airports. A year after Brazil’s COVID-19 outbreak began, it has killed over 255,000 Brazilians and yet little more than 3% of the 210 million population has been vaccinated, raising criticism of Bolsonaro for failing to secure timely supplies of vaccines. Last week was the deadliest yet for Brazil’s outbreak, averaging nearly 1,200 confirmed deaths per day according to Health Ministry data. Intensive care units in the country’s main cities have reached critical occupancy levels not seen since the first peak of the pandemic last July.
2nd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Australia armed forces called in to support COVID-19 immunization drive

Australia will seek the support of the defence forces in its COVID-19 immunisation drive, authorities said on Wednesday, as it looks to ramp up a vaccination rollout programme that is running behind schedule. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will provide help in rolling out vaccines to aged care residents in rural and regional areas not readily accessible by other medical providers, acting Defence Minister Marise Payne said. ADF teams are expected to start next week and will focus on the planning, logistics and operations support.
2nd Mar 2021 - Reuters

Biden moves to get all teachers a vaccine shot by the end of March

President Biden said Tuesday that he would use federal authority to offer coronavirus vaccinations to K-12 teachers and child care workers, with the aim of getting at least the first shot administered to all educators by the end of March. The goal is to remove one of the major barriers to reopening schools — an urgent step for parents and children alike — but one that has been enormously controversial and complicated. Teachers, who have resisted going back in many communities, have said that they would be much more willing to return to school buildings if they are vaccinated first.
2nd Mar 2021 - The Washington Post

The Trump administration quietly spent billions in hospital funds on Operation Warp Speed

The Trump administration quietly took around $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by Covid-19 and used the money to bankroll Operation Warp Speed contracts, four former Trump administration officials told STAT. The Department of Health and Human Services appears to have used a financial maneuver that allowed officials to spend the money without telling Congress, and the agency got permission from its top lawyer to do so. Now, the Biden administration is refusing to say whether the outlay means there will be less money available for hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, and other providers.
2nd Mar 2021 - STAT News

COVID: Despite concerns, Chinese vaccines sweep the world

While the US and other Western nations have focused on vaccinating their own people, China has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to countries around the globe. Despite questions about their effectiveness and safety, people from Chile to Zimbabwe and Indonesia are among those lining up to get the shots. “We’re seeing certainly real-time vaccine diplomacy start to play out, with China in the lead, in terms of being able to manufacture vaccines within China and make them available to others, largely low- and middle-income countries around the world,” said Dr Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University in the US.
2nd Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

WHO sounds alarm over COVID-linked oxygen crisis

More than 1.1 million cylinders of oxygen are needed by COVID-19 patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) every day and patients are going without because hospitals can't keep up with demand, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). To fix shortages in 20 of the countries, the WHO and its partners need $90 million in immediate funding. To fix the deficit for the next 12 months, the WHO Access to COVID Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) estimates a $1.6 billion need.
2nd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP

WHO advises against hydroxychloroquine to curb COVID-19

A WHO expert panel that reviewed hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 preventive based their firm conclusion on a review of six randomized controlled trials that included more than 6,000 participants who did and didn't have exposure to someone infected with the virus. They published their findings today in BMJ, as well as on the WHO's website. With high certainty, the evidence showed no meaningful effect on death and hospital admission, and with moderate certainty found no effect on lab-confirmed infection. Also, the group wrote that the drug probably increases the risk of adverse effects. Given the lack of evidence for any benefit, the panel said hydroxychloroquine shouldn't be a research priority anymore and that resources are better targeted to more promising drugs for preventing COVID-19.
2nd Mar 2021 - CIDRAP


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Mar 2021

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Colombia becomes first in Americas to get vaccines through COVAX

The Pan American Health Organization says United Nations-backed programme will boost COVID vaccine access in hard-hit Latin America. Colombia has become the first country in the Americas to receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccines through the United Nations-backed COVAX programme, receiving 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday. The shipment’s arrival in the capital, Bogota, came a few days after the anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in Latin America.
2nd Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Global COVID-19 infections up for first time in seven weeks, WHO says

“We need to have a stern warning for all of us: that this virus will rebound if we let it,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO technical lead for COVID-19, told a briefing. “And we cannot let it.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the rise in cases was “disappointing but not surprising” and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the disease. It was too early for countries to rely solely on vaccination programmes and abandon other measures, he said: “If countries rely solely on vaccines, they are making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.”
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Israeli Supreme Court bans unlimited COVID-19 mobile phone tracking

Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday banned the government from sweeping use of mobile phone tracking of coronavirus carriers, calling the measure a grave infraction of civil liberties.Used on and off since March 2020 in efforts to curb the pandemic, the Shin Bet counter-terrorism agency’s surveillance technology matched carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they came into contact. From the outset, civil rights groups had mounted court challenges over privacy concerns while lawmakers cast doubt about the efficacy of the contact-tracing tool
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Amid scramble for COVID-19 vaccine, Latin America turns to Russia

As Bolivia struggled late last year to secure deals with large drug firms to supply COVID-19 vaccines, the incoming president, Luis Arce, turned to Russia for help. By the end of December, Bolivia clinched its first major COVID-19 vaccine deal, with enough shots for some 20% of the population. The first Sputnik V doses arrived in the country in late January, just as virus cases were spiking. Bolivia’s reliance on Moscow underscores how governments across the region have turned to Russia’s Sputnik V drug amid fears of being left behind in the global scramble for vaccines.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Finland declares state of emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

The Finnish government declared a state of emergency on Monday due to rising COVID-19 infections, a step that would allow the Nordic country to shutter restaurants and to impose other measures to blunt the pandemic. The decision comes as new variants contribute to a sharp rise in infections in the country, which has already closed its borders. The state of emergency would also allow the government to further shut schools and limit movement between regions. “The government sees it necessary that we all have fewer contacts,” Prime Minster Sanna Marin told a news conference. “Everyone now has the opportunity to impact how the spring and summer will turn out.”
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Uzbekistan approves Chinese-developed COVID-19 vaccine

Uzbekistan’s government has approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biofarmaceutical for use in the Central Asian nation, the Uzbek ministry of innovation said on Monday. Uzbekistan has taken part in stage III trials of the vaccine known as ZF2001.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Czechs tighten COVID lockdown, seek more tests for factory workers

The Czech Republic, battling the world’s worst surge in COVID-19 infections, deployed more police officers and soldiers on Monday to help enforce new lockdown measures that seek to confine people mostly to their home districts. Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said the healthcare system faces collapse without the new restrictions due to a record number of patients in a serious condition. The country of 10.7 million has recorded the highest per capita infection rate in the world over the last week, according to the Our World in Data website, 11 times higher than neighbouring Germany.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Covax: Ivory Coast and Ghana begin mass Covid vaccination rollouts

African countries are starting mass Covid inoculation drives using vaccines supplied through a scheme set up to share doses fairly with poorer nations. Ivory Coast is one of the first to benefit from the UN-backed Covax distribution initiative, with injections beginning on Monday. Ghana is also launching its vaccination drive this week. Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday became the first to receive a coronavirus vaccine through the scheme. Mr Akufo-Addo urged people to get inoculated and not to believe conspiracy theories casting doubt on the programme, which will see some 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rolled out nationwide on Tuesday.
1st Mar 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: New West Bank lockdown as Palestinians face surge of coronavirus cases

A new lockdown has been imposed across the West Bank as Palestinians face a fresh surge of coronavirus cases and a continued wait for a proper vaccine rollout. The Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced the 12-day shutdown late on Saturday and blamed it on the struggle to get vaccines delivered to the territory. In the last 24 hours there have been 910 new cases and five deaths in the West Bank.
1st Mar 2021 - Sky News

Zimbabwe eases COVID-19 lockdown as infections decline

Zimbabwe on Monday eased a coronavirus lockdown and overnight curfew imposed in January by allowing businesses to fully re-open after the rate of new infections slowed in the last two weeks. The news comes a day after neighbouring country South Africa eased restrictions to allow liquor sales under normal trading time and shortened curfew hours from midnight to 4 a.m., as cases in the country fell after a new coronavirus variant led to widespread infections in December and January.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Hungarian PM receives Chinese vaccine as govt ramps up rollout

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm, Orban announced on his official Facebook page on Sunday as the country tries to accelerate its vaccination programme. Hungary on Wednesday became the first European Union member to start inoculating people with Sinopharm shots after rolling out Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as well, even though neither has been granted approval for emergency use by the bloc.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Norway's capital tightens lockdown to fight faster virus spread

Norway’s capital Oslo will tighten lockdown measures to combat a sharp rise in coronavirus infections linked to a more contagious variant, the city’s governing mayor said on Sunday. The variant, which was first identified in Britain, started spreading in Oslo in January and now accounts for 50-70% of infections, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said on Saturday. On Friday, Oslo registered a daily record of 245 new coronavirus infections. “We have to tighten the measures,” Raymond Johansen, the governing mayor of Oslo, told a news conference.
1st Mar 2021 - Reuters

Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala promotes vaccine equity on day one at WTO

The new head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) called Monday for a “technology transfer” when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines and urged member nations to reach a deal to reduce overfishing after years of fruitless talks as she laid out her top priorities after taking office. Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian economist and former government minister, donned a mask and doled out welcoming elbow bumps as she took up her job at WTO headquarters on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Still, she immediately set about trying to change the organisation’s culture.
1st Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Patently unfair: Can waivers help solve COVID vaccine inequality?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council gathered virtually on Monday for the first of two days of talks amid increasing calls from civil society, states and nongovernmental actors to temporarily waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines and other coronavirus-related medical products. Endorsing a waiver on Friday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “If not now, when?”
1st Mar 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Covid-19: Brazil 'variant of concern' detected in UK

The Brazil variant is something officials are worried about because it shares similar mutations to the South Africa variant of concern. Both have undergone genetic changes that could make them more contagious and perhaps less easy to stop with our current vaccines. The coronavirus jabs being given to people now were designed around earlier versions of the pandemic virus, not these new variants. Scientists believe they should still protect, although perhaps not quite as well. Work is already under way to redesign or tweak the vaccines to make them a better match for some of these new "variants of concern". These updated vaccines could be ready within months, meaning the UK would have millions of doses ready to give people a booster shot before next winter to make sure the population is protected.
28th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Dutch appeals court says coronavirus curfew was right move

A Dutch appeals court said on Friday the government had been right to impose a night curfew in the fight against the coronavirus, overturning a lower court’s order which had caused confusion over the measure last week. In a clear victory for the government, the appeals court said it had rightfully used emergency powers to install the curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War Two, and had adequately proved that the measure was necessary to rein in the pandemic.
27th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Greece extends lockdown to more areas to stem spread of pandemic

Greece extended lockdown restrictions on Friday to more areas of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic showed no signs of waning exactly one year after its first coronavirus infection was detected, health authorities said. From Saturday, the islands of Lefkada, Syros and Samos, the towns of Arta and Amphilochia in western Greece, the wider area around Corinth in the Peloponnese and Heraklion on the island of Crete will all be in lockdown.
27th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Brazil's capital goes into lockdown to quell COVID-19 surge

The governor of Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, plans to announce a 24-hour lockdown for all but essential services on Friday to curb a worsening COVID-19 outbreak that has filled its intensive care wards to the brim, an aide told Reuters.
27th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Czech government tightens lockdown, limits movement to fight COVID surge

The Czech government announced on Friday strict new restrictions limiting people’s movement over the next three weeks and tightening shop and school closures in a bid to slow a fast spread of COVID-19 infections. The country is facing a renewed surge in infections, accelerated by the British variant. The number of patients in serious condition is a record. Some hospitals have been forced to transfer patients hundreds of miles away due to capacity.
27th Feb 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand's largest city Auckland back to lockdown after COVID-19 case

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will go into a seven-day lockdown from early morning on Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus of unknown origin emerged.
27th Feb 2021 - Reuters

EU medicines regulator approves Regeneron Covid-19 therapy

Regeneron's synthetic antibody treatment was used to treat former US President Donald Trump after he contracted coronavirus last year.
27th Feb 2021 - Hindustan Times

Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot in boost to campaign

Canada’s drug regulator on Friday approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, including the version produced by the Serum Institute of India, paving the way for health authorities to accelerate Canada’s lagging vaccination campaign. The vaccines produced by AstraZeneca Plc and the Serum Institute were approved under Canada’s interim order system, which allows for accelerated approvals similar to the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorisation.
27th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

US advisers endorse single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

U.S. health advisers endorsed a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on Friday, putting the nation on the cusp of adding an easier-to-use option to fight the pandemic. The acting head of the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that the agency will move quickly to follow the recommendation, which would make J&J’s shot the third vaccine authorized for emergency use in the U.S. Vaccinations are picking up speed, but new supplies are urgently needed to stay ahead of a mutating virus that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.
27th Feb 2021 - The Associated Press

South Korea vaccinates 18,000 to start ambitious COVID-19 campaign

South Korea said 18,489 people received their first doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine by midnight on Friday as it launched an ambitious COVID-19 inoculation campaign, and will begin using Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines on Saturday. The first to receive the shots are healthcare workers, staffers at assisted care facilities and other high-risk people, with a goal of vaccinating 32 million to 36 million people - some 60% to 70% of the population - by September. The government hopes to reach herd immunity, defined as at least a 70% vaccine take-up, by November, as health authorities remain on alert for signs of sporadic infections.
27th Feb 2021 - Reuters

FDA authorizes J&J 1-dose COVID vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, giving the United States a third vaccine to fight the pandemic—one that offers an easier, one-dose option. The formal announcement follows yesterday's unanimous recommendation from the FDA's outside advisory panel, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). In a statement, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, said vaccines are the best prevention in the fight against COVID-19.
27th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

G20 nations warn uneven vaccine roll-out could stall recovery

The uneven distribution of vaccines between wealthier and poorer countries is a key concern of Group of 20 (G20) nations as leaders consider how to create even footing for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic both in economic and health terms, Italy’s economy minister said Friday. Daniele Franco told a virtual news conference after the meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the G20 economies that a core priority for the group is “to grant equitable access” to safe vaccines.
26th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Palestinians condemn Israel’s move to send vaccines overseas

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has condemned Israel’s promise to send coronavirus vaccines to far-away countries while ignoring the five-million-strong Palestinian population living kilometres away under its military occupation as an “immoral measure”. On Thursday, Honduras received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Israel, after Israeli media reported earlier this week the government’s intention to send vaccines to the Central American country, in addition to Guatemala, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
26th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Vaccine hoarding threatens global supply via COVAX: WHO

Countries seeking their own COVID-19 vaccine doses are making deals with drug companies that threaten the supply for the global COVAX programme for poor and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. “Now, some countries are still pursuing deals that will compromise the COVAX supply. Without a doubt,” WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward told a briefing. Tedros also called for countries to waive intellectual property rules, to allow other countries to make vaccines more quickly. “If not now, when?” he asked. The idea of temporarily waiving intellectual property rights for tools to fight COVID-19 is set to come up again next week at a meeting of World Trade Organization (WTO) member states. In the past, it has run into opposition from rich countries with big pharmaceutical industries.
26th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

EU regulator advises use of Regeneron antibody cocktail for COVID-19

Europe’s medicines regulator said on Friday an antibody drug combination developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals can be used to treat COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen support and are at high risk of progressing to severe illness. The recommendation can now be used as guidance in individual European nations on the possible use of the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab before a marketing authorisation is issued, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said. Regeneron’s antibody cocktail was authorised for emergency use in the United States in November, and was given to former U.S. President Donald Trump during his COVID-19 infection. The treatment, given via a drip, is part of a class of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies, which are manufactured copies of antibodies created by the human body to fight infections.
26th Feb 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Feb 2021

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China approves two more COVID-19 vaccines for wider use

China approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for wider use Thursday, adding to its growing arsenal of shots. The National Medical Products Administration gave conditional approval to a vaccine from CanSino Biologics and a second one from state-owned Sinopharm. Both are already being used among select groups of people under an emergency use authorization. China now has four vaccines to immunize its population. CanSino said its one-shot vaccine candidate is 65.28% effective 28 days after the dose is given. It can be stored at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius, “making it more accessible especially to the regions with underserved public health,” it said in a statement.
25th Feb 2021 - The Independent

AZ to divert COVID-19 vaccines from global supply chain to meet EU target -

AstraZeneca has said it will be able to meet a target to deliver 180 million COVID-19 vaccines to the EU in the second quarter, by topping up the supply from its global production network. The company released a statement saying it will meet the EU’s targets by using its global supply chain to make up for any shortfall in Europe, where it is struggling to get production up to speed. It released the statement following a Reuters report citing a European official, directly involved with talks over vaccine supply, stating less than half of the 180 million doses ordered will be delivered in the second quarter.
25th Feb 2021 - pharmaphorum

UK Covid alert level drops as NHS threat 'reduced'

The four UK chief medical officers and NHS England's national medical director agreed the change following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre. The alert level has been at level five since early January, when Scotland and England began their latest lockdowns. The top medics urged people to "remain vigilant" by following lockdown rules. A change in alert system does not automatically mean restrictions can ease, but it helps to inform government decisions on lockdown rules.
25th Feb 2021 - MSN.com

France, Germany to beef up COVID-19 controls at common border

France said on Thursday it would bring in new COVID-19 restrictions for the area around its common border with Germany, as President Emmanuel Macron’s government tries to contain a surge of coronavirus variants in the French region of Moselle. Cross-border workers, who had exemptions until now, will need to present negative PCR tests to get through if travelling for reasons unrelated to their jobs, France’s European affairs and health ministers said in a joint statement. Home working in the area will also be reinforced, they said, after France and Germany said earlier this week they were trying to find ways to prevent a closure of their common border.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters

France imposes weekend lockdown near Belgian border after corona outbreak

The French region of Dunkirk, right next to the border with Belgium, will be placed under a weekend-long lockdown after an “alarming” rise in the number of coronavirus cases was reported, French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Wednesday. In the vicinity of the coastal town, the rate of infection was around nine times higher than the national average, reportedly as a result of a breakout of the British variant, which is believed to be the cause of around 75% of all regional cases.
25th Feb 2021 - The Brussels Times

Finland to begin three-week lockdown on 8 March

Finland will go into a three-week lockdown starting on 8 March and is prepared to declare a state of emergency, Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said, as the country faces a rising number of coronavirus cases. The lockdown will not include a curfew but will involve the closure of restaurants and ordering school students who are 13 or older to move to remote learning, the government said. Ms Marin said she is ready to declare a state of emergency next week, having discussed this with the president.
25th Feb 2021 - RTE Online

Hungary extends lockdown, sees 'exceptionally difficult' two weeks ahead as infections rise

Hungary is entering its toughest period since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and over the next two weeks hospitals will come under strain like never before, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday. "I have only bad news," Orban said in a Facebook video. "We are facing the hardest two weeks since the start of the pandemic. The number of infections is rising sharply and will continue to rise due to the new mutations." On Thursday, Hungary reported 4,385 new infections, the highest number this year.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

EU says UK, U.S. have vaccine export bans, EU allows exports of Pfizer, Moderna shots

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the EU was allowing exports of COVID-19 vaccines, mostly from BionTech/Pfizer and Moderna, while the United States and Britain had mechanism to block them. Von der Leyen told a news conference that approximately 95% of EU-made vaccines that had been exported since Jan. 30 were manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the remainder by Moderna. She said that both were honouring their supply contracts with the EU and therefore there was no limitation on their export, while on AstraZeneca’s exports the EU was keeping “a very close eye” because of the company’s shortfalls in deliveries to the 27-nation bloc.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Israel passes law to name and shame those who decline Covid vaccine

Israel has passed a law allowing the identities of people who have not been vaccinated to be shared with other authorities. The decision on Wednesday raises concerns over privacy for those who may opt against getting the jab. It passed by 30 votes to 13 and gives local governments, the director general of the education ministry and some in the welfare ministry the right to receive the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone who has not had the vaccine. The objective of the measure – which remains valid for three months or until the Covid-19 pandemic is declared over – is ‘to enable these bodies to encourage people to vaccinate by personally addressing them’, according to a statement issued by parliament. Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/02/25/israel-passes-law-to-name-and-shame-people-who-havent-had-covid-jab-14143058/?ito=cbshare Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
25th Feb 2021 - Metro.co.uk

COVID-19: EU leaders divided over vaccine passports to allow European travel this summer

European Union leaders are divided over developing vaccine passports to open the continent up to tourism this summer. Some countries want an EU-wide approach instead of individual nations having their own certificates, while others are concerned such documentation could result in discrimination. Leaders of the EU's 27 countries met online on Thursday to start a two-day summit to discuss the pandemic, and while they agreed to work on vaccine certificates, they could not come up with a unified plan.
25th Feb 2021 - Sky News


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Feb 2021

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Singapore's first Chinese COVID-19 vaccines arrive ahead of approval

Singapore received its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech on Tuesday, its health ministry said, although the shot is still awaiting approval for use in the city-state. Sinovac has started submitting initial data but the Health Sciences Authority is currently awaiting all the necessary information to carry out a thorough assessment, the ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Thailand receives its first coronavirus vaccines

Thailand received on Wednesday its first 200,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, the country’s first batch of coronavirus vaccines, with inoculations set to begin in a few days. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to be among the first to receive the vaccine this weekend. Most doses have been reserved for frontline medical workers.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Ghana becomes first nation in world to receive Covax coronavirus vaccines

Ghana has received the world’s first delivery of coronavirus vaccines from the United Nations-backed Covax initiative. It marked the long-awaited start for a programme that has so far fallen short of hopes that it would ensure shots were given quickly to the world’s most vulnerable people. The arrival of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the West African country marks the beginning of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef.
24th Feb 2021 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Israel to use excess Covid vaccines for international diplomacy

Israel will wield some of its excess supply of coronavirus vaccines as international humanitarian aid, using its glut of jabs to pursue diplomatic goals while Palestinians wait for aid shipments for their own supplies. The first three countries to receive thousands of doses will be Honduras, the Czech Republic and Guatemala, all of whom recently agreed to strengthen their diplomatic presence in Jerusalem, bolstering Israel’s claim to the contested city.
24th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

COVID-19 'vaccine diplomacy': China, Russia and India cherry-picking the countries they help

China, Russia and India have been accused of engaging in "vaccine diplomacy" as they cherry-pick nations to give their COVID-19 vaccines to in order to bolster their influence. Sky News analysis has found 47 countries, plus the African Union which represents 55 nations, have made or been offered vaccine deals with India, China and Russia. In 21 countries, their sole vaccine supplies up until 19 February were from Russia, China and India.
24th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Italy's health minister rules out loosening of COVID-19 curbs

Italy's government will extend coronavirus restrictions already in place until after Easter, the health minister said on Wednesday, as Rome plans to speed up vaccination efforts to try to beat the pandemic. Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, has seen its daily cases fall from a high of around 40,000 in November to under 15,000 at present, but officials fear loosening restrictions may lead to a surge in infections driven by new, highly contagious variants. "The epidemiological conditions do not allow us to relax the curbs," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told parliament, adding that strains first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil are increasingly being detected in Italy.
24th Feb 2021 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

Dunkirk area in northern France to impose weekend lockdown -minister

The region around the northern French port of Dunkirk will start enforcing a weekend lockdown from this weekend to halt a spike in COVID-19 infections, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Wednesday. Veran said the situation in the Dunkirk area was “alarming” and that France would also increase vaccine supplies for the area.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Hungary starts using China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine in EU first

Hungary cannot yet ease its partial coronavirus lockdown as a third wave of infections has boosted new cases and only a small section of the population has received a vaccine so far, the prime minister said. Hungary became the first European Union country on Wednesday to start inoculating people with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, following a similar move with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, which have not been granted regulatory approval in the EU.
24th Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

NSW, Victoria and Queensland restrict COVID-19 travel from New Zealand in face of Auckland outbreak

Australia's eastern states have imposed fresh restrictions on New Zealand travellers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland. Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and Queensland have limited quarantine-free travel now that at least eight cases have been linked to an Auckland high school. New Zealand authorities say they are confident the outbreak, which prompted a lockdown in New Zealand's biggest city, is under control. NSW Health said it was contacting travellers who arrived from New Zealand since Saturday, and, as a precaution, those people should get tested and isolate until they get a negative result.
24th Feb 2021 - ABC News

Denmark to take 'calculated risk' by easing COVID curbs in March

Denmark plans to allow shops and some schools to reopen in March in a much awaited move that could however send hospital coronavirus admissions soaring in coming months. In what the prime minister has called a “calculated risk”, the government will allow stores under 5,000 square metres to reopen, while outdoor leisure activities can resume with an upper limit of 25 people. Schools in parts of the country will also be allowed to reopen, but will require students to test themselves twice a week.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Greece to continue Athens lockdown as COVID cases rise

Greece will not be able to lift lockdown restrictions in the wider Athens area on March 1 as previously planned, following a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday. Athens metropolitan area, where half of Greece’s population lives, has been under strict lockdown restrictions that were set to expire on Feb. 28. On Tuesday, authorities reported 2,147 new cases, around half of them in the Attica region around Athens, and 22 deaths
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Johnson & Johnson COVID jab safe and effective, US FDA staff find

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in documents published on Wednesday, paving the way for the vaccine’s approval for emergency use later this week. The regulator’s panel of independent experts meets on Friday to decide whether to approve the shot. While it is not bound to follow the advice of its experts, the FDA usually does and has authorised vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
24th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Condemnation as coughing Tanzanian minister gives news conference

Days after President John Mafuguli finally admitted Tanzania has a coronavirus problem, after months of apparent denial and increasing warnings of a resurgence in infections, the sight of the country’s finance minister coughing and gasping during a news conference to defend the state of his health has left many in shock. Finance Minister Philip Mpango, who did not reveal what he was suffering from, spoke to about 10 reporters on Tuesday at a hospital in the capital, Dodoma, after rumours that he had died of COVID-19. A recent spate of deaths attributed to “pneumonia” and “respiratory challenges” has struck both government officials and members of the public.
24th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Moderna sends COVID-19 booster shot for NIH testing as it hikes production targets past 2B doses

Moderna on Wednesday said it's now on track to produce 700 million vaccine doses this year, and it's still aiming for 1 billion at the high end. Last year, the company had said 500 million would be its minimum output this year, and it ratcheted up that minimum to 600 million in January. And for 2022, the biotech is planning for 1.4 billion doses—or perhaps even 2 billion, depending on the dose required for booster shots targeting new variants. The company has shipped a booster candidate to the National Institutes of Health for testing, according to Wednesday's statement; it's targeted specifically at the South Africa variant now worrying public health experts.
24th Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

Merkel says Germany in third wave of pandemic: sources

Germany is in a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers in her conservative party, two sources at the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday. “We are now in the third wave,” they quoted her as saying and said she warned that any easing of lockdown measures introduced late last year and extended until March 7 would have to be done carefully and gradually. The closure of all non-essential businesses and border controls with Austria and the Czech Republic, where there have been outbreaks linked to a more infectious variant of the virus, have helped Germany bring down new daily COVID-19 infections. But a slow vaccination roll-out and the risk of major outbreaks of fast-spreading variants already identified in Germany could make any easing of restrictions more difficult.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Feb 2021

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U.S. House plans vote on COVID-19 aid bill on Friday

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Friday on legislation to provide $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus relief, Representative Steny Hoyer, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said. “The American people strongly support this bill, and we are moving swiftly to see it enacted into law,” Hoyer said on Twitter on Tuesday.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

World Bank threatens to halt funding for Lebanon’s COVID jabs

The World Bank has threatened to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were violations by legislators who were vaccinated inside Parliament. The comments by the international lender on Tuesday came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that the national plan that requires people to get vaccinated at predetermined centres could be riddled with violations and favouritism.
24th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Ukraine gets first vaccine shipment as hospitals struggle

Ukraine on Tuesday received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine raising hopes that authorities can start beating back the virus spread in a country where cases have strained the fragile health care system. A consignment of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was flown to the capital Kyiv from India. Officials said the first tranche of vaccine will be administered to medical workers and military personnel in eastern Ukraine, where conflict with Russian-backed separatists has been ongoing since 2014, and to regions of western Ukraine where the rate of infections has been the most severe
23rd Feb 2021 - The Independent

Egypt receives second shipment of Chinese coronavirus vaccine

Egypt received 300,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in the early hours of Tuesday, the health ministry said in a statement. The new batch from China was the second shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine to Egypt. The country received its first 50,000-dose shipment in December. The North African country also got 50,000 doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca earlier in February as part of its programme to vaccinate health workers
23rd Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVAX vaccine begins shipping from India facility

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) South East Asia office said on Twitter today that the first batches rolled out from India's Serum Institute in Pune. The move comes a week after the WHO listed versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine made in India and South Korea for emergency use, which paves the way for the vaccine to be distributed by the COVAX program. The vaccines required two separate reviews and approvals, because they are made in two different facilities.
23rd Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Pfizer, Moderna and J&J tout supercharged COVID-19 vaccine output, eyeing nearly 140 million new doses by March

Pfizer, which has been shipping 4 million to 5 million doses per week, plans to increase that to 13 million a week by mid-March, according to executive testimony planned for Tuesday morning's hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight arm. J&J, which reportedly had just 2 million doses in stock last week, should be able to ship 20 million by March 31—provided it wins FDA authorization as expected, Richard Nettles, M.D., vice president of U.S. medical affairs at Janssen’s infectious diseases and vaccines unit, said in his testimony. The shot is up for an FDA panel review later this week. And Moderna, which already doubled its monthly deliveries to the feds this year and has so far supplied 45 million doses of its mRNA vaccine, aims to double monthly deliveries again by April, president Stephen Hoge's testimony states.
23rd Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

Kuwait to close land, sea border in latest COVID restrictions

Kuwait says it will close its land and sea border crossings from Wednesday until further notice as it imposes curbs to control coronavirus infections in the Gulf nation. Citizens and domestic workers accompanying them are, however, allowed to return through land and sea ports, as are citizens’ first-degree relatives, the cabinet said in its meeting on Monday.
23rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Feb 2021

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Israel’s coronavirus vaccines wielding political power

Forget about oil and arms. Coronavirus vaccines are emerging as the newest currency of choice in the Middle East. Israel’s reopening of its economy, combined with a murky prisoner swap with Syria and the arrival of a batch of vaccines in the Gaza Strip, have all underscored how those with access to the vaccines have political power in the turbulent region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been at the forefront of this trend, pinning his re-election hopes on the success of his campaign to vaccinate Israel’s adult population. At the same time, he has offered rewards to those who vaccinate and punishments to those who do not. Israel has rolled out the world’s fastest vaccination campaign, administering at least one dose to more than half its 9.3 million people and the required two doses to about one-third in less than two months.
23rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

UK PM sets out road map to ease England’s COVID lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a four-step plan to ease coronavirus restrictions in England, expressing a hope that life could get back to normal by the end of June. Johnson outlined a “gradual and cautious” approach to lifting curbs in England, starting with the return of pupils to schools from March 8. Non-essential retail and hairdressers will reopen April 12. So will pubs and restaurants, though only outdoors. Indoor venues such as theatres and cinemas, and indoor seating in bars and restaurants, are scheduled to open May 17, when limited crowds will be able to return to sports stadiums. It is also the earliest date Britons may be allowed foreign holidays. The government is aiming for the lifting of all limits on social contact from June 21. The government says the dates could all be postponed if infections rise.
23rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Italy Extends Ban on Movement Between Regions Until Late March

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has extended a ban on movement between the country’s 20 regions for another month -- until late March -- as his new government tries to step up a vaccination campaign to counter the pandemic. A cabinet meeting chaired by Draghi prolonged travel curbs between regions until March 27 and maintained a 10 p.m. curfew, according to a statement. The government also introduced a ban on visits between households in the highest-risk areas.
22nd Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in some parts of India after months of a steady nationwide decline prompting authorities to impose lockdowns and other virus restrictions. Infections have been plummeting in India since September, and life has already returned to normal in large parts of the country. In many cities, markets are bustling, roads are crowded and restaurants are nearly full. But experts have been warning that the reasons behind India's success aren't really understood, and that the country of nearly 1.4 billion people can't afford to let its guard down. Public health officials are now investigating potential mutations in the virus that could make it more contagious and render some treatments and vaccines less effective.
22nd Feb 2021 - The Independent

Maharashtra reimposes curbs as Covid cases surge

A Covid-19 test positivity rate inching towards 10% in Pune district and a surge in cases in Amravati division made authorities in Maharashtra act swiftly on Sunday to reimpose measures like school and college closure, limitation on movement at night and restrictions on events like weddings for the remainder of the month.
22nd Feb 2021 - Times of India

AstraZeneca's Indian COVID-19 vaccine partner told to prioritize local supplies: CEO

Low- and middle-income countries banking on doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India may have to wait a bit longer, the Indian shot maker’s CEO said over the weekend. The same goes for Europe, where officials have reportedly considered importing supplies from the world's largest vaccine maker by doses. Serum Institute has been told to prioritize supplies for India first as the country hustles to vaccinate 300 million people, or a fifth of its population, by August. The move could signal delays for other countries waiting on orders of AstraZeneca’s adenovirus shot, which Serum Institute is cranking out on license under the name Covishield.
22nd Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

French Riviera placed under weekend lockdown

The French government has placed the French Riviera in southern France under lockdown on weekends, local authorities announced, amid a rapid surge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks. While France has been reluctant to enforce a third nationwide lockdown, local ones are seen as increasingly likely in areas where the situation has deteriorated, including the Paris region. This measure will be enforced from Friday 6 p.m., until Monday 6 a.m. for the next two weekends, "following the same rules as during October lockdown," state Representative Bernard Gonzalez said.
22nd Feb 2021 - Politico

New pledges boost COVAX, but critics say more is needed to ensure global vaccine access

After months of uncertainty and frustration, a World Health Organization program designed to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines in dozens of low-income countries late last week received a spate of good news. First, Novavax pledged 1.1 billion doses of its shot to the WHO effort, which is known as COVAX. Meanwhile, the U.S. agreed to contribute $4 billion in aid over the next two years, with Germany adding $1.2 billion and the European Commission providing $600 million. Collectively, the G7 countries have now committed a total $7.5 billion. And the U.K. promised to provide surplus vaccines to low-income countries. The sudden rush of announcements was in stark contrast to increasing concerns that COVAX was faltering. For much of the past year, wealthy nations and drug makers reached deals that critics argued would leave low-income nations with little access to vaccines. As a result, the vast majority of vaccinations have so far occurred in high-income countries.
22nd Feb 2021 - STAT News

COVID-19: Gaza starts inoculation drive amid vaccine shortage

The inoculation campaign against COVID-19 in the besieged Gaza Strip has kicked off after the arrival of vaccines donated by Russia and the United Arab Emirates. On Monday, officials and health workers received the first shots of 22,000 Russian Sputnik V jabs in front of dozens of cameras.
22nd Feb 2021 - AlJazeera


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Feb 2021

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South Korea to begin using Pfizer coronavirus vaccines on Feb. 27, PM says

South Korea will begin administering the first of 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Feb. 27, a day after the country begins its first vaccinations with AstraZeneca’s products, the prime minister announced on Sunday. Plans call for about 10 million high-risk people, including health care workers and staffers and some residents of assisted care facilities and nursing homes, to be inoculated by July. The first AstraZeneca vaccines are scheduled to be administered on Friday, with Pfizer’s shots being deployed the next day, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said
21st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 vaccinations begin in Australia with Scott Morrison among first group

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has received the Pfizer vaccine, as he joined a small first group to be vaccinated against Covid-19 on Sunday – a step the government says is intended to build public confidence in the safety of the vaccines. Morrison – the 12th member of the group to receive the vaccine at a televised event in Sydney – described it as a “curtain raiser” for the formal start of the vaccine rollout on Monday. He said the initial jabs were designed to show “that it’s safe, that it’s important, and we need to start with those who are most vulnerable and on the front line”.
21st Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Tanzania’s president admits country has COVID-19 problem

Tanzania’s president is finally acknowledging that his country has a coronavirus problem after claiming for months that the disease had been defeated by prayer. Populist President John Magufuli on Sunday urged citizens of the East African country to take precautions and even wear face masks — but only locally made ones. Over the course of the pandemic he has expressed wariness about foreign-made goods, including COVID-19 vaccines. The president’s comments came days after the country of some 60 million people mourned the death of one of its highest-profile politicians, the vice president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar, whose political party had earlier said he had COVID-19. The president’s chief secretary also died in recent days, though the cause was not revealed.
21st Feb 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

How is Sweden coping with Covid-19? The hands-off strategy hasn't changed, officials insist

Now, in the short, gloomy days of February, Sweden’s laissez-faire approach has changed. The government has overruled the public health agency, which has primacy in deciding how to tackle the pandemic, in a number of areas. Commuters are advised to wear masks at rush hour, and bars stop serving alcohol at 10pm. Gatherings of more than eight people are banned. While the restrictions are still not as tight as in the UK, perhaps the biggest change is in the public’s perception of the pandemic. Trust in the authorities has dipped: according to a poll published last month only half of Swedes think that the public health agency is doing a good job, compared with 70 per cent last spring. Other agencies have fared far worse — with trust plunging to record lows. A year after the pandemic came to Sweden, more than 12,500 people have died of Covid-19 in a country of 10.2 million. In Norway, Denmark and Finland — which have a total population of 16.5 million — there have been 3,600 deaths.
21st Feb 2021 - The Times

U.K. to ‘Cautiously’ Ease Lockdown Despite Vaccine Push: Hancock

The U.K. government will take a “cautious” approach to easing lockdown, with restrictions lifted every few weeks to judge the impact, despite a significant acceleration of its Covid-19 vaccination program, a senior minister said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to keep following the rules even when vaccinated, after the government announced that all adults will be offered a shot by the end of July and everyone over 50 by mid-April. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a meeting with his senior ministers on Sunday to sign off on plans for how to ease England’s lockdown, ahead of a statement to Parliament on Monday
21st Feb 2021 - MSN.com

Mayor of French city of Nice calls for weekend coronavirus lockdown

The mayor of the French Mediterranean city of Nice called on Sunday for a weekend lockdown in the area to stop the flow of visitors and curb a sharp spike in coronavirus infections. “We need a strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either a tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown. A weekend lockdown would make sense ...that would stop the inflow of visitors,” Mayor Christian Estrosi said on franceinfo radio.
21st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid vaccines: Boris Johnson pledges surplus to poorer countries at G7

Boris Johnson is pledging to donate most of the UK's surplus vaccine supply to poorer countries in a speech to a virtual G7 meeting on Friday. He urged rich countries to back a 100-day target for the developing new vaccines for future emerging diseases. The UK has ordered more than 400 million doses of various vaccines, so many will be left over once all adults are vaccinated. But anti-poverty campaigners say the UK is not doing enough. Decisions on when and how much of the surplus will be distributed will be made later this year, with ministers taking into account the supply chain and whether booster shots are needed in the autumn.
20th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Russia approves 3rd coronavirus vaccine before late-stage trials begin, PM says

Russia on Saturday approved a third coronavirus vaccine for domestic use, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on state TV, though large-scale clinical trials of the shot, labeled CoviVac and produced by the Chumakov Centre, have yet to begin. Russia has already approved two COVID-19 vaccines, including the Sputnik V shot, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, following a similar approach of granting approval before seeing any late-stage trial results.
20th Feb 2021 - Global News

UK Government needs to donate surplus Covid-19 vaccines now, warns WTO

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has urged the UK Government to start donating Covid-19 vaccines across the world now. The head of the WTO said there should be no delay in sending the surplus coronavirus vaccines to developing countries. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged the Government to act now as it is “in the interest” of rich countries as well as poor countries to have “equitable access”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to donate the majority of the UK’s surplus vaccines to poorer nations in the lead-up to Friday’s virtual G7 meeting
20th Feb 2021 - Wales Online

Covid-19: California’s Governor Reserves Vaccines for Teachers

Under pressure to reopen classrooms in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday that, starting March 1, the state will reserve 10 percent of its first doses of Covid-19 vaccines for teachers and school employees. Noting that the federal government has been steadily increasing the state’s vaccine allotment, the governor said he would set aside 75,000 doses each week for teachers and staff planning to return to public school campuses in person. Although California prioritizes teachers for the vaccine, supply has been an issue. Only about three dozen of the state’s 58 counties have had enough doses on hand to immunize those who work at public schools.
20th Feb 2021 - The New York Times

G-7 vows 'equitable' world vaccine access, but details scant

Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers promised Friday to immunize the world’s neediest people against the coronavirus by giving money, and precious vaccine doses, to a U.N.-backed vaccine distribution effort. But the leaders, under pressure over their vaccination campaigns at home, were unwilling to say exactly how much vaccine they were willing to share with the developing world, or when. Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the G-7 leaders held a virtual meeting that fair distribution of vaccines was “an elementary question of fairness.” But she added, “No vaccination appointment in Germany is going to be endangered.”
20th Feb 2021 - The Associated Press

Iraq sees record Covid-19 cases as new lockdown begins

New lockdown measures came into effect in Iraq on Friday as it recorded its highest new coronavirus caseload in 2021 -- double the daily figures from less than a week ago. Earlier this week, health authorities announced new overnight curfews would begin on February 18th, from 8:00 pm until 5:00 am, as well as full lockdowns on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On its first full lockdown day on Friday, Baghdad's main roads were clear of the usual traffic and security forces had set up new checkpoints to stop violators.
20th Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

Toronto's lockdown extended until at least March 8

A lockdown and stay at home order is being extended in Canada's largest city until at least March 8. The shutdown in Toronto began on Nov 23 after a second novel coronavirus wave hit the province. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said it was a difficult but necessary decision. Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, asked the provincial government this week to extend the lockdown, saying she has never been more worried about the future because of new coronavirus variants.
20th Feb 2021 - Japan Today

Zimbabwean president urges all Zimbabweans to be vaccinated against COVID-19, thanking China for its generosity

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday urged all Zimbabweans to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying that this was the only way to conquer the pandemic. Addressing mourners at the burial of national hero Moses Mpofu at the National Heroes Acre, Mnangagwa said the vaccines which Zimbabwe had received from China earlier during the week were safe and an effective antidote against COVID-19. Vaccinations, however, remain voluntary.
20th Feb 2021 - China Daily

After snap lockdown, New Zealand begins vaccine programme

A few days after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ended the snap lockdown in Auckland, New Zealand has launched its first COVID-19 vaccination programme. The country is using Pfizer-BioNtech's vaccine against the deadly coronavirus. On Saturday, a small group of medical professionals were injected with the approved vaccine in Auckland. Following this, border staff and so-called Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) workers will initiate a bigger and wider rollout of the vaccine.
20th Feb 2021 - WION


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Feb 2021

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Macron urges US, EU to rapidly divert COVID vaccines to Africa

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged fellow European nations and the United States to give up to five percent of their current COVID-19 vaccine supplies to developing countries in Africa, warning poorer nations are paying “astronomical prices” for jabs being made in the West. Macron said the current uneven distribution of doses marked an “unprecedented acceleration of global inequality” and cautioned some countries were being charged two or three times the price paid by the European Union for vaccines such as the one produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca.
19th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Rich nations stockpiling a billion more COVID-19 shots than needed: report

Rich countries are on course to have over a billion more doses of COVID-19 vaccines than they need, leaving poorer nations scrambling for leftover supplies as the world seeks to curb the coronavirus pandemic, a report by anti-poverty campaigners found on Friday. In an analysis of current supply deals for COVID-19 vaccines, the ONE Campaign said wealthy countries, such as the United States and Britain, should share the excess doses to “supercharge” a fully global response to the pandemic. The advocacy group, which campaigns against poverty and preventable diseases, said a failure to do so would deny billions of people essential protection from the COVID-19-causing virus and likely prolong the pandemic. The report looked specifically at contracts with the five leading COVID-19 vaccine makers - Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax.
19th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: NI lockdown extended until 1 April

Lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland will be extended until 1 April, the Stormont Executive has agreed. But children in primary 1 to primary 3 (aged four to seven) will go back to school in Northern Ireland on 8 March. Restrictions were imposed on 26 December to manage the spread of Covid-19. Health officials have said they want to avoid a possible rise in cases around St Patrick's Day on 17 March. Another review of the measures will take place on 18 March. First Minister Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland knew "from experience what looks like success is hard-won, but also fragile". "We need decisions to be safe and sustainable, with a proper sequencing of actions."
18th Feb 2021 - BBC News

How Will Covax Deliver Covid-19 Vaccines to Poorer Countries?

Developing countries are falling dangerously behind in the global race to end the coronavirus pandemic through vaccinations. The Covax facility aims to get Covid-19 shots to at least 20% of the populations of the world’s poorest nations. Covax has made deals with most of the big manufacturers, including Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc. But during the first half of 2021, the majority of planned deliveries from the facility are for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University. For the whole year, the AstraZeneca vaccine is forecast to make up about one-third of Covax supplies, assuming that the shots by J&J and Novavax and other manufacturers get authorized as expected.
18th Feb 2021 - Wall Street Journal

Dutch government races for plan B to uphold nightime coronavirus curfew

The Dutch government raced on Wednesday to prepare legislation to keep a nighttime curfew in place after a court ordered it to scrap the controversial COVID-19 measure which has become the focus of campaigning a month before a general election. The stakes are high politically as Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the country’s top health officials argue the measure is essential to soften a third wave of infections they say is about to arrive due to variants of the coronavirus. Tuesday’s court ruling found the government’s current justifications lacked sufficient legal basis, sending authorities scrambling to draft a bill and enact it swiftly into law.
18th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Erdogan: Turkey to start lifting COVID curbs in March

Turkey will begin a gradual return to normal life on a province-by-province basis from March, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who added that nationwide weekend COVID-19 lockdowns would be lifted in some provinces based on infection rates. Turkey imposed curfews, weekend lockdowns and other curbs in December as cases rose sharply. It plans to reopen schools nationwide on March 1 and its vaccination programme has so far administered shots to nearly 5.7 million people using shots developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
18th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com

Novavax, coronavirus shot data in hand, strikes an eye-popping supply deal with global vaccine consortium

COVID-19 vaccine maker Novavax has at times flown under the radar as some of the world's leading drugmakers dominated headlines and raced toward rollouts. But an eye-popping new supply deal with international players is sure to turn heads. Novavax on Thursday unveiled a memorandum of understanding with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to provide 1.1 billion doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate to COVAX, a global effort to ensure equitable vaccine distribution. The Serum Institute of India will help produce doses under a prior deal between that company and Gavi. The deal will support work by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization to distribute doses in every country worldwide.
18th Feb 2021 - Fierce Pharma


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Feb 2021

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COVID-19: UK calls for temporary ceasefires to allow vaccine rollout in world's war zones

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is calling for a UN resolution for ceasefires across the globe to allow those living in war zones to get COVID vaccines. As he chairs a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, Mr Raab will urge world leaders to agree a resolution for negotiated vaccine ceasefires. The foreign secretary believes there is a "moral duty to act" in order to prevent more than 160 million people being excluded from vaccines because of instability and conflict, including in Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia.
17th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Pfizer and BioNTech reach agreement with European Union for 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech said they have reached an agreement to supply the European Union with another 200 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine. The US and German companies said in a statement that the doses come on top of the 300 million initially ordered. The EU's executive Commission has an option to request a further 100 million doses. They said the 200 million doses are expected to be delivered this year, with an estimated 75 million of them in the second quarter.
17th Feb 2021 - heraldscotland.com

Gaza gets its first COVID-19 vaccine shipment, officials say

Gaza received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday after Israel approved the transfer through its border with the Hamas Islamist-run territory, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
17th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Switzerland Plans Cautious Easing of Pandemic Lockdown From March

Switzerland plans to make its first "cautious steps" towards ending its coronavirus lockdown next month, the government said on Wednesday, contrasting with neighbours that are sticking with many restrictions. In the first step, shops, museums and libraries are due to reopen from March 1. Zoos, gardens and sports facilities will also be reopened, with a final decision to come on Feb. 24. Ministers have been caught being caught between health experts supporting stricter limits and struggling businesses calling for a reopening, but a easing in the number of infections has allowed the government to change course. "The efforts of the last few months are now paying off, the population has been very disciplined," said Health Minister Alain Berset.
17th Feb 2021 - U.S. News & World Report

Covid: Boris Johnson to focus on 'data, not dates' for lockdown easing

Boris Johnson says it is "absolutely right" to take a "data not dates" approach to leaving lockdown, stressing England will ease measures "cautiously". The prime minister said he would set out "what we can" in a road map for easing restrictions on Monday. "We want to be going one way from now on, based on the incredible vaccination rollout," he said. It follows a call from scientists for a data-led approach to lifting measures. Speaking at a mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, south Wales, Mr Johnson said relaxation of measures would be done in "stages" and that the reopening of hospitality was one of the last things to return after the first lockdown.
17th Feb 2021 - BBC News

New prime minister, Mario Draghi, vows to speed up Italy's Covid vaccinations

Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, has pledged to speed up the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme as he presented his government’s priorities before a confidence vote in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday. In his much-anticipated maiden speech, Draghi, who was sworn into office on Saturday, said the government’s first duty was to “fight the pandemic by all means and safeguard the lives of citizens”. His promise came after Italy recorded 336 more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 94,171 – the highest in Europe after the UK – and amid concerns over rapidly spreading Covid-19 variants. “The virus is everyone’s enemy,” Draghi said. “It is in memory of those who are no longer here that our commitment grows”.
17th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

‘India’s COVID-19 infections grossly underestimated’

India’s southern state of Karnataka alone may have had 31.5 million cases of COVID-19 or nearly 95 times greater than have been reported, says a new study that puts a question mark on the 10 million plus cases reported for the whole country so far. Published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study is based on data collected from a representative sample of households in 20 districts of Karnataka, home to 70 million of India’s 1.3 billion people. As of Monday, 15 February, according to Worldometers, India had recorded 10,916,589 cases of COVID-19, second only to the US with 28,261,470 cases. Brazil came in third with 9,834,513 cases.
17th Feb 2021 - SciDev

Australia's second-largest city comes out of 3rd lockdown

Melbourne will relax its third lockdown on Wednesday after authorities contained the spread of a COVID-19 cluster centered on hotel quarantine. The Victoria state government has yet to say whether spectators will be allowed to return to the Australian Open tennis tournament under the same conditions as before the five-day lockdown. Health authorities will soon settle on a final crowd figure for the final days of the tournament, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
17th Feb 2021 - The Independent

New Zealand ends lockdown after deciding outbreak contained

A lockdown in the New Zealand city of Auckland will end at midnight, the government announced Wednesday after concluding a coronavirus outbreak had been contained. “This is good news,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. The move to end the lockdown came as health authorities said the outbreak had grown by three cases to six in total. But Ardern said the additional cases were to be expected because they involved close contacts. Ramped-up testing indicates the outbreak hasn’t spread far.
17th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Ukraine extends COVID-19 lockdown but some regions can ease up

Ukraine will prolong a lockdown until the end of April but will allow regions with fewer COVID-19 cases to ease restrictions, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. Regions will be put into green, yellow, orange and red zones depending on the scale of new infections, he told a televised cabinet meeting.
17th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Vaccination about to pick up pace in Germany - health minister

Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, has pledged to speed up the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme as he presented his government’s priorities before a confidence vote in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday. In his much-anticipated maiden speech, Draghi, who was sworn into office on Saturday, said the government’s first duty was to “fight the pandemic by all means and safeguard the lives of citizens”. His promise came after Italy recorded 336 more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 94,171 – the highest in Europe after the UK – and amid concerns over rapidly spreading Covid-19 variants. “The virus is everyone’s enemy,” Draghi said. “It is in memory of those who are no longer here that our commitment grows”.
17th Feb 2021 - Reuters

‘Wildly unfair’: UN boss says 10 nations used 75% of all vaccines

The United Nations chief has sharply criticised the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, pointing out that just 10 countries have administered 75 percent of all vaccinations. Addressing a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Antonio Guterres said 130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine. “At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community,” he said. Guterres called for an urgent Global Vaccination Plan to bring together those with the power to ensure fair vaccine distribution – scientists, vaccine producers and those who can fund the effort – to ensure all people in every nation get inoculated as soon as possible. The secretary-general further called on the world’s leading economic powers in the Group of 20 to establish an emergency task force that should have the capacity to bring together “the pharmaceutical companies and key industry and logistics actors”. Guterres said a meeting on Friday of the Group of Seven top industrialised nations “can create the momentum to mobilise the necessary financial resources”.
17th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Brussels gives vaccine strategy an injection

The European Commission on Wednesday moved to give its slow-rolling vaccine strategy a booster shot. Battered after weeks of criticism over production delays and other missteps, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen laid out her long-term vaccine promises. She vowed to speed up the approval of vaccines to fight new coronavirus variants and expand genomic sequencing of those variants. She pledged to look into an EU-wide emergency authorization process to more swiftly approve other vaccines. She talked about a new “clinical trial network” and said the EU would buy more vaccines overall through the bloc’s joint procurement program. But what von der Leyen could not — and did not — promise was to immediately make more vaccines available to citizens whom she admitted were rightly frustrated that other countries like the U.K. and Israel have raced ahead.
17th Feb 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Colombia, Mexico roll out vaccine, Brazil suffers shortages

Head nurse Veronica Luz Machado, who for months has battled the coronavirus pandemic from an intensive care unit in the northern Colombian city of Sincelejo, became the first person in the Andean country to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday. Beginning with Machado, Colombia will kick off its plan to immunise 35.2 million people with vaccines acquired through a raft of bilateral deals as well as the World Health Organization-backed COVAX mechanism. “The pandemic really changed our lives completely, particularly for me and my colleagues, because we were facing an unknown virus, we didn’t know how to respond,” Machado, who works at Hospital Universitario, said in a government broadcast earlier this week, before receiving the first shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine. “It’s a risk that health workers face every day when we leave our homes to come to work in what we enjoy, in what we are passionate about. I was very afraid,” Machado, a nurse for more than two decades, added.
17th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

FDA could reject AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine on efficacy and manufacturing shortfalls: analyst

It was bad enough when a study released last week concluded that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was largely ineffective against the aggressive B.1.351 variant that recently emerged in South Africa. Now, analysts are wondering whether inconsistent manufacturing of the vaccine for the clinical trials may have muddied the results—concerns that could give the FDA pause when considering the vaccine for emergency use. That was the conclusion of a note SVB Leerink analysts sent to clients Wednesday, in which they laid out both the bear and bull cases for FDA authorization of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine. The bottom line? The bear case is worrisome, they said. One major concern SVB Leerink cited is that AstraZeneca is manufacturing its vaccine on a “distributed” basis, meaning it’s not centralized, but spread over multiple sites and contract partners. The material used to make the vaccine for the South Africa trial came from a company in India, and it’s not clear where it was manufactured or whether the results from that trial truly reflect the properties of the vaccine that’s being developed for the U.S.
17th Feb 2021 - FiercePharma

Pfizer, Moderna pledge more mRNA vaccine doses to Europe after AZ supply concerns

After a coronavirus vaccine supply feud between top officials in Europe and COVID-19 vaccine player AstraZeneca, officials there are doubling down on their purchase of an alternative technology. This week, the bloc finalized the purchase of 350 million additional mRNA vaccine doses. Pfizer and BioNTech struck a deal with the European Commission to supply 200 million more doses of their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, Corminaty, to the European Union, with the option to sell an additional 100 million doses at a later date. The move comes after a factory upgrade in Belgium prompted the companies to temporarily reduce shipments with an eye on delivering "significantly more" doses in the second quarter. The sale comes on top of 300 million Comirnaty doses the partners sold to the EU in November, bringing the bloc's total order up to 500 million shots. The new 200-million-dose tranche will be rolled out in 2021, with some 75 million doses pegged for delivery in the second quarter.
17th Feb 2021 - Scientific Viewpoint


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Feb 2021

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Fears over Covid vaccine access in Pakistan as private imports sanctioned

Pakistan will allow private companies to import coronavirus vaccines and has exempted the vaccines from price caps in a divisive move that health experts fear will create vast inequalities in access. The country has been scrambling to secure vaccine supplies but so far only the Chinese-made Sinopharm treatment is being deployed. This month 500,000 doses were donated to Pakistan. Like many other countries, Pakistan has been relying on the Gavi/World Health Organization Covax vaccine initiative, but has yet to receive any of the 17m doses it is expecting. The cabinet granted permission for unlimited imports of coronavirus vaccines, which could be sold to customers.
16th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

SA asks Serum Institute to take back 1 million vaccine doses — report

SA has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back the one million Covid-19 vaccine doses the company had sent in early February, The Economic Times reported on Tuesday, a week after the country said it will put on hold use of AstraZeneca's shot in its vaccination programme. Serum Institute of India, which is producing AstraZeneca's shot, has emerged as a key vaccine supplier. One million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine landed in SA last week and another 500,000 were due to arrive in the next few weeks. The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
16th Feb 2021 - TimesLIVE

COVID-19: Another 'Lockdown' in Maharashtra? This district shuts down schools, colleges, imposes restrictions

While the countrywide coronavirus caseload is decreasing, the situation in Maharashtra's Akola is completely opposite as a sudden rise in the infections has raised the administration's concern. To control the spread of COVID-19, strict rules have been implemented in the district till February 28. The administration has restricted social gatherings and has disallowed more than 50 people in functions like weddings. Schools and colleges have also been ordered to close and there is a ban on a gathering of five or more people.
16th Feb 2021 - DNA India

Novavax signs deal with SK Bioscience for 40 mln vaccine doses for S. Korea

U.S. drug developer Novavax Inc said on Monday it has signed a license agreement with South Korea manufacturer SK Bioscience to produce 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for South Korea. “Concurrently, SK Bioscience has finalized an advance purchase agreement with the Korean government to supply 40 million doses of NVX-CoV2373 to the Republic of Korea beginning in 2021,” Novavax said in a statement https://bit.ly/37eMKB2.
16th Feb 2021 - Financial Post

WHO authorizes AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization has granted an emergency authorization to AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, a move that should allow the U.N. agency’s partners to ship millions of doses to countries as part of a U.N.-backed program to tame the pandemic. In a statement Monday, the WHO said it was clearing the AstraZeneca vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India and South Korea’s AstraZeneca-SKBio. The WHO’s green light for the AstraZeneca vaccine is only the second one the U.N. health agency has issued after authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December. Monday’s announcement should trigger the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to countries that have signed up for the U.N.-backed COVAX effort, which aims to deliver vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people.
16th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Squeezed out of the race for Western vaccines, developing countries turn to China

As Peru is caught in the throes of a brutal second wave, millions of people are putting their faith in one country to turn the deadly tide. Peru has joined developing nations from North Africa to the Andes in counting on China for help. For these customers, the vaccines developed in Chinese laboratories and now being distributed globally could hold the solution to a massive problem: how to inoculate their populations after bigger and richer nations have pushed them to the back of the line for the more reliable vaccines developed in the West.
16th Feb 2021 - MSN.com

Zimbabwe Extends COVID-19 Lockdown As Nation Receives 200,000 Doses of China's Sinopharm Vaccine

Every life lost, is a big loss to us. I therefore extend the national lockdown by two weeks. This will see the reduction of active cases and monitoring of cases in incubation."
16th Feb 2021 - Zimbabwe

Australia approves AstraZeneca vaccine, bolstering inoculation programme

Australia’s medical regulator granted provisional approval for AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, bolstering a national inoculation programme it plans to begin rolling out next week. The vaccine boost came as Australia’s second-most populous state neared the likely end of a five-day snap lockdown sparked by a fresh cluster of cases. The federal government says it has ordered enough of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will mostly be manufactured in Australia, to cover the country’s population of 25 million people. It has also ordered enough doses of a vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, which is being manufactured offshore, for a fifth of the population.
16th Feb 2021 - Reuters Australia

South Africa to share COVID vaccine as Europe weighs J&J vaccine

In the latest international COVID-19 developments, South Africa health officials announced they will share the country's AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine with other African nations, and in Europe, Johnson & Johnson submitted its request for an emergency use authorization for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. South Africa recently announced a pause on the rollout of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, following early study findings that it appears have little impact on mild-to-moderate disease from the B1351 variant that is dominant in the country. It followed that development with an announcement that it would temporarily switch to using the unapproved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
16th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

Biden extends foreclosure moratorium for struggling US homeowners

United States President Joe Biden extended a federal moratorium on foreclosures and mortgage forbearance policies on Tuesday, giving the more than 10 million homeowners who are behind on payments additional months of assistance as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the US economy. Biden’s announcement extends the moratorium on foreclosures through the end of June after it was due to expire at the end of next month. The policy also extends the mortgage forbearance window until June 30 and provides up to six months of additional mortgage payment relief for the 2.7 million Americans who are already receiving it, the White House said in a statement.
16th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Feb 2021

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Zimbabwe receives first batch of Sinopharm vaccines

Zimbabwe has received its first 200,000 coronavirus vaccines, a donation by the Chinese government. Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga was at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in the capital, Harare, in the early hours of Monday for the arrival of the doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China.
16th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

South Korea reaches deals to buy more COVID-19 vaccines for 23 million people

South Korea has arranged to buy coronavirus vaccines for 23 million more people, its prime minister said on Tuesday, a day after authorities decided to scale back initial vaccination plans, citing delays and efficacy concerns. The deals include vaccines from Novavax Inc for 20 million people and Pfizer products for 3 million, bringing the total number of people to be covered to 79 million, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said. “The government has been working to bring in sufficient early supplies, but there is growing uncertainty over our plan for the first half due to production issues with global drugmakers and international competition to adopt more vaccines,” he told a televised meeting.
16th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Australia medical regulator approves AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

Australia's medical regulator said on Tuesday it had granted provisional approval for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, making it the second vaccine to get regulatory approval in Australia.
16th Feb 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Incoming WTO head warns 'vaccine nationalism' could slow pandemic recovery

The World Trade Organization’s incoming chief on Monday warned against “vaccine nationalism’ that would slow progress in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and could erode economic growth for all countries - rich and poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters her top priority was to ensure the WTO does more to address the pandemic, saying members should accelerate efforts to lift export restrictions slowing trade in needed medicines and supplies. The former Nigerian finance minister and senior World Bank executive was appointed on Monday in a consensus process and starts her new job on March 1. “The WTO can contribute so much more to helping stop the pandemic,” Okonjo-Iweala said in an interview at her home in a suburb of Washington.
16th Feb 2021 - Reuters

EU seeks new COVID-19 vaccine deal with Moderna, AstraZeneca flags doses made outside EU - sources

The EU is holding talks with Moderna on buying more COVID-19 vaccine and AstraZeneca, with which talks have stalled, has suggested delivering doses of its own vaccine made outside Europe to make up for supply cuts, two EU sources said. The European Union has set a target of vaccinating 70% of its adult population by the end of the summer, but has struggled to secure the doses promised by pharmaceutical companies. It is now trying to expand its reserve of vaccines, which already amount to nearly 2.3 billion doses from six drugmakers for its population of about 450 million. The EU is negotiating a new supply deal with Moderna that could nearly double the volume of vaccine doses from the U.S. biotech firm, two senior EU officials involved in the talks told Reuters.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Millions of asthmatics 'must wait for vaccine'

In England, people whose asthma is under control will not be prioritised for the Covid vaccine, the government has confirmed. Sufferers of the condition will not be on the list ahead of their peers unless they are formally shielding, regularly take steroid tablets or have ever had an emergency hospital admission. This appears to be a rowing back from previous guidance indicating steroid-inhaler users would be eligible. It has since been judged this group is not at increased risk of death. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was following independent advice that the immediate priority should be to "prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality".
15th Feb 2021 - BBC News

South Korea cuts first-quarter COVID-19 vaccination plan, restricts use of AstraZeneca shot

South Korea said on Monday it will not use AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine on people aged 65 and older, reversing an earlier decision, and scaled back initial vaccination targets due to delayed shipments from global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX. South Korea had said it would complete vaccinations on 1.3 million people by the first quarter of this year with AstraZeneca shots, but it slashed the target sharply to 750,000. The decision is largely due to adjustments in the supply timetable of the 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Zimbabwe receives 200,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in donation from China

Zimbabwe has received its first batch of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines from China as it ramps up efforts to begin vaccinating two thirds of its population. Receiving the vaccines at Robert Mugabe International Airport, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said: "it has not been lost on us that in times of need, China's response has been swift." Chiwenga said the donation was "timely" and "yet another demonstration of the long bond of friendship and solidarity." Zimbabwe is the first country in southern African to receive the Sinopharm jabs, whose efficacy against a new variant that emerged in neighbouring South Africa, is still unclear.
15th Feb 2021 - RFI

No new community cases found in New Zealand since lockdown

As people in Auckland adjusted to a new lockdown on Monday, health officials said they'd found no evidence the coronavirus had spread further in the community, raising hopes the restrictions might be short-lived. New Zealand's largest city was hurriedly placed into a three-day lockdown Sunday after three unexplained virus cases were found. It's the country's first lockdown in six months and represents a setback in its largely successful efforts to control the virus. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the negative test results since the first three were found was an encouraging start, but cautioned a fuller picture of the outbreak wouldn't emerge until Tuesday, when the results from an expanded testing regimen would be known.
15th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Vietnamese province reimposes stay at home order in coronavirus battle

Vietnam on Monday reintroduced stay at home measures in the northern province of Hai Duong after it reported dozens of COVID-19 cases there every day since a new outbreak last month. Having stayed clear of the virus for nearly two months, Vietnam was back on high alert after the government confirmed its first community infections in Hai Duong on Jan. 28. The province, where 499 COVID-19 infections have been detected, will be under lockdown from midnight on Tuesday until further notice, the government said.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Hungary's PM seeks renewal of special powers to fight COVID-19

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban asked parliament on Monday to extend the government’s special powers to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, saying only vaccinations would enable the government to ease lockdown measures introduced last autumn. Hungary became the first European Union member state last week to start administering Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine after its regulator approved the shot for emergency use rather than wait for a green light from the EU’s European Medicines Agency. The Hungarian drug regulator has also granted approval to Chinese Sinopharm’s vaccine, also a first in the EU.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Germany defends border controls as business demands lockdown exit plan

Germany said on Monday its decision to impose border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria is a temporary measure of last resort and it defended a lockdown extension against business demands for a roadmap to reopening. The new restrictions along the normally open borders were prompted by alarm over outbreaks in the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region of strains of the coronavirus that spread faster and cause more illness. Germany installed frontier checks on Sunday, drawing protest from Austria and concerns about supply-chain disruptions that could damage the country’s export-oriented manufacturing sector.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Health ministry advisor Ricciardi calls for new lockdown

Walter Ricciardi, a top Italian physician and advisor to Health Minister Roberto Speranza, has suggested Italy have another full-blown nationwide lockdown amid concern about the spread of new variants of COVID-19 in Italy. Ricciardi suggested a short but tough lockdown, in which non-essential activities would be stopped and schools closed. The proposal stirred angry reactions from many quarters, with League leader Matteo Salvini blasting "experts who sow fear". Ricciardi reacted to calls for him to quit by saying he would be prepared to do so if that were deemed "useful".
15th Feb 2021 - ANSA

Germany says pandemic border checks are only temporary

Intensified checks at Germany’s borders meant to slow the spread of the pandemic are only temporary and a last resort, a German government spokesman said on Monday. “A return to normal is in the interest of everyone involved,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference.
14th Feb 2021 - Financial Post

Australia suspends travel bubble with New Zealand after Auckland lockdown

Australia has suspended its quarantine-free travel arrangement with New Zealand following the detection of COVID-19 in a couple and their daughter in Auckland at the weekend. After initially saying there would be no change to the travel bubble, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly convened an urgent meeting late on Sunday with the chief health officers from NSW, Queensland and Victoria. “It was decided at this meeting today that all flights originating in New Zealand will be classified as Red Zone flights for an initial period of 72 hours from 12.01am on 15 February”, a statement from the Department of Health reads.
14th Feb 2021 - Sydney Morning Herald


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Feb 2021

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Japan Health Ministry says it has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

Japan’s Health Ministry said on Sunday it has officially approved Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first such approval in the country as it steps up efforts to tame a third wave of infections in the run-up to the Summer Olympic Games. The move had been widely expected after a government panel recommended approval on Friday, at which point Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said Japan would give its final approval as soon as possible. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said vaccinations will begin from the middle of next week, starting with some 10,000 health workers. The government hopes to secure enough supplies for the whole populace - some 126 million people - by mid-year.
14th Feb 2021 - Reuters

China hits back after US expresses 'deep concerns' over WHO Covid-19 report

China has fired back at the US over allegations from the White House that Beijing withheld some information about the coronavirus outbreak from World Health Organization investigators. The White House on Saturday called on China to make data from the earliest days of the Covid-19 outbreak available, saying it had “deep concerns” about the way the findings of the WHO’s Covid-19 report were communicated. China responded with a statement from its Washington embassy on Sunday, saying the US had already gravely damaged international cooperation on Covid-19 and was now “pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself”.
14th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Serbia donates Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to North Macedonia

Serbia on Sunday donated a first batch of 8,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to North Macedonia, which is yet to deliver its first jabs. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev attended a border checkpoint handover ceremony of the shipment, praising friendship between the two neighboring Balkan states. Serbia, a country of 7 million, has so far vaccinated some 600,000 people, mainly with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and Russian Sputnik V, and to a lesser extent with the Pfizer jab. The country has been one of the most successful in Europe in terms of how fast it has rolled out the vaccine among its population. By contrast, North Macedonia, like most of other Western Balkan countries, has not yet secured a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine for its population of 2.1 million.
14th Feb 2021 - The Independent

New Zealand locks down Auckland after 3 new local COVID-19 cases

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday announced a three-day lockdown in the country’s biggest city Auckland, after three COVID-19 cases emerged, the first local infections since late January. Level 3 restrictions will require everyone to stay home except for essential shopping and essential work, Ardern said, repeating the strict approach the country has taken over the past year in virtually eliminating the pandemic. “We have stamped out the virus before and we will do it again,” Ardern told a news conference. New Zealand, which had gone more than two months without local infections before the January case, is to start inoculating its 5 million people against the new coronavirus on Feb. 20, receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier than anticipated.
14th Feb 2021 - Reuters

First Australian vaccines to arrive this week

Australia’s first shipment of Pfizer vaccines will arrive in the country later this week in a high-security operation, with the first vaccinations to begin within days after arrival. Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed that about 80,000 doses of the first Pfizer vaccines would be exported from Belgium this week where they will arrive in Australia by the end of the week under tight security and be taken to a central distribution point. The Therapeutic Good Administration will then complete final testing of the vaccines to ensure quality before doses are distributed around the country on a per head of population basis. They’ll be taken to hospital hubs and directly to aged care centres, with hospitals told to be ready to administer the first jabs from February 22
14th Feb 2021 - The Australian

All hypotheses on Covid-19 origins still being investigated, says WHO boss

The World Health Organization says it has not ruled out any theory on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, despite one top official earlier this week appearing to dismiss the idea it had escaped from a laboratory. Speaking at a briefing on Friday, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said a summary report from the organization’s team sent to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the virus should be published next week, with a full report coming soon after. But he confirmed that while the scientists made progress in understanding the circumstances around the outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019, more work was needed on all of the potential routes the virus may have taken into the human population.
13th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Germany to close borders to Czech Republic and parts of Austria in fight against new Covid variants

Germany is planning to close its borders with the Czech Republic and part of Austria as it tries to keep outbreaks of the more infectious UK coronavirus variant at bay. Travellers from these countries are likely to face a near total ban on entry to Germany, similar to the rules Berlin has already imposed on Britain, Ireland and Portugal. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is worried that the arrival of highly contagious mutant strains of the virus could undo her country’s progress in bringing down the infection rate, which has fallen by two thirds since Christmas.
13th Feb 2021 - The Times

Italy tightens virus curbs as variant fears rise

Italy on Friday extended a domestic travel ban and tightened restrictions in four regions amid rising concern about the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants. In one of its final acts in office, outgoing prime minister Giuseppe Conte's cabinet renewed until February 25 a ban on travelling between regions that had been due to expire on Monday, a spokesman said. The regions of Abruzzo, Liguria, Tuscany and the autonomous province of Trentino were also moved up to the medium-risk "orange" category from Sunday, meaning that bars, restaurants and museums will be shut. The rest of Italy remains "yellow", with bars and restaurants open until 6:00 pm except for takeaway service, but with a nationwide night curfew.
13th Feb 2021 - Medical Xpress

Greece extends lockdown to more regions to contain COVID-19 pandemic

Greece on Friday extended the full lockdown imposed on metropolitan Athens earlier this week to more regions of the country in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections, the deputy civil protection minister said. Effective on Saturday the region of Achaia in the northwest of the Peloponnese peninsula as well as Euboea, Greece’s second-largest island after Crete, will be in lockdown until Feb. 22 at least, authorities said. This means schools, hair salons and non-essential retail shops will close. “The epidemiological picture countrywide shows a steady deterioration,” Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government, told a news briefing.
13th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Covaxin not finding international takers even when supplied free of cost by India

According to sources, of the 64.7 lakh Covid vaccine doses that have been sent out by India pro bono as part, only 2 lakh are doses of India’s Covaxin. The rest are doses of Serum Institute's Covishield.
13th Feb 2021 - India Today


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Feb 2021

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Biden says US faces ‘national emergency’ amid vaccine shortage

President Joe Biden said that the United States is facing a “national emergency” in the coronavirus pandemic and his administration is working to supply enough COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate 300 million Americans. “We’re in a national emergency,” said Biden, wearing a mask during remarks to scientists at the National Institutes of Health just outside Washington, DC on Thursday. “This will be one of the most difficult operational challenges we have ever undertaken as a nation. It’s going to take time,” Biden said. The US is on pace to exceed Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office, with more than 26 million shots delivered in his first three weeks. The 300 million doses would be delivered by the end of the US summer, Biden said. “We’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July,” he announced. Biden said the US coronavirus death toll is likely to reach 500,000 next month. He urged Americans to wear masks as a “patriotic duty” to prevent the spread.
12th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Venezuelan government and opposition begin talks on vaccine financing

Venezuelan government officials and opposition leaders have met to discuss buying coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX program using cash frozen in the United States by economic sanctions, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. Opposition leader Juan Guaido last week said that Venezuelan funds controlled by the U.S. Treasury Department could be used to pay for vaccines. The cash-strapped government of President Nicolas Maduro has signed up for COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide vaccines globally, but has not made the associated payments. The meeting marks a step forward in what will likely be a long process requiring that U.S. authorities approve the use of the funds, as well as the completion of a vaccination roll-out plan for crisis-stricken Venezuela.
12th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Manitoba agrees to purchase 2M doses of Providence Therapeutics coronavirus vaccine

The Manitoba government has committed to buy two million doses of a made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine currently under clinical trial. Premier Brian Pallister announced the purchase of the Providence Therapeutics COVID-19 vaccine at a Thursday morning press conference. “With today’s announcement we’re taking a big step … to creating a secure, stable supply of Canadian-made COVID vaccines,” Pallister said. A human trial for the prospective vaccine was started in Toronto in late January. In a release Jan. 26 Providence said the vaccine, dubbed PTX-COVID19-B, is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, and is the first fully-made in Canada vaccine to reach the human clinical trial stage.
11th Feb 2021 - Global News

Bolivia signs deal with China´s Sinopharm for coronavirus vaccine

Bolivia said on Thursday it had inked an agreement with China´s Sinopharm locking in an initial supply of half a million doses of the company´s vaccine against coronavirus by the end of February. Bolivian President Luis Arce said China’s President Xi Jinping had agreed to sell Bolivia 400,000 doses and had donated another 100,000 doses to the South American nation, among the poorest in the region. Bolivia has been rocked by political and social upheaval since contested elections in 2019 saw longtime president Evo Morales leave office. It has lagged behind wealthier regional neighbors in securing bilateral vaccine supply deals. The Andean nation has since signed agreements with Russia for its Sputnik V vaccine and India’s Serum Institute for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot. It has also signed a deal with the World Health Organization-backed COVAX initiative.
11th Feb 2021 - Reuters

When will kids be able to get COVID-19 vaccines?

Students as young as first grade might be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted in an interview published by ProPublica on Thursday. Fauci cited clinical trials now underway in the U.S. from vaccine developers Pfizer and Moderna to test the safety and efficacy of the doses in children. He had said previously that the Food and Drug Administration might allow for vaccinations in American children "by the time we get to the late spring and early summer." So far, except for a handful of errors, the nationwide vaccine rollout has not included children.
11th Feb 2021 - CBS News

Government ordered to investigate link between PPE shortages and NHS COVID-19 deaths

A report by the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) highlighted concerns among frontline staff that guidance did not specify a high enough level of PPE to properly protect them against infection, while some supplies were substandard or insect-infected. Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff were more likely to report experiencing PPE shortages or feeling pressured to work without adequate protection - over twice as many BAME doctors reported experiencing PPE shortages compared with white colleagues. The BMA has urged the government to learn from ‘these terrible shortcomings’ and listen to the experiences of frontline workers during the first wave of the pandemic to ensure that healthcare workers are properly protected in the future.
11th Feb 2021 - GP online

Merkel Defends Extension of Germany COVID-19 Lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday defended her decision to extend the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown, saying the variant strains of the virus pose a threat and she does not want to make the mistakes that led to a second surge last year. Following a meeting Wednesday with Germany’s 16 state governors, Merkel announced they agreed to extend the current COVID-19 lockdown - due to expire Sunday - to March 7. Speaking to the Bundestag - the lower house of the German parliament – Merkel said they did not act fast enough in 2020 to prevent a second surge in infections late in the year, and as health officials now warn about the spread of more virulent variant COVID-19 strains in the country, she said they need to learn from their mistakes.
11th Feb 2021 - Voice of America

CDC alters COVID-19 quarantine guidance for vaccine recipients

If you have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are exposed to someone with the virus, you no longer have to quarantine for 14 days as long as you remain free of symptoms, according to new recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because the vaccines prevent symptomatic COVID-19 infections, and symptomatic people are thought to be more contagious, the CDC said the risk of unnecessary quarantine outweighs the potential unknown risk of transmission among vaccinated people.
11th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP

South Africa to use J&J, Pfizer COVID vaccines, says Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says country has secured 9 million Johnson & Johnson and 20 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses. South Africa has secured millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to fight a highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that is dominant in the country, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa. During a televised annual state of the nation address, Ramaphosa said on Thursday the continent’s hardest-hit country had secured nine million doses of the yet-to-be approved J&J vaccine, of which 500,000 would arrive over the next four weeks so authorities could start vaccinating health workers. Another 20 million Pfizer doses have also been secured, he added, with deliveries expected to begin at the end of March.
11th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Portugal Extends COVID-19 Lockdown as Overstretched Hospitals Struggle

Portugal extended on Thursday a nationwide lockdown until March 1 to tackle its worst surge of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began as authorities scramble to relieve pressure on overstretched hospitals. The country of just over 10 million fared better than other nations in Europe in the first wave of the pandemic, but 2021 brought a devastating surge in infections and deaths, in part blamed on the rapid spread of the British variant of the virus and the easing of restrictions over Christmas.
11th Feb 2021 - USNews.com


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Feb 2021

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Single dose of Pfizer vaccine shows signs of success in UK

Official data from the UK’s vaccination campaign show that a single dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer jab offers good protection against Covid-19, boosting the government’s approach of extending the gap between doses. Although not enough evidence is available to draw definitive conclusions about the impact of the vaccination campaign on deaths and hospitalisations, several people with access to government data said indications showed it was reducing cases in the groups prioritised to receive the jab.
11th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

Bahrain authorises Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use - Bahrain TV

Bahrain has authorised Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, Bahrain TV’s twitter account said on Wednesday. Bahrain already uses the Pfizer/BioNTech, vaccine, one manufactured by Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

European Union admits errors in coronavirus vaccine rollout, 'deeply regrets' decision on export curbs

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged failings in the EU's approval and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. She was speaking to MEPs in the European Parliament following criticism of the slow rollout of vaccines and a plan to curb exports that initially sought to set up a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, causing an outcry in London and Dublin. "And yet it is a fact that we are not today where we want to be in the fight against the virus," she said. "We were late with the approval. We were too optimistic on mass production. And perhaps we were also too certain that the orders would actually be delivered on time."
10th Feb 2021 - ABC.Net.au

COVID-19: Boris Johnson says 'we'll have to get used to idea' of autumn booster jabs

The prime minister has raised the prospect of people getting a coronavirus vaccine "booster" jab in the autumn. Boris Johnson said the move would likely be required as the UK battles the emergence of new variants of COVID-19. "I think we're going to have to get used to the idea of vaccinating and then revaccinating in the autumn, as we come to face these new variants," he told the Commons during PMQs. Mr Johnson said a deal with pharmaceutical firm CureVac for 50 million doses would help in developing vaccines to respond "at scale to new variants of the virus".
10th Feb 2021 - Sky News

In Spain, patients with serious conditions left out of AstraZeneca early vaccination

The Covid vaccine made by AstraZeneca will for now only be administered to essential workers in Spain, including teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and members of the armed forces – but not supermarket workers. Although the treatment has been approved by European authorities for anyone over the age of 18, the Spanish government is taking a conservative approach: first it ruled out people over 80 years of age, then it further reduced the target group to those under 55. And on Tuesday, a committee of experts advising the National Healthcare System established that individuals under 55 with certain pre-existing medical conditions will also be left out, at least during the initial phase.
10th Feb 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

New Zealand to inoculate high-risk people first as COVID-19 vaccine gets full approval

New Zealand will first administer COVID-19 vaccines to quarantine personnel, front line health workers and airline staff, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said, as the government formally approved its use on Wednesday. New Zealand’s medicines regulator last week provisionally approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech. “Now we’ve reached the crucial stage of approval for the first vaccine, we are in a much better position to start having a conversation with New Zealanders about how we plan to proceed,” Hipkins said in a statement. Authorities expect the Pfizer vaccine to arrive in the country by end-March but they had expressed concerns about export curbs.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Greek premier orders full lockdown in Athens after surge in coronavirus cases

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday announced a full lockdown in the capital Athens and the surrounding region to curb a resurgence in coronavirus cases and ease pressure on badly stretched health services. The new restrictions in the Athens region, where half of Greece’s population of 11 million lives, include closing non-essential shops and schools from Feb. 11 until the end of the month, Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “I will not hide: In the next two months, restrictions may be imposed and lifted depending on the level of alarm,” he said after chairing an emergency meeting with ministers and health experts. “But this is also the last mile towards freedom.” Authorities registered 1,526 infections on Tuesday, more than double the number recorded a day earlier - half of them in the wider Athens area, with COVID-19 related deaths reaching 6,017 since the coronavirus was first detected.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

'The best shield': Peru launches inoculation drive with Sinopharm vaccine

Peru launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Tuesday with newly arrived doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, as the South American country struggles to control a fierce second wave of infections that has forced a lockdown in the capital, Lima. Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti was vaccinated later in the day and urged vaccine skeptics to get inoculated. A survey by Ipsos Peru last month showed 48% of Peruvians would refuse to be vaccinated, citing fears of side effects.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Sweden registers 4,070 new COVID-19 cases, 138 deaths on Wednesday

Sweden, which has spurned a lockdown throughout the pandemic, registered 4,070 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, Health Agency statistics showed. The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 138 new deaths, taking the total to 12,326. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and weeks. Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than several European countries that opted for lockdowns.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters

WHO advisors recommend AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine advisory group today recommended the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for emergency use, a key development that clears the way for lower- and middle-income countries to receive their first deliveries from the COVAX program. In other global developments, the WHO said in a weekly update that overall cases and deaths show more signs of decline, a promising development, though cases are rising in some nations and more countries are reporting the detection of variant SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
10th Feb 2021 - CIDRAP


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Feb 2021

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European Union will not block Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses bound for Australia, ambassador says

Millions of doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine bound for Australia will be allowed to leave the European Union (EU), its ambassador has confirmed. Australia has secured 20 million doses of the vaccine, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously saying the goal was to vaccinate 80,000 people a week from the end of February. Concerns were raised about whether Australia would receive its order after the EU introduced new rules on exports of COVID-19 vaccines produced within the bloc, including Pfizer.
9th Feb 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Ethiopia says it has secured 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines till April

Ethiopia has secured nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines up until April and hopes to inoculate at least a fifth of its 110 million people by the end of the year, the health minister said on Tuesday. “For now up to April we have been allocated close to nine million doses,” Lia Tadesse said. “Within this year we want to make sure we get at least 20% of the population,” she told Reuters.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Germany set to stay in lockdown for fear of virus mutations — draft document

German officials are considering lifting some measures in the coming weeks, but the shutdown will continue for now, DW learned on Tuesday. Federal and state representatives are set to announce their decision tomorrow. "Considering the virus mutations, the steps to lift the restrictions must come carefully and gradually in order to avoid risking the successful curbing of infections," Germany's top officials are expected to say, according to a draft statement obtained by DW. The document foresees the country continuing its shutdown until March. The authorities see reopening of day care centers and schools as a priority, the document states. They remain "optimistic that all citizens would be offered vaccination by the end of summer at the latest."
9th Feb 2021 - DW (English)

Spain extends border controls with Portugal until March due to COVID-19

Spain’s government announced on Tuesday it had extended controls along its 1,200-km (750-mile) border with Portugal until March 1, as both countries try to rein in a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. “The severity of the restrictive mobility measures still in force in Spain and Portugal justifies maintaining ... controls at the internal land border ... with the same limitations applied during the initial ten days,” the Spanish interior ministry said in the government’s official bulletin. The two governments had agreed to close on Jan. 28 the border for non-essential travel with exceptions for cross-border workers, health workers and truck drivers.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

WHO team: Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from Chinese lab

The coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal, a World Health Organization team has concluded, an expert said Tuesday as the group wrapped up a visit to explore the origins of the virus. The Wuhan Institute of Virology in central China has collected extensive virus samples, leading to allegations that it may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into the surrounding community. China has strongly rejected that possibility and has promoted other theories for the virus’s origins. The WHO team that visited Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in December 2019, is considering several theories for how the disease first ended up in humans, leading to a pandemic that has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
9th Feb 2021 - POLITICO

Dutch government to extend night curfew through March 2

The Dutch government will extend a night-time curfew intended to slow the spread of coronavirus through March 2, broadcaster RTL reported on Monday, citing sources in The Hague. The curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War Two, sparked several days of riots from anti-lockdown protesters when it was initially introduced on Jan. 23.. RTL reported that Mark Rutte’s government would announce the extension at a news conference later Monday. New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands have been declining after months of lockdown measures, but the government is warning that a wave of new infections is coming due to the growth in more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

A Q&A with WHO’s emergencies chief on Covid-19, why he’s hopeful, and when normalcy might return

This time last year, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, was strenuously urging the world to try to contain the new virus that was spreading in and from China. The world, he said, had the necessary tools: contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. “There’s enough evidence to suggest that this virus can still be contained,” he told STAT in an interview for a story published Feb. 1, 2020. The world didn’t move swiftly enough to put SARS-CoV-2 “back in the box,” to borrow an expression sometimes used by scientists to describe viral containment. More than 100 million people around the globe have been infected with Covid-19, and more than 2.3 million people have died.
9th Feb 2021 - Stat News

Russia, China expanding Middle East sway with COVID-19 vaccines

Russian and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are being embraced by many countries in the Middle East – not just by those hostile to the United States, but also by its allies. Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait purchased US vaccines, claiming their efficacy rate is higher, and Iraq has ordered vaccines from the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca and the US’s Pfizer. But the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, and Turkey have signed up for vaccines from Moscow and Beijing as well buying US vaccines, while Iran and the Palestinian Authority are relying on Russian and Chinese jabs only. Iran’s economy has struggled since the US reimposed sanctions on it under former President Donald Trump and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a diktat against the use of US and UK vaccines. Sputnik V was approved under special emergency-use authorization and Iran began rolling it out on Tuesday.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Austria tries to contain S.African variant outbreak by voluntary means

Austria on Monday opted against placing the whole Alpine province of Tyrol under quarantine to contain an outbreak of the so-called South African variant of the coronavirus, instead urging the public not to go there unless they have to. The province, a winter sports hotspot, has so far been unable to explain how the variant arrived in the Ziller Valley, long a popular tourist area. Austrian ski lifts have been allowed to open since Dec. 24, but hotels are closed for all but business travel and restaurants can only serve takeaway meals. Tyrol's provincial government has opposed the idea of a province-wide quarantine in talks with the national government on how to contain the variant. Both governments are led by the conservative People's Party. Austria loosened a national lockdown on Monday, letting non-essential shops reopen.
8th Feb 2021 - Reuters


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Cambodia gets first COVID-19 vaccine from key ally China

Cambodia on Sunday received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, a donation of 600,000 doses from China the country’s biggest ally. Prime Minister Hun Sen his senior Cabinet members and Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian were at Phnom Penh International Airport for a reception ceremony for the Sinopharm vaccine carried by a Chinese Air Force flight. Hun Sen had announced that he would be the first person to be vaccinated, but backtracked last week, saying the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine was effective only for people aged between 18 and 59, while he is 68. He said Sunday at the airport that he would urge younger members of his family, as well as top officials and generals under 60, to get vaccinated Wednesday as an example to the public
8th Feb 2021 - The Independent

China approves Sinovac's coronavirus vaccine -

China’s national regulator has approved Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use by the general public. This is the second vaccine approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA). Both of the vaccines, along with another experimental vaccine from Sinopharm, have been used in China’s vaccination programme. More than 31 million doses have been administered, mainly targeting groups at higher infection risks, while a fourth experimental vaccine from CanSino Biologics has been given to military personnel. Brazilian clinical trial results published last month showed the vaccine, dubbed Coronavac, is just over 50% effective.
8th Feb 2021 - pharmaphorum

Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta begin relaxing COVID-19 restrictions

Several provinces began relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on Monday amid what Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam described as “hopeful signs of declining COVID-19 activity.“ Loosened rules went into effect in Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia, while the Ontario government announced that restrictions in some parts of the province would start being eased on Wednesday. The number of new cases reported daily across the country is continuing to trend down, Tam said in a statement. But she warned that these trends could reverse quickly and that new variants “could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada.”
8th Feb 2021 - The Star

Revisiting Ischgl: Austria eases coronavirus lockdown, annoys Bavaria

Austria is easing its coronavirus lockdown after six weeks, despite stubbornly high infection numbers. While the government is keeping bars, restaurants and hotels closed and a nighttime curfew in place, schools, hairdressers and museums reopened on Monday under strict hygiene rules as testing capacities were expanded. The move came amid growing pressure on Vienna to lift at least some restrictions, with data showing that Austria's economic downturn is particularly severe. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the economy contracted by 4.3 percent over the previous quarter amid slumping tourism, the worst performance of any EU country for that period.
8th Feb 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Israel begins exit from third virus lockdown

Israeli barbershops and some other businesses reopened Sunday as the country began easing its third coronavirus lockdown Sunday amid an aggressive vaccination campaign. Early Friday, the government announced it was lifting some restrictions imposed since December, when the country saw a rise in Covid-19 infections. Jerusalem barber Eli Aroas was among those re-opening on Sunday morning, the start of the working week.
8th Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

S Africa looking to roll out AstraZeneca jab in ‘stepped manner’

South Africa is looking to roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in a “stepped manner” to assess its ability to prevent severe illness, according to a key adviser to the country’s government. On Sunday, almost a week after receiving its first one million doses, the continent’s hardest-hit country said it would put on hold its use of the vaccine after research showed it was only minimally effective in preventing mild-to-moderate illness against a variant of the coronavirus now dominant in South Africa. Speaking to a briefing of the World Health Organization (WHO), Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the country’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19, said it was too early to say whether the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca vaccine would still be effective in preventing serious disease, as there was not yet enough data on its effectiveness in older people against the variant. South Africa paused its roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine for now while determining the next steps, and could vaccinate 100,000 people with the shot to see how well it works on preventing hospitalisations and deaths.
8th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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UK eyes COVID-19 booster in autumn, then annual vaccinations, says minister

A COVID-19 booster in the autumn and then annual vaccinations are very probable, Britain’s vaccine deployment minister said on Sunday as countries race to administer injections in the face of new variants. Britain has already injected over 12 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccines and is on track to meet a target to vaccinate everyone in the top most vulnerable groups by mid-February. Among coronavirus variants currently most concerning for scientists and public health experts are the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants, which appear to spread more swiftly than others.
7th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Cambodia gets first COVID-19 vaccine from key ally China

Cambodia on Sunday received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, a donation of 600,000 doses from China, the country’s biggest ally. Prime Minister Hun Sen, his senior Cabinet members and Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian were at Phnom Penh International Airport for a reception ceremony for the Sinopharm vaccine carried by a Chinese Air Force flight. Hun Sen had announced that he would be the first person to be vaccinated, but backtracked last week, saying the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine was effective only for people aged between 18 and 59, while he is 68. He said Sunday at the airport that he would urge younger members of his family, as well as top officials and generals under 60, to get vaccinated Wednesday as an example to the public.
7th Feb 2021 - ABC News

Coronavirus in Scotland: Restrictions will not be scrapped when vaccine rollout complete, says Deputy First Minister

Covid-19 restrictions will not be scrapped in Scotland once the vaccination programme is complete, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.
6th Feb 2021 - The Scotsman

China Approves Second Coronavirus Vaccine for Public Use

Sinovac Biotech Ltd. received regulatory approval from Chinese authorities for its coronavirus vaccine to be used by the general public in the country’s second such authorization. The conditional approval was announced by the National Medical Products Administration on Saturday. Sinovac earlier said the protective efficacy of its vaccine, CoronaVac, met World Health Organization and China regulatory standards 14 days after the completion of two shots. With the approval, the vaccine can be administered to the general population following one developed by state-owned China National Biotec Group Co. which got permission in December. The Chinese regulator had endorsed CoronaVac for emergency use in July.
6th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Slovenia eases anti-coronavirus restrictions after criticism

Slovenia will reopen ski resorts and some shops and has eased restrictions on people entering the country imposed to help reduce the rate of COVID-19 infections, after coming under pressure over its handling of the pandemic. From Saturday, daily migrant workers and academics entering Slovenia from European Union countries that have lower 14-day incidences of COVID-19 will not have to present negative coronavirus tests, or be quarantined, the government said. Also, ski resorts as well as shops and service businesses not larger that 400 square meters will be allowed to reopen next week, with weekly mandatory testing of employees, Economy Minister Zdravko Pocivalsek said.
6th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Governor Cuomo Announces List of Comorbidities and Underlying Conditions Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Starting February 15

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today released the list of comorbidities and underlying conditions that New York State will use to determine eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. New Yorkers who have one of the comorbidities on the list will be eligible for the vaccine beginning February 15. "New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions exist throughout the state's population—they're our teachers, lawyers and carpenters, in addition to the doctors who keep us safe every day, and they are a highly affected population," Governor Cuomo said. "We're committed to vaccinating vulnerable populations that have suffered the most as we distribute a strictly limited supply of vaccines, and people with comorbidities are 94 percent of the state's COVID deaths. That's why we'll open eligibility to people with comorbidities starting February 15 and give hospitals the ability to use extra doses they have to address that population. Local governments have a week to prepare for the new change—they need to get ready now."
5th Feb 2021 - ny.gov

Burundi says it doesn't need COVID-19 vaccines, at least yet

Burundi has become at least the second African country to say it doesn’t need COVID-19 vaccines, even as doses finally begin to arrive on the continent that’s seeing a deadly resurgence in cases. The health minister of the East African nation, Thaddee Ndikumana, told reporters on Thursday evening that prevention is more important, and “since more than 95% of patients are recovering, we estimate that the vaccines are not yet necessary.” The minister spoke while announcing new measures against the pandemic. The country closed its land and water borders last month. It now has well over 1,600 confirmed coronavirus cases.
5th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Coronavirus in Tanzania: The country that's rejecting the vaccine

For months Tanzania's government has insisted the country was free from Covid-19 - so there are no plans for vaccination. The BBC's Dickens Olewe has spoken to one family mourning the death of a husband and father suspected of having had the disease. The fear is that amid the denial, there are many more unacknowledged victims of this highly contagious virus. A week after Peter - not his real name - arrived home from work with a dry cough and loss of taste, he was taken to hospital, where he died within hours. He had not been tested for Covid. But then, according to Tanzania's government, which has not published data on the coronavirus for months, the country is "Covid-19-free". There is little testing and no plans for a vaccination programme in the East African country.
5th Feb 2021 - BBC News


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Iran receives its first batch of foreign coronavirus vaccine

Iran on Thursday received its first batch of foreign-made coronavirus vaccines as the country struggles to stem the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East. The shipment consists of 500,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines which arrived at Tehran’s Imam Khomeieni International Airport from Moscow, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. Also Iranian state TV quoted Tehran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, as saying that Iran has ordered 5 million doses from Russia. The next batches are to arrive on Feb. 18 and Feb. 28, said Jalali.
4th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Cuomo hit with lawsuit over Covid-19 vaccinations for inmates

Public defenders filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday, seeking to force him to allow prisoners to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Two men currently locked up at Rikers Island who want to get vaccinated are named as plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, brought on behalf of everyone incarcerated at Rikers and other city jails. Legal advocates have demanded that Cuomo allow access to the shot behind bars, where the coronavirus is raging, but the state so far has not budged on expanding eligibility.
4th Feb 2021 - Politico

COVID-19: MEPs want to ensure developing countries' access to vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines should be produced also in developing countries to overcome the pandemic, development MEPs told Commissioner Urpilainen on Thursday. “Distributing vaccines globally is our exit strategy from the pandemic,” International Partnership Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen told the Development Committee, adding that the Commission will coordinate a “common EU vaccine sharing mechanism”, in which EU countries can donate part of their vaccines through the COVAX program, especially when vaccine production is scaled up. The EU is also seeking to scale up production capacity in developing countries and to contribute to strengthening their regulatory framework in the pharmaceutical field, she said
4th Feb 2021 - EU News

To avoid lockdown, France cracks down on Covid rule breakers

The scene at the small Parisian cafe looks almost normal: smokers queueing for a pack of cigarettes, gamblers buying lottery tickets or picking up betting slips for the races. That is, until the police walk in, reminding customers, and the owner, that nothing is the same in the Covid pandemic. "There are too many people here, count them," an officer orders his team.
4th Feb 2021 - RFI

North Korea to receive nearly 2 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses in first half of the year

North Korea has requested COVID-19 vaccines and is expected to receive nearly two million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine by the first half of this year, said agencies leading the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme. The COVAX Facility will distribute 1.99 million doses of the vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, according to the COVAX interim distribution report on Wednesday (Feb 3).
4th Feb 2021 - Channel NewsAsia

Western Australia lifts lockdown as raft of restrictions kick in

Western Australia is preparing to take steps out of its snap five-day lockdown with a raft of restrictions to be lifted at 6pm on Friday. Premier Mark McGowan said the state will forge ahead with lifting its lockdown after a week-long testing blitz uncovered no new cases as of 8pm on Thursday. People in the Perth and Peele areas will be free to leave their homes from tomorrow night, with masks mandatory both indoors and outdoors and on public transport. However, masks will not required during vigorous outdoor exercise. Community sports may also resume.
4th Feb 2021 - MSN.com

Singapore approves Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Singapore on Wednesday approved the use of a second COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years and above. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is the second to be approved after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine currently being used. The Expert Committee has independently reviewed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and efficacy data for different population segments in Singapore, and has been briefed by The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on its full range of considerations in granting interim authorisation, and is satisfied with its safety and efficacy. “In assessing the suitability of vaccine candidates for specific population groups, the Expert Committee took into consideration the safety, efficacy and tolerability of the vaccine and data adequacy of clinical trials. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a high vaccine efficacy of 94%, and its safety profile is consistent with the standards set for other registered vaccines used in the immunisation against other diseases,” a release on the Ministry of Health website stated.
4th Feb 2021 - Connected To India

Mexico approves emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine and orders more than 7 million doses

Mexico authorized the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on Tuesday. The approval of the coronavirus vaccine comes a week after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reached an agreement with President Vladimir Putin. During Tuesday's announcement, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Mexico will receive 7.4 million vaccine doses between February and April. The government also started the second phase of its vaccination process for people over the age of 60. The coronavirus pandemic has slammed Mexico with 159,333 confirmed deaths - the third-most in the world - and 1,874,092 cases
4th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

New Zealand gives provisional approval to Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved for use in New Zealand, where the government will begin vaccinating frontline healthcare and border workers in the coming months. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, said the approval was a positive step in the country’s fight against Covid-19, of which there have been fewer than 2,000 cases nationally. In New Zealand the approval of medicines and vaccines falls under Medsafe, which also provides independent advice to the government. Although the assessment of the Pfizer vaccine was fast-tracked in New Zealand, it was not given the pace of an “emergency” medicine as the virus has been largely under control.
4th Feb 2021 - The Guardian on MSN.com

Nicaragua approves Russian COVID-19 vaccine

Nicaragua’s government said Wednesday that it had approved Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. “Nicaragua is advancing in its negotiations with Russia to supply” the vaccine, said the government outlet El 19 Digital. It was the first vaccine approved in Nicaragua, which still awaits its first doses. The government had said in January that it had initiated efforts to acquire vaccines from various laboratories around the world and hoped to vaccinate 3.7 million people in an initial stage.
4th Feb 2021 - The Independent

AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in Ireland by Minister for Health

Ireland has received a major boost in the vaccine rollout plan, as the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the country. COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is given as two injections into the arm, the second between 4 to 12 weeks after the first. The Government's target of vaccinating 700,000 people by the end of March was contingent on the arrival of 600,000 AstraZeneca doses. However, 300,000 vaccines will be delivered instead as a result of a delay.
4th Feb 2021 - Buzz.ie

EU drugs watchdog partners with regulators on COVID-19 vaccines, drugs

Europe’s drugs regulator said on Thursday it had started sharing COVID-19 vaccine and treatment expertise with its counterparts in several countries, aiming to speed up regulatory processes around the world. The pilot aims to speed up development and assessment of COVID-19 medicines and make them available to the public faster, the European Medicines Agency said, adding that the collaboration comes "at a time when vaccine hesitancy has increased." It said that the collaboration, which began in December, will promote overall transparency and may increase public trust in the vaccines and therapeutics as regulatory decisions are open to peer-review.
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

U.S. Senate Democrats push ahead on road to new COVID-19 relief

The U.S. Senate, in the throes of a marathon debate over the shape of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to exclude upper-income Americans from a new round of direct payments to help stimulate the economy. By a vote of 99-1, the Senate approved an amendment recommending that high-income earners not qualify for a new round of government checks that could amount to $1,400 for individuals. Republican Senator Rand Paul was the lone dissenter. Details of the income cap would still have to be worked out in subsequent legislation. “The decent compassionate thing is for us to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling every day to get by” during the coronavirus pandemic, said Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, author of the proposal.
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Qatar reimposes restrictions amid surge in COVID-19 infections

The measures affect education, leisure and business activities as the Gulf country seeks to head off a potential second wave. Qatar has reimposed a series of coronavirus-related restrictions on education, leisure and business activities, including closing indoor swimming pools and theme parks and restricting restaurant capacities. The measures came into effect on Thursday, a day after they were first announced as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections.
4th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine given full approval by EU regulator

The European Medicines Agency has authorised the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for use in all adult age groups after days of doubt. A month after it received approval in the UK, the EU’s regulator declared the vaccine safe for general use across the 27 member states. The shot is the third Covid-19 vaccine given the green light by the EMA, after ones made by Pfizer and Moderna. Both were authorised for all adults. There had been concerns that a lack of data about the effects of the vaccine on older people could put authorisation for those aged over 65 in doubt.
29th Jan 2021 - The Guardian


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Guaido: Maduro refuses to access US-held funds to buy vaccines

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Wednesday that Venezuelan funds controlled by the United States Treasury Department could be used to pay for coronavirus vaccines but that President Nicolas Maduro’s government is refusing to cooperate. The government has not accepted an implementation plan laid out by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that would enable Venezuela to join the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) programme, and has not fulfilled a prior deal regarding distribution of COVID-19 tests.
4th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

France to start producing coronavirus vaccines at four labs amid pressure to speed up innoculations

France will soon begin production coronavirus vaccines from four laboratories, the president has said, as the country faces pressure to speed up inoculations. Emmanuel Macron said all French people who are willing to be vaccinated against the virus will be offered a jab by the end of the summer.
3rd Feb 2021 - The Independent on MSN.com

Israel opens coronavirus vaccines to all over-16s

Israel’s health ministry has said it will offer coronavirus vaccines to anyone over the age of 16, as part of a rapid campaign that has already seen the majority of older and vulnerable populations receive shots. The ministry has told healthcare providers they can start booking appointments for the new age group starting on Thursday. One in three Israelis has received at least one injection, a far higher fraction than anywhere else. The country of 9 million had previously allowed anyone over 35, as well as at-risk groups and exam-taking students aged 16 to 18, to be inoculated.
3rd Feb 2021 - The Guardian on MSN.com

China announces plan to provide 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses to developing nations through global COVAX facility

China announces plan to provide 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses to developing nations through global COVAX facility.
3rd Feb 2021 - ABC News

COVID-19: Nicola Sturgeon aims for phased return of Scotland schools within three weeks

A phased return of pupils to classrooms in Scotland could begin from 22 February, the first minister has announced. Nicola Sturgeon revealed the news as she confirmed the country's COVID-19 lockdown restrictions would be extended until at least the end of February. Ms Sturgeon said the measures were having an effect, noting that the prevalence of the virus has fallen in Scotland, but stressed "continued caution" was required with pressure on the NHS still "severe". She held out the prospect of a "careful and gradual" easing of restrictions from the start of next month, if progress continues to be made, adding she would update MSPs on a possible relaxation of measures in two weeks.
3rd Feb 2021 - Sky News

WA lockdown to remain as state records no new cases

Western Australia’s five-day lockdown will remain as the state records a second day of zero COVID-19 cases.
3rd Feb 2021 - 9News

New Zealand regulator approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

New Zealand on Wednesday warned against “vaccine nationalism” that could delay the rollout of international shipments after its medicines regulator provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she still expected supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech product to arrive in the country by end-March, but expressed concern at any attempt to limit exports. “The world just can’t afford for that to happen. We won’t be safe until we have widespread rollout across the globe,” she told a news conference. “So it’s in everybody’s interest that we see vaccine programmes continuing to roll out in other countries.”
3rd Feb 2021 - Reuters India

Dutch PM Rutte confirms lockdown to last until at least March

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday that most of the lockdown measures in the Netherlands, many of which have been in place since October, will remain in place for weeks due to fears over a surge in cases as a result of variant strains. Rutte’s government is still weighing whether to continue an evening curfew that has triggered rioting in some Dutch cities beyond next week, the prime minister told a press briefing. The government announced earlier this week that primary schools and daycares will reopen on Feb. 8, adding that it is also looking at possibly reopening secondary schools but that will not happen before March.
3rd Feb 2021 - Reuters

Qatar announces new restrictions amid fears of second COVID wave

Qatar has announced new restrictions amid a surge in coronavirus cases that authorities said could lead to a second wave of infections. The 32-point plan, made public on Wednesday, includes provisions to limit at 80 percent the number of staff present at their workplace. Among other things, it also reimposes a ban on indoor weddings, with some exceptions. The announcement came as Qatar announced an 85 percent increase in the number of hospitalisation cases in January compared with the previous month. “We have seen an 85 percent increase in January compared to December in the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospital,” Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, said.
3rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Biden administration to provide COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies

The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to US pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations as new and potentially more serious virus strains are starting to appear. Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said starting from next week some 6,500 pharmacies around the country will receive one million doses of vaccine. The number of participating pharmacies, and the allocation of vaccines, are expected to accelerate as drugmakers increase production. “This is a key component of president Biden’s national strategy: offering vaccination in America’s pharmacies,” Zients said during a White House virtual briefing.
3rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

PM unveils deal with Novavax to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a deal has been struck with Novavax to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, but the pharmaceutical company isn’t expected to be ready to roll out doses domestically until the fall at the earliest. The federal government has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Novavax to pursue options to produce its COVID-19 vaccine at a new Montreal facility that is under construction. While the prime minister is calling this a “major step forward,” it could be months before this potential first made-in-Canada vaccine candidate is approved, let alone shipped to delivery sites nationwide.
2nd Feb 2021 - CTV News

Uganda orders 18 mln doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

Uganda has ordered 18 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and up to 40% of the shipments are expected to arrive in the country by the end of March, the government said on Tuesday. Uganda has so far reported 39,651 COVID-19 cases and 325 deaths - a much lower toll than in most countries due to what experts attribute to years of experience battling other viral outbreaks such as HIV AIDS and Ebola. Its economy, however, is reeling from the impact of the measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The vaccine shots will be procured from the Serum Institute of India, the government said in a statement detailing cabinet deliberations at a sitting held on Monday.
2nd Feb 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Eye on Africa - South Africa eases some Covid-19 restrictions as vaccines arrive

In tonight's edition: South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country has "passed the peak" of its second wave of Covid-19, allowing for the easing of restrictions ahead of the first vaccinations this month.
2nd Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

Scotland toughens quarantine rules, hopes for lockdown easing in March

Scotland will toughen its coronavirus controls on international travellers but it also hopes to start relaxing its lockdown restrictions in early March, the head of the country’s devolved government, Nicola Sturgeon, said on Tuesday. Everyone arriving directly in Scotland from overseas will be required to quarantine, regardless of where they have come from, Sturgeon said. “I can confirm today that we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from,” she told the Scottish parliament. Scotland will ask Britain’s government to adopt a similar approach to minimise the risk of people with COVID-19 entering Scotland over the border with England and other parts of the United Kingdom.
2nd Feb 2021 - Metro US

Ramaphosa announces eased level 3 lockdown for South Africa – including changes for alcohol sales and curfew

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa’s adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations will be relaxed following a decline in Covid-19 transmissions. In a national address on Monday (1 February), the president said that the country has recorded its lowest daily increase in infections since December, and that the country has now passed the peaked of the second wave. The average number of daily infections has almost halved, while the number of hospital admissions has also dropped, the president said. While the indicators are pointing in the right direction, Ramaphosa said that that the number of transmissions in the country is still relatively high.
2nd Feb 2021 - BusinessTech

Malaysia extends coronavirus lockdown by 2 weeks

Malaysia’s government on Tuesday extended a lockdown and broad movement restrictions by two weeks, as the Southeast Asian nation grapples with a surge in coronavirus infections that has pushed the cumulative total past 200,000 cases. The lockdown, which covered all but one state and was to end on Feb. 4, will now continue until Feb. 18, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said. “The health ministry has confirmed that daily cases in all states are still showing a rising trend... the sporadic spread in the community is also high,” Ismail Sabri said in a televised address. The lockdown will allow some leeway for businesses to continue operating, especially micro-enterprises and small-time traders, but continue to bar inter-state travel and social activities, the minister said.
2nd Feb 2021 - Reuters

Palestinians begin COVID vaccinations in occupied West Bank

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has started COVID vaccination in the occupied West Bank after receiving 2,000 doses from Israel, Palestinian officials said. The Moderna vaccines are the first batch of the promised 5,000 shots to be delivered by Israel to inoculate medical workers. In recent weeks, Israel has faced mounting global pressure, including from the United Nations, to help Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip to gain access to vaccines. “We started today,” Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said on Tuesday, adding that a supply of doses would be sent to Gaza, an Israeli-blockaded territory controlled by the Palestinian group Hamas, so that inoculation of front-line workers could begin in the enclave. “We have given highest priority to health personnel … and those working in intensive care units,” she said in a video distributed by Palestinian television.
2nd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Coronavirus in Scotland: Over 575,000 people have had first dose of vaccine, says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said over 575,000 people have had first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Scotland. Speaking at the Scottish Government daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, the First Minister added this included 98% of those living in care homes for older people, and 88% of staff in these homes. Ms Sturgeon also said that vaccinations for the over-70s have begun – with two mass vaccination centres opening in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Already 14% of the over-75s have been vaccinated.
1st Feb 2021 - The Scotsman on MSN.com

Covid-19: UK orders extra 40m doses of Valneva vaccine

The UK has ordered an extra 40 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine from the French pharmaceutical company Valneva, that should become available later in the year and into 2022. The government says it will give flexibility should people need revaccinating next winter or beyond. The UK has secured 407 million doses of different coronavirus vaccines - more than enough for the entire population. Valneva's jab is still being tested in trials. Although those will take time to satisfy regulators before it can be rolled out, manufacturing at a site in West Lothian, Scotland, has already begun. The site is already supporting 100 new highly-skilled local jobs for scientists and technicians.
1st Feb 2021 - BBC News

Israel to give 5,000 coronavirus vaccines to Palestinian doctors

Israel has agreed to transfer 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinians to immunize frontline medical workers, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz's office announced Sunday. It was the first time that Israel has confirmed the transfer of vaccines to the Palestinians, who lag far behind Israel's aggressive vaccination campaign and have not yet received any vaccines.
1st Feb 2021 - NBC News

South Africa welcomes first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines

South Africa gave a hero’s welcome Monday to the delivery of its first COVID-19 vaccines — 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa greeted the crates of vaccine that arrived at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. The shipment will be followed up later this month by another 500,000 doses. The vaccine will be effective in preventing severe disease and death from the variant that has become dominant in South Africa, a vaccine expert says. The AstraZeneca vaccines will be used to inoculate South Africa’s front-line health workers, which will kickstart the country’s vaccination campaign. The first jabs are expected to be administered in mid-February, after the vaccines are tested and approved by South Africa’s drug regulatory authorities.
1st Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Israel extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Israel's nationwide lockdown was extended Monday to contain the coronavirus which has continued to spread rapidly as the country presses ahead with an aggressive vaccination campaign. The current lockdown, declared on December 27, is the third in the Jewish state since pandemic began last year. The cabinet prolonged the closure until Friday morning, but scheduled a fresh meeting for Wednesday to assess whether a further extension was required, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the health ministry said.
1st Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

COVAX to send millions of AstraZeneca shots to Latin America

The COVAX global vaccine sharing scheme expects to deliver 35.3 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to 36 Caribbean and Latin American states from mid-February to the end of June, the World Health Organization’s regional office said. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said the Americas region needed to immunise about 500 million people to control the pandemic. It said WHO would complete its review in a few days of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use listing (EUL). “The number of doses and delivery schedule are still subject to EUL and manufacturing production capacity,” PAHO said, adding that supply deals also had to be agreed with producers. Of the 36 nations receiving AstraZeneca’s shot, it said four countries, namely Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador and Peru, would also receive a total of 377,910 doses of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine from mid-February.
1st Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Australia will have enough Covid-19 vaccine to cover its population 'several times over', Scott Morrison says

Australia will spend more than $2 billion (A$1.9b) on equipping hospitals and other health centres to administer coronavirus vaccines that will see 26 million Australians vaccinated by the end of the year in one of the country's largest-ever logistical exercises. Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the funding commitment during a major speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday. “Our aim is to give Australians the opportunity to be vaccinated by October of this year, commencing in just a few weeks’ time.”
1st Feb 2021 - Stuff.co.nz

Pakistan receives first COVID vaccine shipment from China

Pakistan has received its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with China donating half a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to the country, the health minister says. A Pakistani military aircraft carrying the shipment landed in the Pakistani capital Islamabad early on Monday, Dr Faisal Sultan said. “Praise be to Allah, the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine has arrived! Grateful to China and everyone who made this happen,” he said. Video footage showed a forklift unloading boxes of the vaccine from a military transport plane. Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company, has developed one of two major Chinese vaccines to have been rolled out around the globe, alongside Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine. Phase three trials for the Chinese CanSino vaccine are also ongoing in Pakistan, which granted emergency use authorisation for the Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines last month.
1st Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Herd Immunity in Sight for India’s Capital?

The latest antibody testing data conducted in Delhi, India suggests that the nation's capital may be very close to attaining herd immunity against COVID-19. The Delhi government has been regularly conducting antibody tests since August 2020 to assess the spread of the virus in the capital region. In the fifth and the largest survey so far, more than 28,000 samples were tested across 11 districts in Delhi between Jan. 11 and Jan. 22. Preliminary results show that more than 60% of residents in one district in Delhi had antibodies against the coronavirus. The antibody rate in other districts more than 50%. If these findings hold true, it would imply that half of the city's 20 million people has been exposed to the virus and recovered.
1st Feb 2021 - WebMD

Why can't Ireland be more like New Zealand on Covid?

For the first time, how to confront the threat posed by Covid-19 has become political. On one side are the government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), pursuing a policy of suppressing the virus through intermittent lockdowns. On the opposing side is a “zero Covid” movement, initially led by scientists but now backed by several opposition parties, which wants much stricter controls to emulate the example of New Zealand and rid Ireland of the coronavirus. The most prominent advocate of zero Covid has been the Independent Scientific Advisory Group (Isag), a collective of scientists from both sides of the border. In order to eliminate community transmission, it suggests closing borders, imposing a mandatory 14-day quarantine on any new arrivals, and then rigorously tracking
31st Jan 2021 - The Times


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Philippines to Receive 5.6 Million Vaccine Doses This Quarter

The Philippine government said at least 5.6 million coronavirus vaccine doses produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca Plc are expected to arrive in the country within the first quarter. The country will receive a total of 9.4 million doses from the two pharmaceutical makers by the second quarter, it said in an emailed statement Sunday, citing a letter from Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative.
1st Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

World Bank Pledges US$12 Billion For Africa's Vaccine Purchase - OpEd

The World Bank has expressed readiness to commit US$12 billion as concessional loans to assist African countries access foreign vaccines. During a virtual meeting on the Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Financing and Deployment Strategy, the World Bank informed that the emergency vaccine financing projects in Africa, including Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Mozambique, Tunisia, Eswatini and Cabo Verde. The funds are available now, and for most African countries, the financing would be on grant or highly concessional terms, adding, IFC is working to mobilize financing for vaccine production and therapeutics focused on developing countries.
1st Feb 2021 - Eurasia Review

EU offers UK ‘reassurances’ over vaccine supply after Irish border row

The EU has moved to assure Britain that vaccine exports into the country won’t be stopped by the bloc’s new trade restrictions, British Trade Secretary Liz Truss said. “We have received reassurance from the European Union that those contracts will not be disrupted,” Truss told Sky News on Sunday. “Vaccine protectionism is fundamentally problematic,” she later told BBC presenter Andrew Marr, reiterating that the U.K. government has “had reassurances about our contracted supply” coming from the EU.
31st Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Germany is already ordering vaccines for 2022, minister says

Germany is ordering vaccines for 2022 in case regular or booster doses are needed to keep the population immune against variants of COVID-19, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday, amid growing frustration in Europe at the slow pace of vaccination. Speaking at an online town hall of healthcare workers, Spahn defended the progress made on procuring and administering vaccines, saying 2.3 million of Germany’s 83 million people had already received a dose. European governments have faced criticism over supply and production bottlenecks as vaccine makers AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna have all announced cuts to delivery volumes just as they were expected to ramp up production
31st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Macron defends decision not to order third lockdown as third wave spreads

President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to hold off on a third lockdown on Saturday, telling the public he had faith in their ability to rein in COVID-19 with less severe curbs even as a third wave spreads and the vaccine rollout falters. From Sunday, France will close it borders to all but essential travel to and from countries outside the European Union, while people arriving from within the bloc will have to show a negative test. Large shopping malls will be shut and police patrols increased to enforce a 6 p.m. curfew. But Macron has stopped short of ordering a new daytime lockdown, saying he wants to see first if other measures will be enough to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
31st Jan 2021 - Reuters

EU rejects Astrazeneca’s compromise offer over Covid-19 vaccine

The European Union has rejected an offer from Astrazeneca of eight million more doses, with the European Commission chief insisting that the company honour its existing “binding contract”. Details of an intended compromise in the row between Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm and the bloc over a sudden cut to Covid vaccine supplies emerged today. An EU official said that the cuts, blamed on production problems at a Belgian plant, would mean only 31 million doses being delivered in the period to the end of March, a 60 per cent reduction. It is a major blow for the bloc’s 27 member countries, which are already lagging behind the vaccination campaigns in Israel, Britain and the United States.
30th Jan 2021 - The Times

Macron: AstraZeneca vaccine seems ‘quasi-ineffective’ on older people

French President Emmanual Macron said Friday the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine appeared to be "quasi-ineffective" on people older than 65 — just hours before the EU's drugs regulator approved it for use on all adults. "The real problem on AstraZeneca is that it doesn’t work the way we were expecting it to," Macron told a group of reporters, including POLITICO, in Paris. "We’re waiting for the EMA [European Medicines Agency] results, but today everything points to thinking it is quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older." Later in the day, the EMA gave the vaccine the green light. It said: "There are not yet enough results in older participants (over 55 years old) to provide a figure for how well the vaccine will work in this group. However, protection is expected, given that an immune response is seen in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines; as there is reliable information on safety in this population, EMA’s scientific experts considered that the vaccine can be used in older adults."
30th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Algeria starts COVID-19 vaccination drive with Russian shots

Algeria launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign Saturday in the city where the country s first COVID-19 case was confirmed in March. The North African nation is using Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine, and a 65-year-old retiree received the first shot at a hospital in Blida, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital, Algiers Health authorities were on hand for the event. “All measures have been taken to ensure a good rollout of the vaccination campaign on the national territory,” Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid said. Vaccines will get administered in all regions of the country starting Sunday with health care workers, elderly adults and other vulnerable populations.
30th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19: France closes borders to most non-EU travel

France has imposed new Covid-19 border restrictions, but has once again resisted a new nationwide lockdown. All but essential travel from outside the EU has been banned, while testing requirements on travellers from within the EU has been tightened. PM Jean Castex said France's night curfew would be more tightly enforced and large shopping centres would close. But the measures were seen as mild and favouring the economy. Some doctors fear they will not curb infections.
30th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Portugal curbs travel, extends lockdown in face of world's worst virus surge

Portugal extended a nationwide lockdown until mid-February and announced curbs on international travel on Thursday, as Prime Minister Antonio Costa accepted blame for the world’s worst coronavirus surge, with hospitals on the verge of being overrun. With a population of 10 million, Portugal reported a record 303 COVID-19 deaths and 16,432 new cases, and now has the world’s highest per capita seven-day averages of both new cases and deaths. “The number of deaths is growing at an unimaginable pace,” said Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as he addressed the nation in a prime-time speech. “The pressure is extreme...we need to act quickly and drastically.”
30th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca

Following the renewed request from the European Commission on 27 January 2021, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to publish the redacted contract signed between the two parties on 27 August 2020. The Commission welcomes the company's commitment towards more transparency in its participation in the rollout of the EU Vaccines Strategy. Transparency and accountability are important to help build the trust of European citizens and to make sure that they can rely on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines purchased at the EU level. The Commission hopes to be able to publish all contracts under the Advance Purchase Agreements in the near future.
30th Jan 2021 - EU News

EU regulators give nod to AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for emergency use

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for emergency use in European Union (EU) countries, which came with more details about efficacy, which is about 60%, with the vaccine showing good impact against severe disease. The approval shed more light on findings from phase 3 clinical trials in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa and comes amid a row between EU officials and the company over supply contracts, which followed an announcement from the company that its supply would be less than expected.
29th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Study finds that Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro carried out an ‘institutional strategy to spread the coronavirus’

The grimmest timeline in the history of public health in Brazil emerges from an investigation of directives issued by the government of President Jair Messias Bolsonaro relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a common effort undertaken since March 2020, the Center for Research and Studies in Public Health Law (CEPEDISA) of the Public Health College (FSP) of the University of São Paulo (USP) and Conectas Direitos Humanos, one of the most respected justice organizations of Latin America, have collected and scrutinized federal and state regulations relating to the novel coronavirus, producing a brief titled Rights in the Pandemic – Mapping and Analysis of the Legal Rules in Response to Covid-19 in Brazil. On January 21, they put out a special edition making a strong statement: “Our research has revealed the existence of an institutional strategy to spread the virus, promoted by the Brazilian government under the leadership of the President of the Republic.”
29th Jan 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Norway to gradually ease capital's COVID-19 lockdown from February 3

The Norwegian government will gradually loosen the capital region’s coronavirus lockdown, allowing some shops and recreational activities to reopen from Feb. 3 onwards, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Saturday. The outbreak of a more contagious variant of COVID-19, first identified in Britain, had prompted the introduction of stricter measures on Jan. 23, including the closure of all non-essential stores in and around Oslo for the first time in the pandemic. “Infections are going down continuously in Norway and we now have a better overview over the outbreak and spread,” Hoeie told a news conference.
29th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Covid-19: Schools in NI set to remain shut until 8 March

Most pupils in Northern Ireland will not return to school until Monday 8 March at the earliest, the Stormont Executive has agreed. First Minister Arlene Foster said the ongoing public health situation meant remote learning must continue. It may also be the case that only some year groups go back to school on 8 March, if a return then is possible. Mrs Foster said she recognised it would come as a "disappointment" for many parents and pupils. "The kitchen table is no substitute for the school desk," she said, giving details of the decision at a news conference in Dungannon. "It is also important though that we give people a clear view of what is happening so we thought it was important to indicate today that we would not be back before 5 March in schools."
28th Jan 2021 - BBC News

EU warns it could block vaccine exports, wields legal threat at drugmakers

Europe's fight to secure COVID-19 vaccine supplies intensified on Thursday when the European Union warned drug companies such as AstraZeneca that it would use all legal means or even block exports unless they agreed to deliver shots as promised. The EU, whose member states are far behind Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States in rolling out vaccines, is scrambling to get supplies just as the West's biggest drugmakers slow deliveries to the bloc due to production problems. As vaccination centres in Germany, France and Spain cancelled or delayed appointments, the EU publicly rebuked Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for failing to deliver and even asked if it could divert supplies from Britain.
28th Jan 2021 - MSN.com

After Government Falls, Italy Must Navigate Pandemic on ‘Cruise Control’

The Italian prime minister resigned on Tuesday and triggered the collapse of the government. This sort of thing happens all the time in Italy. But the return to a familiar state of political instability has never happened in the midst of a pandemic that has seared the country so deeply. After offering a terrible preview to the West of the misery wrought by the coronavirus, Italy is again an unfortunate vanguard. It is testing whether a country, even one well accustomed to governments that perennially dissolve and reform, can manage vaccine rollouts, national curfews, business restrictions and enormous economic bailouts during a full-blown political crisis.
28th Jan 2021 - The New York Times

France Inches Toward Tighter Curbs as Virus Variants Gain Ground

More dangerous variants of the coronavirus are becoming increasingly common in France, putting pressure on the hospital system and raising the likelihood the government will soon impose tighter curbs. Health authorities are finding more than 2,000 cases a day of new forms of the virus, up from “several hundred” at the start of January, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday, during a weekly update of the health situation. President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to give a national curfew, which runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., a chance to slow the virus’s spread but he’s coming under mounting pressure to impose another lockdown, the third since the crisis began about a year ago. “The tension on the hospitals is real,” Veran said. “The curfew doesn’t allow us to sufficiently stop the variant from developing, and if we follow the development curve of these variants, we could enter an English, Portuguese or Spanish scenario, and you’ve seen the damages that can cause.”
28th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

India will make more home-grown coronavirus vaccines available, Modi tells World Economic Forum

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country would release more locally made Covid-19 vaccines as New Delhi continues to save the lives of people in other countries by exporting medicines and vaccines. “So far only two made-in-India vaccines have been introduced, but in the future many more vaccines will be made available,” Modi said at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, adding India had fulfilled its global responsibilities by setting up infrastructure related to vaccination. Modi also said India will issue health identity cards to 1.3 billion citizens. The South Asian nation, one of the world’s biggest makers of medicines, is producing two vaccines – Covishield, licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and Covaxin, developed at home by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research.
28th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

Study ranks New Zealand Covid-19 response best, Brazil worst, US in bottom five

Brazil's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been ranked the world's worst, while New Zealand topped the class, according to research published by a leading Australian think tank on Thursday. Sydney's Lowy Institute assessed almost 100 countries on six criteria, including confirmed cases, Covid-19 deaths and testing metrics. "Collectively, these indicators point to how well or poorly countries have managed the pandemic," according to the report by the independent body. Aside from New Zealand – which has largely kept the virus at bay with border closures and "go early, go hard" lockdowns and testing regimes – Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Cyprus, Rwanda, Iceland, Australia, Latvia and Sri Lanka made the top 10 for their responses. In bottom place was Brazil, closely followed by Mexico, Colombia, Iran and the United States.
28th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24 English

Third lockdown is working as Covid R rate falls to 0.9

The number of coronavirus infections is falling across the country and the R rate could be as low as 0.9, a new study shows. The findings from the eighth round of Imperial College London’s React study indicates a drop in numbers last week, suggesting lockdown is starting to have an effect. But the research, which tested more than 167,600 volunteers in England between January 6 and 22, also shows Covid-19 cases remained high over this period, with one in 64 people infected. Scientists warned this number is still at the highest level recorded since May.
28th Jan 2021 - Metro

Germany will mobilize up to 50 billion eur more state aid for firms

Germany has the fiscal strength to mobilize further state aid of up to 50 billion euros ($60.5 billion) for companies affected by the second coronavirus lockdown, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Thursday in a speech in parliament. This comes on top of grants already paid out of roughly 80 billion euros, an additional 23 billion euros as part of the Kurzarbeit job protection scheme, and a multi-year stimulus programme worth 130 billion euros, Altmaier told lawmakers.
28th Jan 2021 - Reuters

EMA tightens rules for second vaccinations with the PfizerBiontech vaccine

The European Medicines Agency strongly recommends that you inject the second dose within three weeks. With a longer period between vaccinations, the effectiveness of the vaccine is uncertain as there is a lack of data available. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has tightened the guidelines for the use of the corona vaccine from the manufacturers Pfizer and Biontech. After that, the second dose must be injected within three weeks, according to the decision published on Thursday in Amsterdam. The experts had previously recommended that there should be "at least 21 days" between the first and second vaccination dose. The term three weeks is now clearly being used and it is not advisable to extend the period. Various countries, including the Netherlands, had decided not to inject the second dose of Pfizer until after about six weeks due to the lack of vaccines. The rationale was that it should allow more people to be vaccinated. But remember, full protection against corona infection is only achieved after vaccination with both doses. The EMA now emphatically points out that the effectiveness is not certain in the event of a longer break: "There are currently no clinical data on the effectiveness of the vaccine if it is not administered in the interval of the clinical trials." The EMA has now noted that more than 93 percent of subjects in the clinical trials received the second dose of the vaccine within 19 to 23 days after the first. Only on this basis was the effectiveness of the vaccine deemed to be around 95 percent.
28th Jan 2021 - Berliner-Zeitung


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German lockdown beginning to take effect, new CDU leader says

Germany’s coronavirus lockdown is starting to take effect, the new leader of the ruling Christian Democrats said on Wednesday, noting that the seven-day infection rate had fallen to 97.2 per 100,000 in his state of North Rhine Westphalia. “The current development is encouraging,” Armin Laschet, also state premier, told the regional parliament, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and regional leaders were working on a “sequence of steps for possible openings” after the current lockdown is due to end on Feb. 14. But he said there should be no hasty decisions. The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 13,202 to 2,161,279, data showed on Wednesday, down from a rise of 15,974 a week ago, although the reported death toll rose by 982 to 53,972.
27th Jan 2021 - Metro US

Spanish PM appoints new health minister amid worsening pandemic

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez appointed Regional Policy Minister Carolina Darias as the new health minister on Tuesday after her predecessor resigned to run in an election in a move criticised by the opposition amid rising COVID-19 infections. In her previous job, the 55-year-old lawyer-turned- politician from the Canary Islands helped coordinate Spain's response to the pandemic, overseeing weekly meetings of regional health chiefs. Spain's cumulative infections now total 2,629,817, while the death toll is at 56,799. Despite the two-week number of infections tripling over the past month to a record 893 cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday, Spain, unlike many European countries, has chosen not to impose a new nationwide lockdown after the first one ended in May.
27th Jan 2021 - Majorca Daily Bulletin

France Holds Off On New Lockdown, Worries About Unrest Risk

The French government is delaying an agonizing decision to lock down the country once more, mulling options to slow new variants of Covid-19 as the current curfew is considered insufficient. President Emmanuel Macron “has asked for additional analysis” on the spread of the virus before deciding on any new restrictions. Macron is under pressure to shut down the economy for the third time in less than a year, as doctors and researchers raise the alarm about mutations of the coronavirus spreading through the country. Yet with a presidential race coming up next year, the French leader also has to navigate criticism of his handling of the crisis, including a slow start to the vaccination campaign. And while surging U.K. cases and deaths demonstrate the perils of the new virus variants, riots in the Netherlands against a government curfew show the risks of tighter measures.
27th Jan 2021 - MSN.com

Cyprus eases second virus lockdown

Cyprus announced Wednesday a cautious easing from February 1 of its national lockdown following a decline in the spread of Covid-19 infections that peaked after Christmas. The Mediterranean island went into lockdown on January 10 for the second time since last March after daily cases hit a record 907 on December 29. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the government has been relying on testing, restrictions and vaccinations to keep the pandemic in check.
27th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Boris Johnson extends England's coronavirus lockdown into March

England's coronavirus lockdown is set to be extended for at least three more weeks, with schools not reopening until the second week of March at the earliest, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. Johnson told the House of Commons there was "not enough data" currently available to announce the end of restrictions in the country, but said the government would publish a review of restrictions on February 22, before potentially reopening schools from the week of March 8. He said it would "not be possible" to reopen schools as early as the February half-term, due to the continuing high levels of infections in the country.
27th Jan 2021 - Business Insider India

Covid-19: Dutch justice minister vows prosecution of lockdown rioters

People arrested during three nights of rioting sparked by the Netherlands' new coronavirus curfew will face swift prosecution, the Dutch justice minister says, as the nation faces its worst civil unrest in years. Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said rioters would be quickly brought before the courts by public prosecutors and will face possible prison terms if convicted.
27th Jan 2021 - Stuff.co.nz

New Zealand borders to stay closed until citizens are 'vaccinated and protected'

Jacinda Ardern has said New Zealand and “the world” need to return to some semblance of normality before she opens the country’s borders to foreign nationals. The prime minister shut the border in mid-March and said on Tuesday she would not open it again until New Zealanders were “vaccinated and protected” – a process that will not start for the general population until the middle of this year. Ardern also cast doubt on the prospects for a travel bubble with Australia in the near future, and said she was “disappointed” with the Australian government’s decision to suspend quarantine-free access for New Zealanders for three days in the light of the case of community transition in Northland.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Ireland plans to exit lockdown 'very slowly' after March 5 - deputy PM

Ireland is set to extend a shutdown of the economy until March 5 and will ease restrictions very gradually similar to its exit from an initial lockdown last year if it can suppress COVID-19 again, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Monday. COVID-19 cases have begun to fall sharply in Ireland after exploding at the fastest rate in Europe at the turn of the year, fuelled by a four-week relaxation of restrictions and increasing prevalence of a new, more transmissible variant first detected in England. But with 766 COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people still recorded in the past 14 days, Varadkar and senior ministers will advise the Cabinet on Tuesday to keep most shops, building sites and all hospitality closed until March 5.
27th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK plans tough new border measures to combat coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated on Wednesday the COVID-19 lockdown in England would last until March 8 when schools could start to reopen as the government announced new measures to clamp down on travel to and from Britain. A highly contagious new variant of the virus, which emerged in southeast England at the end of last year, has led to a soaring number of infections across Britain with cases and deaths reaching record levels. On Tuesday, Britain’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000, the first European state to reach that figure, leading to questions about Johnson’s handling of a crisis that has also battered the economy.
27th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Cyprus to ease lockdown measures gradually after fall in COVID cases

Cyprus announced on Wednesday a staggered easing of lockdown measures following a fall in the number of COVID-19 infections, including the reopening of primary schools and shopping malls on Feb. 8. The island has been in a strict lockdown since Jan. 10 after a spike in COVID-19 cases and the detection of a more contagious variant of the virus first identified in Britain. Bans on large gatherings and the closure of shopping centres and restaurants had already been announced in December.
27th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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White House expected to tell governors they will get more coronavirus vaccine doses starting next week

The Biden administration said Tuesday it will seek to buy another 200 million doses of the two coronavirus vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use in the United States. The purchases would increase available supply by 50 percent, bringing the total to 600 million doses by this summer. Because both products — one developed by Pfizer and German company BioNTech and the other by Moderna — are two-dose regimens, that would be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million people. An estimated 260 million people in the United States are currently considered eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, though Pfizer and Moderna have initiated trials for children as young as 12, the results of which could expand the pool
26th Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

Davos highlights: Merkel appeals for international co-operation to overcome Covid-19

European leaders on Tuesday urged greater international co-operation as they reflected on the pandemic and signalled hopes for Joe Biden’s administration to extend its early efforts to re-engage in multilateral forums. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the coronavirus pandemic has been the “hour of multilateralism”, as she used her speech to plead for more international collaboration to defeat the virus. “We must choose the multilateral approach,” she said on Tuesday, adding that isolation was not the solution and urging for coronavirus vaccines to be distributed fairly to poorer countries. Ms Merkel also said the pandemic had highlighted the importance of international agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Paris climate accord.
26th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Coronavirus: Vaccine supply fears grow amid EU export threat

The EU has warned Covid vaccine producers they must deliver agreed supplies, amid fears reductions could seriously hamper its inoculation drive. AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech have both said production problems mean they cannot supply the expected numbers. The EU warned it could restrict exports of vaccines made in the bloc, with Germany's health minister demanding "fair distribution". The UK's vaccine minister warned of "the dead end of vaccine nationalism". AstraZeneca is mainly produced in the UK, while the UK's supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine come from the company's Belgian plant.
26th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Angela Merkel admits Covid highlighted shortcomings in Germany: ‘The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted significant shortcomings in her country as she told the World Economic Forum on Tuesday that it has underlined the need for international cooperation on issues such as vaccines. Germany had a relatively successful first phase of the pandemic, but saw infections shoot up during the winter months and recently passed the threshold of 50,000 deaths, Europe’s fifth-highest toll. A lengthy second lockdown has slowly brought down the number of new cases in recent weeks.
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Italy’s Prime Minister Conte to Resign Amid Struggle Against Covid-19 and Recession

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is set to resign on Tuesday, his office said, as Europe’s underlying problems of economic stagnation and political fragmentation start to reassert themselves amid the gruelling pandemic. The fall of Italy’s government, in office for just 17 months, is a symptom of the continuing fissures in Italian and European politics. Established and insurgent parties are struggling over Europe’s future, stable majorities are often elusive and leaders are searching for ways to overcome long-term economic underperformance—nowhere more so than in Italy. Rome’s latest political breakdown is likely to cause concern in the capitals of Europe’s stronger economies, such as Germany, which last year agreed to underwrite a massive European Union investment plan for economic recovery from the coronavirus.
26th Jan 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong places residents of 12 buildings under sudden Covid-19 lockdown

Metal barriers blocked streets, police addressed people through loudspeakers, and some residents in the Hong Kong area of Yau Ma Tei faced a night sealed off from the rest of the city, after an “ambush-style” Covid-19 lockdown on Tuesday. People living in blocks numbered 9-27 on Pitt Street, and Shun Fung Building on 3 Tung On Street, were taken by surprise, with the government acting at the last minute to avoid giving residents advance warning through leaks in the media. The lockdown, which began at 7pm, was expected to end at 6am on Wednesday, and those in the area had been told to stay inside until they had been tested for Covid-19. But officers also said people should be prepared to miss work, because they were unsure of whether testing would finish on time.
26th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

New Zealand's borders may stay shut for most of the year as Covid-19 rages on, PM Ardern says

New Zealand's borders will remain closed for most of this year as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, but the country will pursue travel arrangements with neighbouring Australia and other Pacific nations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday. Medical authorities, meanwhile, may approve a Covid-19 vaccine as early as next week, Ardern said, as pressure mounts for a start to vaccinations after the country confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus in the community in months. "Given the risks in the world around us and the uncertainty of the global rollout of the vaccine, we can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this year," Ardern said
26th Jan 2021 - MSN.com

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar confirms lockdown extension plans to March as he rules out zero Covid approach

In Ireland, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said that the Government plans to keep full lockdown restrictions in place until March 5. Mr Varadkar said that the harsh restrictions are set to remain in place for another six weeks should Cabinet agree on the measures which would be in line with measures in place in Northern Ireland. The Tanaiste also said that the Government was looking at a phased reopening of schools in February however he hinted that it would depend on whether cases numbers were low enough.
26th Jan 2021 - Irish Mirror

U.S. will have enough Covid-19 vaccines for 300 million Americans by end of summer, Biden says

President Biden plans to purchase another 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which should give the U.S. enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of summer 2021, the administration announced in a press release Tuesday. The Biden administration will also increase the number of vaccines being shipped weekly to states from 8.6 million to 10 million. The move comes less than a week after the Biden administration released a sweeping national plan to revamp the coronavirus vaccine effort. That plan foreshadowed a number of the changes announced Tuesday, including purchasing more vaccines from vaccine manufacturers.
26th Jan 2021 - Stat News

Coronavirus: AstraZeneca defends EU vaccine rollout plan

The head of AstraZeneca has defended its rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the EU, amid tension with member states over delays in supply. Pascal Soriot told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that his team was working "24/7 to fix the very many issues of production of the vaccine". He said production was "basically two months behind where we wanted to be". He also said the EU's late decision to sign contracts had given limited time to sort out hiccups with supply. Mr Soriot, chief executive of the UK-Swedish multinational, said a contract with the UK had been signed three months before the one with the EU, giving more time for glitches to be ironed out.
26th Jan 2021 - BBC News


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jan 2021

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Coronavirus in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon reveals almost half of over 80s have been vaccinated against Covid-19

Speaking at her daily press briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said 46 per cent of all over 80s had been given a jab since the start of the vaccine rollout. At the same time, she revealed that the Scottish Government would publish more detailed data on its immunization effort, including breakdowns of the number of people who have been vaccinated in each age and risk category.
25th Jan 2021 - The Scotsman

Australia approves Pfizer vaccine amid concerns over global supply of Oxford jab

Australia became one of the first countries in the world to complete a comprehensive process to approve the rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine after AstraZeneca announced a delay in its initial global supply. The inoculation drive is expected to start in late February with a target of 80,000 doses per week initially, health minister Greg Hunt told reporters. The vaccine has been approved for people aged 16 years and above and would be given in two doses to each recipient. The country approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine after AstraZeneca suggested to the Australian government that it is experiencing a significant “supply shock”.
25th Jan 2021 - The Independent

German health minister calls for coronavirus vaccine exports to be authorized by EU

The export of coronavirus vaccines should be authorized at the EU level before leaving the bloc, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday. “As the EU, we must be able to know whether and which vaccines are being exported from the EU,” said Spahn in a statement. “This is the only way we can understand whether our EU contracts with manufacturers are being served fairly.” The EU will be taking up the call for registration of exports, according to Reuters, quoting an official who stated that a transparency register would be created and come into force in the coming days.
25th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

California to reportedly lift Covid stay-at-home orders on Monday

California lifted its stay-at-home order statewide Monday after four-week projections showed intensive care unit capacity to be above 15% in beleaguered regions for the first time in weeks. “Today we can lay claim to starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to case numbers,” said the California governor Gavin Newsom during a press briefing on Monday. Monday’s change moves counties back to a tiered system of reopening, with most regions across the state expected to move into the most restrictive tier. It lifts an evening curfew and, in many areas, will allow restaurants and churches to resume outdoor operations and hair and nail salons to reopen. Local officials still could choose to impose stricter rules.
25th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

France to decide on possible 3rd lockdown amid rise in new Covid-19 variants cases

The French government is considering whether or not to impose a third national lockdown. France is now under a 6pm curfew but coronavirus cases have still continued to rise. A final decision on that move is said to be announced on Wednesday and depending on the effects of this tightened curfew. But just how could this new lockdown look like: a very strict one like in March 2020, or rather a loosened up version like in November 2020?
25th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

The Truth About North Korea's Ultra-Lockdown Against Covid-19

Kim Jong-un acted quickly. On January 22, 2020, North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia to stop a new, mysterious virus from spreading into the country. At the time, what we now know as Covid-19 had killed just nine people and infected 400 others. More than a year later, the hermit kingdom’s border remains sealed tight shut. North Korea’s response to the pandemic has been one of the most extreme and paranoid in the world, experts say. The lockdowns and quarantines it imposed have been strict, while border restrictions have put a halt to fishing and the smuggling of goods into the country. At the same time, the nation’s state media and propaganda apparatus has pumped out messages warning citizens of the dangers of Covid-19 and praising the country’s “flawless” approach to the pandemic.
25th Jan 2021 - Wired

Lebanon's Coronavirus lockdown: 'We can't leave our homes day or night'

People in Lebanon are living under one of the world's strictest lockdowns. Under the round-the-clock curfew, citizens who are not "essential workers" have been barred from leaving their homes since 14 January. Here residents in the capital, Beirut, describe what it's like.
25th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Norway widens capital region's lockdown to combat pandemic

The Norwegian government will widen the capital region’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday onwards, increasing the number of affected municipalities to 25 from the 10 that were initially included, health minister Bent Hoeie said on Sunday. Oslo and nine neighbouring municipalities imposed some of their toughest lockdown measures yet on Saturday after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain, closing all non-essential stores.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Israel bans international flights to curb coronavirus spread

Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week, the government announced on Sunday, as protesters in some ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities clashed with police over coronavirus lockdown measures. Clashes broke out between ultra-Orthodox protesters in the city of Bnei Brak and police forces who came to enforce the lockdown. One police officer, feeling his life was in danger, fired in the air to repel the crowds, police said. Smaller confrontations with ultra-Orthodox protesters broke out in several other towns, police said. The ban on flights will come into force from Monday at 2200 GMT and last until the end of January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Hong Kong lifts lockdown in Kowloon district after testing 7,000 people

The Hong Kong government lifted a lockdown in an area of Kowloon district in the early hours of Monday after testing about 7,000 people for coronavirus to curb an outbreak in the densely populated area. The government set up 51 temporary testing stations on Saturday and found 13 confirmed cases in the restricted area that is home to many ageing, subdivided flats in which the disease could spread more quickly. “Businesses in the area have been hit hard and brought to a standstill,” the government said in a statement. “The government hopes this temporary inconvenience will completely cut the local transmission chains in the district and ease residents’ worries and fear, so that they will regain confidence in resuming social and business activities in the area, and return to a normal life.”
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Ukraine completes tough COVID lockdown with optimistic expectations

Ukraine reopens schools, restaurants and gyms on Monday, ending a tough lockdown introduced on Jan. 8 to prevent a new wave of coronavirus infections, Ukrainian authorities said. The number of new cases of coronavirus infection in Ukraine has significantly decreased from 6,000 to 9,000 cases a day at the beginning of January to 2,516 new cases on January 25, the fewest since early September. “Such statistics, which indicate the stabilisation of the situation, the improvement of the situation could be obtained only thanks to you, Ukrainians,” health minister Maksym Stepanov told a televised briefing.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK extends councils' lockdown powers until July 17, Telegraph says

The British government has quietly extended coronavirus lockdown laws to give local councils in England the power to close pubs, restaurants, shops and public spaces until July 17, the Telegraph reported on Saturday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the government could not consider easing lockdown restrictions with infection rates at their current high levels, and until it is confident the vaccination programme is working. The changes to the regulation governing coronavirus restrictions were made as part of a review of the third lockdown earlier this month by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the Telegraph said.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Risk of 'vaccine-busting' coronavirus variants prompt tougher UK quarantine - Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was looking at toughening border quarantine rules because of the risk of “vaccine-busting” new coronavirus variants. New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are opening up the prospect of a much longer battle against the pathogen than previously thought. Scientists fear the new variants may be more deadly, and that vaccines may be less effective against them. “We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine-busting variant coming in - we’ve got to be able to keep that under control,” Johnson told reporters at a vaccination centre. “We want to make sure that we protect our population, protect this country against reinfection from abroad,” Johnson said. “We need a solution.”
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

EU urges AstraZeneca to explain vaccine delay

The European Commission has issued a strongly worded statement demanding that the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca spells out what Covid-19 vaccine doses it has produced and to whom they have been delivered, as the controversy over the disruption to vaccine supplies deepens. A statement by the EU Health Commissioner appears to suggest that the Commission believes that vaccine doses produced by AstraZeneca that were destined for EU member states may have gone elsewhere. Stella Kyriakides said: "The EU wants to know exactly which doses have been produced whereby AstraZeneca so far, and if, or to whom, they have been delivered."
25th Jan 2021 - RTE.ie


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jan 2021

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Italy to take legal action on COVID vaccine delays to get doses

Italy will take legal action and step up pressure in Brussels against Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines with a view to securing agreed supplies, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday. The aim was to get the companies to meet the vaccine volumes they had promised and not to seek compensation, Di Maio said on RAI state television. “This is a European contract that Pfizer and AstraZeneca are not respecting and so for this reason we will take legal action... We are working so our vaccine plan programme does not change,” he said.
24th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus vaccine delays halt Pfizer jabs in parts of Europe

Vaccinations in parts of Europe are being held up and in some cases halted because of a cut in deliveries of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. Germany's most populous state and several regions in Italy have suspended first jabs, while vaccinations for medics in Madrid have been stopped too. The US pharmaceutical firm has had to cut deliveries temporarily while cases in many European countries surge. Germany has reached 50,000 Covid deaths and Spain has seen record infections. Italy and Poland have threatened to take legal action in response to the reduction in vaccines. Pfizer said last week it was delaying shipments for the next few weeks because of work to increase capacity at its Belgian processing plant. The EU has ordered 600 million doses from Pfizer and has also authorised the Moderna vaccine.
23rd Jan 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: China orders millions in Beijing to get tested after three new cases

Millions of people in Beijing are being tested for COVID-19 after the Chinese capital recorded three new cases on Friday. Provinces around the country have also been ordered to prepare mass quarantine facilities. Mainland China has a current total of 1,960 officially confirmed cases, but the government is going to extraordinary lengths to stop limited outbreaks turning into a second wave.
23rd Jan 2021 - Sky News

Hong Kong orders thousands to stay home in 2-day COVID-19 lockdown

Thousands of Hong Kong residents were locked down Saturday (Jan 23) in an unprecedented move to contain a worsening outbreak in the city, authorities said. The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan in Kowloon from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test. Officials said they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district". The government said in a statement there are 70 buildings in the "restricted area".
23rd Jan 2021 - CNA

German minister warns against relaxing COVID-19 measures too soon

Germany’s coronavirus infection numbers are encouraging but remain too high, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, dampening expectations that restrictions to curb the spread of the virus could be lifted. Spahn told a news conference that new, more transmissible strains of the virus made it imperative to reduce case numbers further. “It’s like an antibiotic: if you stop too early, stop too soon, resistance can develop,” he said. “We don’t want to be accused of having relaxed too soon.” Germany, in lockdown since early November, reported over 800 deaths and almost 18,000 new infections on Friday. The 7-day incidence fell to 115 cases per 100,000, its lowest since Nov. 1.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Northern Ireland extends COVID-19 lockdown to March 5

The British region of Northern Ireland on Thursday extended its COVID-19 lockdown for an additional four weeks to March 5 and its deputy first minister said the measures might have to be extended again. Northern Ireland introduced a six-week lockdown on Dec. 26, closing schools, non-essential shops, bars and restaurants. “It’s an additional four weeks and there may well be something beyond that,” Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill told a press briefing.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Greece lifts more lockdown curbs, to open highschools on Feb. 1

Greece will loosen some lockdown restrictions on Feb. 1, letting high schools reopen for the first time in more than two months after signs that the spread of COVID-19 infections has stabilised, officials said on Friday. The country, in lockdown since early November due to a spike in infections, has seen pressure on its public health system ease with infections receding. It reopened primary schools and kindergartens earlier this month.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Norway's capital tightens lockdown to combat more contagious virus variant

Norway’s capital Oslo and nine neighboring municipalities imposed some of their toughest lockdown measures yet on Saturday after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain. Shopping centres and other non-essential stores will be closed from noon, for the first time in the pandemic, and will not reopen until Feb. 1 at the earliest, the government announced. Shops selling food will remain open, along with pharmacies and petrol stations. Organised sports activities will be halted, restaurants must close and schools must rely more on remote learning, while households have been asked not to have any visitors at home.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

EU hit by delay to Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine delivery

AstraZeneca has warned EU countries to expect significant shortfalls to early deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine, in a fresh blow to the rollout of the bloc’s immunisation programme, European officials have said. The EU was expecting 100m doses of the jab in the first quarter of the year. But people with knowledge of the discussions said the company may fail to deliver even half that amount, although they stressed that final figures had not been established. AstraZeneca insisted there was no “scheduled delay” to the start of shipments of its vaccines, but said “initial volumes” would “be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain”. “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the EU, as we continue to ramp up production volumes,” the company said, adding that the change in expected volumes did not affect the UK
23rd Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Britain to discuss tighter travel restrictions

British ministers are to discuss on Monday further tightening travel restrictions, the BBC reported on Saturday, adding that people arriving in the country could be required to quarantine in hotels. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a news conference on Friday that the UK may need to implement further measures to protect its borders from new variants of COVID-19. Britain’s current restrictions ban most international travel while new rules introduced earlier in January require a negative coronavirus test before departure for most people arriving, as well as a period of quarantine.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Why did the world's pandemic warning system fail when COVID hit?

The World Health Organization (WHO) sounded its highest alarm on 30 January 2020 — a declaration called a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, or PHEIC, signalling that a pandemic might be imminent. Few countries heeded the WHO’s call for testing, tracing and social distancing to curb the coronavirus. By mid-March, it had spread around the world. Now, health officials and researchers are evaluating why the organization’s warning system failed and how to overhaul it. Many say the organization should have declared a PHEIC about a week earlier than it did. But the largest failing, researchers agree, is that so many countries ignored it. “The biggest issue to me is that for six to eight weeks after the PHEIC declaration, countries, except for in Asia, sat on their hands,” says Joanne Liu, a former president of Médecins Sans Frontiérs (also known as Doctors without Borders), who serves on an independent panel tasked with assessing and improving the WHO’s alarm system. World health officials are evaluating potential improvements to the system during the WHO's executive board meeting, being held 18–26 January. Talks will continue in advance of the annual World Health Assembly in May, when any changes would occur. Some of the proposals include modifying the PHEIC alarm to have colour-coded warning levels, and having countries sign on to a new treaty on preparing for pandemics.
23rd Jan 2021 - Nature.com

South Africa paying more than double EU price for Oxford vaccine

South Africa will have to buy doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine at a price nearly 2.5 times higher than most European countries, the country’s health ministry has said. The African continent’s worst virus-hit country has ordered at least 1.5m shots of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), expected in January and February. A senior health official on Thursday told AFP those doses would cost $5.25 (€4.32) each – nearly two and a half times the amount paid by most European countries. European Union members will pay $2.16 (€1.78) for AstraZeneca’s shots, according to information leaked by a Belgian minister on Twitter.
23rd Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Belgium sees large initial shortfall of AstraZeneca vaccine

Belgium will receive less than half the number of COVID-19 vaccines it had expected from AstraZeneca in the first quarter, the country’s vaccine taskforce said on Saturday. Belgium had been expecting 1.5 million doses of the vaccine, which has still to be approved, by March, but would instead get around 650,000 doses. Reuters reported on Friday that AstraZeneca had informed European Union officials it would cut deliveries of the vaccine by 60% to a total 31 million doses in the first quarter due to production problems. Belgium had been expecting 1.5 million doses of the vaccine, which has still to be approved, by March, but would instead get around 650,000 doses. Reuters reported on Friday that AstraZeneca had informed European Union officials it would cut deliveries of the vaccine by 60% to a total 31 million doses in the first quarter due to production problems. The EU has a deal to purchase at least 300 million doses from AstraZeneca, with an option for an additional 100 million. The EU drug regulator is due to decide on approving the vaccine on Jan. 29.
23rd Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Vaccines Turn Into Geopolitics in Europe’s Most Volatile Region

The coronavirus exposed lingering divisions in the Balkans, and now Europe’s most volatile region is once again cleaving along geopolitical and ethnic lines over efforts to get people vaccinated. The European Union has pledged to give six prospective members 70 million euros ($85 million) to buy Covid shots, but deliveries are facing delays. That’s empowered Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to leverage his links with China and traditional ally Russia into pledging vaccine donations to North Macedonia and to the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The 18 million people who live in the western Balkans have been severely hit by coronavirus, with parts of former Yugoslavia recording among the world’s highest per-capita death rates. The fallout is threatening efforts to resolve lingering border disputes and risks pushing the region further away from the EU’s orbit as Russia and China extend their reach. Western Europe was already failing a place that’s synonymous with hardship and war, according to Zijad Becirovic, director of the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies in Ljubljana. The U.S., meanwhile, has gradually loosened political ties with the region since intervening in Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts in the 1990s
22nd Jan 2021 - MSN - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jan 2021

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India allows commercial export of COVID-19 vaccines from Friday; first stop brazil, morocco

India has allowed commercial export of COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured in the country from Friday. Brazil and Morocco will be the first two countries that are getting the commercial contracted supplies of 20 lakh doses each with flights leaving at 4.15 am IST and 8 am IST, respectively on Friday. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had written Prime Minister Narendra Modi for COVID-19 vaccines. In a letter, he had said, "Brazilian government has launched the National Immunization Program against COVID-19" and "Among the vaccines selected by the Brazilian government, are those from the Indian company Bharat Biotech Internacional Limited (Covaxin) and AstraZeneca at the University of Oxford (Covishield), also produced by the Serum Institute of India."
21st Jan 2021 - India.com

US to join global coronavirus vaccine program

Dr. Anthony Fauci says U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday will order the United States to support projects to deploy COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to people in need around the world. Fauci also says the United States will cease reducing U.S. staff counts at the World Health Organization and will pay its financial obligations to it. Fauci, Biden’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, told the WHO’s executive board that the president will issue a directive Thursday that shows the United States’ intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world — whether in rich or poor countries. Fauci also said the United States would support the “ACT Accelerator” — an umbrella effort including COVAX that also focuses on distributing diagnostic tools and therapeutics for the coronavirus to countries around the world.
21st Jan 2021 - The Independent

Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start 'from scratch,' sources say

Newly sworn in President Joe Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration, sources tell CNN, posing a significant challenge for the new White House. The Biden administration has promised to try to turn the Covid-19 pandemic around and drastically speed up the pace of vaccinating Americans against the virus. But in the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration's Covid-related work told CNN one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy under former President Donald Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States. "There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch," one source said.
21st Jan 2021 - CNN

UK PM Johnson says to early to say when national lockdown will end

It is too early to say when the national COVID lockdown in England will end, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, adding that persistently high infection levels demonstrated how infectious a new variant was. “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions,” Johnson told broadcasters. “What we’re seeing in the ONS data, in the REACT survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas. There’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.”
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Merkel: Germany's tough COVID-19 lockdown beginning to pay off

Chancellor Angela Merkel called it encouraging at a press conference on Thursday that the COVID-19 surge in Germany was beginning to ease. "This shows that the tough cutbacks that people in Germany have had to endure for weeks are starting to pay off and it basically shows that the effort is worth it," she said. The number of daily COVID-19 infections was below the previous week's level and increased by 20,398 on Thursday, according to Robert Koch Institute
21st Jan 2021 - The Star

Spanish Government Refuses To Authorise Earlier Curfew Or Full Lockdown

The Spanish government once again stood firm on Wednesday in refusing to bow to the pressure being exerted by regional administrations to allow the start of the night-time curfew to be brought forward to 20.00 in an effort to bring coronavirus infection rates down, despite 15 of the 17 Autonomous Communities requesting that this modification be made to the conditions of the current national state of emergency.
21st Jan 2021 - Murcia Today

Lebanon extends total lockdown by two weeks

Lebanon has prolonged a total lockdown by two weeks to stem an unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases and protect its collapsing health sector. The strict restrictions include a round-the-clock curfew and limit grocery shopping to home deliveries. "The total lockdown is extended to February 8, 5 am," the Higher Defence Council, Lebanon's top security body, said in a statement.
21st Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out lockdown lasting to the summer amid claims he is willing to keep Covid curbs longer to make sure it is the last national squeeze of pandemic

Boris Johnson today refused to rule out the brutal lockdown lasting until the summer amid claims he is willing to keep curbs longer to ensure it is the last national squeeze. The PM insisted it is 'too early to say' whether the restrictions will stay in place for months longer - despite cases falling by more than a fifth on last week and hopes rising that the most vulnerable groups will be vaccinated by mid-February, with a record 366,919 jabs administered in 24 hours. Mr Johnson also delivered a stark message that the new coronavirus strain is 'much more contagious', repeating his plea for people to stay at home and obey the rules.
21st Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

China is back in emergency mode, racing to contain COVID surge before holiday

China is rushing to build a massive quarantine camp with more than 4,000 isolation suites in Hebei Province, a region just outside Beijing at the center of a resurgent coronavirus epidemic. Ahead of a holiday that normally sparks the biggest mass-movement of humans on the planet, authorities have put tens of millions of people under strict lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 a year after it first surfaced. The new isolation center spans more than 108 acres on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang city, the provincial capital of Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing. It will temporarily house close contacts and secondary contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients so they can be kept under medical observation for any signs of infection.
21st Jan 2021 - CBS News

Malaysia extends lockdown in capital and other states until February

Malaysia on Thursday extended restrictions on movement in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states until Feb. 4 as part of a lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus infections. The Health Ministry has confirmed that COVID-19 cases are accelerating within the community in many states, Security Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement. This week, the government placed six other states under a two-week lockdown. Essential sectors including plantations, manufacturing and construction are allowed to operate but state and international borders remain closed.
21st Jan 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Hungary gives initial approval for AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines

Hungary’s drug regulator has given initial approval for use of Britain’s AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said on Thursday, confirming media reports. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was travelling to Moscow for talks about the Sputnik V vaccine later on Thursday, Gergely Gulyas told a briefing. If he secures a shipment deal with Russia, Hungary would be the first European Union member to receive the Sputnik V shot, underlining Budapest’s rush to lift coronavirus lockdown measures in order to boost the economy, even though the EU’s medicines regulator has yet to green-light the Russian vaccine. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also not approved the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in Britain but a decision is expected on Jan. 29.
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Sweden extends pandemic curbs amid tentative signs of slowing outbreak

Sweden extended distance learning for high school students and told public employees to continue to work from home, renewing measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic despite signs that infections are beginning to slow. Sweden has avoided the kind of lockdown seen across much of Europe, but has gradually tightened restrictions after being hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections in autumn last year. Those measures seem to be bearing fruit with authorities cautiously optimistic that, in some parts of the country, the situation is improving. The government said it nevertheless needed to extend many of the measures aimed at social distancing.
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jan 2021

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PH to receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX Facility within 1st quarter of this year

The country is set to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility within the first quarter of this year, government officials said on Wednesday night. This was announced by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
20th Jan 2021 - Manila Bulletin

COVID-19: 'Real-world' analysis of coronavirus vaccine in Israel raises questions about UK strategy

The first real-world analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine suggests it is matching its performance in clinical trials, but raises serious questions about the UK's decision to delay the second dose. Scientists in Israel - which is leading the COVID-19 vaccination race - have told Sky News that they are "very hopeful" having studied preliminary data from 200,000 vaccinated people. But crucially they say their results do not show efficacy at a level close to that used by the UK to justify delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech jab.
20th Jan 2021 - Sky News

New CDC director to take over beleaguered agency amid worsening COVID-19 crisis

Dr. Rochelle Walensky will be tasked with reasserting the agency while the pandemic is in its deadliest phase yet and the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign is wracked by confusion and delays
20th Jan 2021 - The Globe and Mail

Outer Hebrides islands put into lockdown as Covid takes hold

About 1,000 islanders on Barra in the Outer Hebrides are taking a “robust and responsible” approach to being placed in full lockdown from midnight on Tuesday, as a coronavirus outbreak spreads to affect about 16% of the population. Having kept the virus off the 11-mile-long island since the pandemic began, there are now 45 positive tests with a further 140 individuals self-isolating. Although islanders were already observing a voluntary lockdown as the outbreak spread rapidly since taking hold in the second week of January, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that the islands of Barra and Vatersay, which are connected by a causeway, would go into tier 4, the highest level of Scotland’s five levels of Covid controls.
20th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Germany extends and tightens COVID lockdown

Germany's coronavirus restrictions will stay in place until the middle of February. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country's 16 states agreed that the recent drop in infection rates was not enough to ease the current measures.
20th Jan 2021 - Deutsche Welle

Spain headed toward de facto lockdown amid surge in coronavirus cases

The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is pushing Spain toward a de facto lockdown, that – while stopping short of the strict home confinement rules introduced last spring during the first wave – greatly restricts social activities and freedom of movement. In response to the rising number of coronavirus cases, Spanish regions have introduced tough new measures, such as the perimetral lockdowns of municipalities and the closure of all food and drink establishments. But there is now debate about whether or not the current state of alarm should be modified to allow regions to apply even stricter restrictions.
20th Jan 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Rwandan capital back under full coronavirus lockdown

Rwanda's capital Kigali was back under total lockdown on Tuesday after a surge in coronavirus cases in a country that has adopted some of Africa's toughest anti-Covid measures. President Paul Kagame's government announced the measures late Monday after a cabinet meeting, banning "unnecessary movements" in the capital. Rwanda imposed one of Africa's first total shutdowns in March 2020, and has maintained an evening curfew, changing the times and imposing curbs on transport as its outbreak fluctuated.
20th Jan 2021 - Times of India

S.Korea may secure additional COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax, Moon says

South Korea may secure additional coronavirus vaccines for 20 million people from U.S. drugmaker Novavax Inc, President Moon Jae-in said, according to a statement from the presidential office on Wednesday. Novavax entered into a development and supply agreement for its vaccine with South Korea's SK bioscience Co last year, according to a statement in August. Moon visited SK bioscience's work site on Wednesday and said that the agreement between Novavax and SK bioscience "raised the possibility of securing vaccines for an additional 20 million people," the statement said. That is in addition to the vaccines that the South Korean government has secured so far. The country has secured 106 million doses to allow for coverage of 56 million people, more than the 52 million residents of the country, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) director Jeong Eun-kyeong said earlier this month.
20th Jan 2021 - The Peninsula

Lockdown is imposed on five Beijing neighbourhoods, with 1.6 million people ordered to stay at home

Lockdown has been imposed on five Beijing neighbourhoods after two cases of the British Covid-19 variant were detected in the Chinese capital. The cases had 'no genetic correlation with previously reported local cases and imported cases in Beijing', the head of the Beijing health authority Pang Xinghuo told reporters, but are 'considered to be variants of the new coronavirus discovered in the UK.' The two cases of the UK variant were among seven new Covid-19 cases detected on Wednesday, with six found in the city's southern Daxang district alone.
20th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

South Africa's Ramaphosa scrambles for enough Covid-19 vaccines

The scramble by South Africa for Covid-19 vaccines is intensifying pressure on the government to square its plans for immunizing the country with reality. President Cyril Ramaphosa has sketched out a program to acquire and administer enough vaccines to immunize two-thirds of South African’s population of 58 million by the end of this year with the goal of achieving so-called herd immunity. But the plan suffers from a shortage of specifics and a surfeit of ambition, say some in the public health community, who have counseled the government to rethink its target and up its transparency.
20th Jan 2021 - Quartz

Covid unlikely to die out, says New Zealand health chief Ashley Bloomfield

Covid-19 is unlikely to ever die out, even with vaccination efforts, but it could become more transmissible and less deadly, New Zealand’s director general of health has warned. “If you think about influenza, which was first recorded in 1172 I think, in Europe … these viruses don’t tend to die out … They change over time and in fact what we are seeing with these new variants with the Covid-19 virus is that they tend become more transmissible and less deadly over time,” Dr Ashley Bloomfield said. However, Bloomfield said that vaccines would help humans develop immunity, adding to the natural immunity that people who have been infected will also develop. He also warned if some of the new variants of Covid-19 escape managed isolation and quarantine, the impact could be greater than it was last year.
20th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

China's capital steps up COVID-19 measures as outbreak persists

China’s capital Beijing said it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad from Dec. 10 and it shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks. The measures come amid what has become China’s most serious coronavirus outbreak since March 2020 ahead of Lunar New Year holiday season, when hundreds of millions of people travel, raising fears of another major COVID-19 wave that could bring the country back into a debilitating standstill. The National Health Commission said on Wednesday a total of 103 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 19, down from 118 a day earlier. Northeastern Jilin province reported 46 new infections, however, setting another record in daily cases, while Hebei province surrounding Beijing reported 19 new cases.
20th Jan 2021 - Reuters

EU and BioNTech/Pfizer clash over reduced vaccine deliveries

A decision by Pfizer and BioNTech to reduce the number of vaccine vials they send to European countries has forced health officials to slow vaccination plans, with at least one EU member state threatening legal action as tensions over limited supplies mount. The move by the manufacturers followed a ruling this month from the European Medicines Agency that six doses can be extracted from each BioNTech/Pfizer vial rather than five, after health professionals found there was often extra vaccine left over.
20th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Boris Johnson says UK ready to deploy tweaked vaccines

Boris Johnson on Wednesday declared Britain was ready to quickly deploy tweaked vaccines to combat new variants of coronavirus, as the number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK hit a record of 1,820. The prime minister said he was concerned about the risk posed by dangerous variants of the virus — as well as Britain, Brazil and South Africa have reported new strains — as he justified new border restrictions in the UK. Neil O’Brien, a Conservative MP, asked Mr Johnson at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons about “concerning data from South Africa” that the virus could mutate and thus “dodge the vaccines and reduce their efficacy”.
20th Jan 2021 - Financial Times


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jan 2021

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China's capital steps up COVID-19 measures as outbreak persists

China’s capital Beijing said on Wednesday it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad from Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks. The measures come amid what has become the country’s most severe COVID-19 outbreak since March 2020 ahead of the key Chinese Lunar New Year holiday season, when hundreds of millions travel, raising fears of another major COVID-19 wave that could bring the country back into a debilitating standstill. The National Health Commission said on Wednesday that a total of 103 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 19, down from 118 a day earlier. Northeastern Jilin province reported 46 new cases, however, setting another record in daily cases, while Hebei province surrounding Beijing reported 19 new cases.
20th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Covid-19 in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon extends lockdown to at least mid-February

Schools will remain closed to most pupils for at least another month after Nicola Sturgeon extended lockdown in Scotland. Cases of Covid-19 are stabilising but the first minister warned that any relaxation risks sending “the situation into reverse”. The first minister said that ministers had agreed to extend the current curbs — which came into force on December 26 and have since been tightened — until at least the middle of February.
19th Jan 2021 - The Times

Germany extends lockdown to Feb. 14 on fears of COVID variants, sources say

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany may need to consider border crossing curbs if other European countries do not act to halt the spread of the coronavirus, particularly its new, more transmissible variants. “We can do anything we like, but we will not succeed if others are not working in parallel,” Merkel told journalists on Tuesday, two days ahead of a videoconference of European leaders. “We need to make sure that everyone around us is doing the same. Otherwise we have to look at measures such as entry restrictions.”
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Outcry in Italy at call for more vaccines for rich regions

The idea that richer areas should get a bigger share of coronavirus vaccines sparked an outcry on Tuesday (19 January) in Italy, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. The proposal came from Letizia Moratti, the aristocrat wife of a late oil baron, who this month was appointed health chief of the northern Lombardy region, which includes Milan. Writing to the government coronavirus crisis commissioner, she said vaccines should be allocated to regions based not only on population density, but also on gross domestic product (GDP), local impact of the pandemic and levels of mobility. “It is not about giving more vaccines to richer regions… but in helping Lombardy’s recovery you would automatically help the recovery of the whole country,” she said in the letter, parts of which media published.
19th Jan 2021 - EURACTIV

Third wave hits Spain in record rise

Joe Biden’s team announced that he plans to extend travel restrictions barring people from much of Europe and Brazil from travelling to the US, shortly after President Trump said he would lift the restrictions on January 26. Mr Trump signed an order yesterday ending the ban, which he imposed early last year in response to the pandemic, after securing support from his coronavirus task force and public health officials.
19th Jan 2021 - The Times

Spain to extend COVID furlough scheme until May, PM says

Spain will extend its scheme supporting hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed due to COVID-19 until May, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday after the government, unions and business groups reached an agreement on the issue. The ERTE furlough scheme, which has benefitted millions of workers since the beginning of the pandemic, had been due to expire on Jan. 31 under a previous such agreement. As most of business restrictions were lifted during the past months following a nationwide lockdown, many furloughed workers returned to work though 755,000 were still on the state-supported furlough scheme in December.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

France sticks to Covid plans in race between vaccines and contagious variant

France’s government said Tuesday it would avoid the strictest lockdown measures despite gradually increasing Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions, preferring to bank on vaccinations. The spread of a more contagious variant of the new coronavirus seems to have prompted many to get the jab and there are now concerns over delays in delivery. Despite laboratory delays and reports of shortages and logistical problems in its vaccine campaign, France’s government said it would avoid toughening health restrictions even as case numbers and hospital admissions continued to increase. “We already took a tough decision last week to impose a 6pm curfew on the country as a whole,” health minister Olivier Véran told France Inter radio. “I cannot say we will impose a confinement but the circulation of the virus remains worrying.”
19th Jan 2021 - RFI

Portugal tightens Covid-19 lockdown amid record numbers of new cases, deaths

Stricter lockdown rules are being enacted in Portugal, the government announced Monday, as a surging Covid-19 pandemic sets grim records and pushes hospitals to the limit of their capacity. Prime Minister António Costa said too many people had taken advantage of exceptions included in the lockdown that began last Friday, with authorities reporting 70% of normal movement over the weekend. “We are going through the most serious phase of the pandemic” so far, Costa said, urging people to comply with the rules. “This is no time for finding loopholes in the law.”
19th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

China defends COVID-19 response after criticism by experts

China has defended its actions as “prompt and decisive” in containing the coronavirus outbreak during its early days, rebuking criticism made by an independent panel of experts over Beijing’s handling of the outbreak. “As the first country to sound the alarm against the pandemic, we took prompt and decisive measures even though we had incomplete information at the time,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said on Tuesday. Hua said Beijing imposed early measures – including the announcement of a hard lockdown on Wuhan weeks after the virus was detected – that “reduced infections and deaths”. Her comments came after the release of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response’s interim report that highlighted how China could have acted “more rapidly” against a virus that has now killed more than two million people worldwide. The panel was formed last year following a request by member countries of the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) to identify new information on the spread of COVID-19.
19th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Rwanda re-imposes strict lockdown in capital after COVID-19 cases surge

Rwanda has re-introduced tough lockdown measures in its capital Kigali after a surge in coronavirus cases. The government has also banned movement into and out of the city, except for essential services and for tourists, it said, citing a jump in the number of cases found in a given sample of tests, known as the positivity rate. “All employees, public and private, shall work from home, except for those providing essential services,” the government said in a statement.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia expands lockdown measures to most states as virus spreads

Malaysia on Tuesday said it would extend lockdown restrictions across most of the country as it grappled with a rise in coronavirus infections. Last week, capital Kuala Lumpur and six states went into a two-week lockdown. Essential sectors including manufacturing, plantations and construction were allowed to stay open, but a nationwide travel ban was implemented. Security minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Tuesday said the lockdown will also be imposed on six other states from Friday for two weeks. Only the eastern state of Sarawak will not see a full lockdown, though some restrictions are in place. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said the lockdown measures were necessary as the healthcare system was at a breaking point.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK still looking at mid-Feb for COVID lockdown review: minister

Britain’s government is still aiming to review COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in mid-February, Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis said on Tuesday. “When we put these current restrictions in place we said we would do a review in mid-February ... and that’s still the case,” Lewis told Sky News.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Africa's fears over Covid-19 vaccine shortage

One of Africa's top public health officials, virologist Dr John Nkengasong has spoken of his concern that countries in the continent will not be getting the vaccines they need. The director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention told BBC World News: "We are truly headed towards a moral catastrophe if this situation isn't addressed." When the pandemic first hit the world it was agreed everyone needed equitable and timely access to vaccines, Dr Nkengasong said. Now that the vaccines are here it was time to translate those words into action he said, explaining that the second wave of the virus in the continent was much more aggressive and devastating.
19th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Why South Africa has yet to roll out vaccines

More than a third of all Covid-19 cases in Africa have been in South Africa and numbers are surging with the emergence of a new variant of the virus. But unlike some other badly hit countries in the world, South Africa is yet to start its vaccination programme.
19th Jan 2021 - BBC News


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Jan 2021

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World on the brink of 'catastrophic moral failure' due to unfair vaccine rollouts, WHO chief says

The head of the World Health Organization said the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines is at “serious risk.” WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was on the brink of a “catastrophic moral failure.”
18th Jan 2021 - CNBC

Covid: Brazil approves and rolls out AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines

A nurse has received Brazil's first Covid-19 vaccine dose after regulators gave emergency approval to two jabs. Regulator Anvisa gave the green light to vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac, doses of which will be distributed among all 27 states. Brazil has the world's second-highest death toll from Covid-19 and cases are rising again across the country. President Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for his handling of the pandemic. The far-right leader has played down the pandemic from the beginning, promoted an unproven treatment for the disease and gone against measures including mask-wearing and social distancing.
18th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Israel trades Pfizer doses for medical data in vaccine blitz

After sprinting ahead in the race to inoculate its population against the coronavirus, Israel has struck a deal with Pfizer promising to share vast troves of medical data with the international drug giant in exchange for the continued flow of its hard-to-get vaccine. Proponents say the deal could allow Israel to become the first country to vaccinate most of its population, while providing valuable research that could help the rest of the world. But critics say the deal raises major ethical concerns, including possible privacy violations and a deepening of the global divide that enables wealthy countries to stockpile vaccines as poorer populations, including Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, have to wait longer to be inoculated.
18th Jan 2021 - The Independent

England extends Covid vaccines to over-70s

People aged over 70 will start receiving invitations for their first Covid-19 vaccination from Monday, along with the clinically extremely vulnerable, as the programme enters a new phase. The NHS has concentrated over the past month on giving jabs to its highest priority categories — the over-80s, frontline health staff and care home residents and workers. But with 3.8m vaccinations administered, ministers have given sites approval to offer injections to the next two “cohorts” of over-70s and “clinically extremely vulnerable” people with conditions such as cancer, Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis or severe asthma.
18th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Almost All Of Italy Goes Into Lockdown

Italy is heading into a tough period of restrictions on Sunday, January 17, as coronavirus cases in the country continue to skyrocket. There is currently an average of 500 deaths per day in Italy, with 16,310 new Covid infections registered on Saturday according to the Ministry of Health. The death toll in the country stands at 81,800. As of Sunday, twelve Italian regions will be in the ‘orange zone’, meaning that all bars and restaurants will be closed and people won’t be allowed to leave the municipality. Lombardy, Sicily and Alto Adige are in the ‘red zone’ and will be plunged into total confinement for three weeks
18th Jan 2021 - Euro Weekly News

Spain’s central, regional officials clash over coronavirus curfew times

Spain’s central government will appeal a decision by regional authorities in Castilla y León to impose an 8pm curfew in their territory in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The regional government announced the new starting time on Friday, but central authorities say that the curfew may begin at 10pm at the earliest, based on the terms of the state of alarm approved by parliament in late October and due to expire in May. This legal framework underpins the restrictions used to contain the coronavirus, including limits on freedom of movement.
18th Jan 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

COVID deaths cross 4000 as ministers set to debate extending lockdown

Israel on Monday crossed a grim milestone, as Health Ministry confirmed the death toll from the coronavirus stood at 4,005. Israel has recorded 551,689 coronavirus cases since the pandemic erupted in March 2020. There are currently 1,130 patients in serious condition, while 467,790 Israelis have recovered from the disease. Some 2,116,257 Israelis have vaccinanted against COVID-19 over the past month, and 309,065 have already received the second dose. Coinciding with the launch of the vaccination campaign has been a surge in coronavirus cases, with some 9,000 daily new infections diagnosed in recent days. The cabinet is set to decide on Wednesday whether to extend the lockdown – Israel's third – by at least another week. The Health Ministry is pushing to extend it until the end of January, but Blue and White and the ultra-Orthodox parties vehemently oppose the move.
18th Jan 2021 - Israel Hayom

China's economy expands at faster rate than before coronavirus

China’s gross domestic product expanded 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, beating forecasts and making the country one of the few in the world to register positive growth for the year. Year-on-year GDP growth for the final quarter beat expectations, according to official data released on Monday, with the Chinese economy expanding 2.3 per cent over the course of the full year as industrial production continued to drive the country’s recovery. The new data underlined a rapid turnround in the world’s second-largest economy, which declined in early 2020 for the first time in more than four decades after authorities imposed an extensive lockdown to stem the pandemic’s initial outbreak.
18th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Virus resurgence expands lockdown in China

Amid a rise in locally transmitted coronavirus infections in China, at least 11 regions in three provinces have been put under lockdown to stem the spread of the virus as of Monday, according to local reports. According to a statement by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), 109 infections were reported on Sunday which included 93 indigenous cases -- 54 in the Hebei province, 30 in Jilin, seven in Heilongjiang, and two in Beijing. China, where the first cases of the virus were reported in December 2019, is witnessing a resurgence of the virus since early this month, mostly in Hebei. The country has reported 88,336 coronavirus cases, including 4,635 deaths, so far
18th Jan 2021 - Anadolu Agency

Malaysia to roll out additional $3.7 billion stimulus measures - PM

Malaysia will introduce 15 billion ringgit ($3.71 billion) worth of additional stimulus measures to support its pandemic-hit economy and fight COVID-19, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday. Last week, Malaysia declared a state of emergency and imposed a nationwide travel ban and lockdowns in the capital and five states to help curb the spread of the outbreak, which has been worsening in recent days in the Southeast Asian country.
18th Jan 2021 - Reuters

New York governor asks Pfizer to directly sell COVID-19 vaccine doses

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla on Monday if the state could buy COVID-19 vaccine doses directly from the U.S. drugmaker. Pfizer, however, told Reuters that such a proposal would first require approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With hospitalizations and deaths increasing across the country this winter, we are in a footrace with the virus, and we will lose unless we dramatically increase the number of doses getting to New Yorkers”, Cuomo said in a letter to Pfizer’s CEO.
18th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Independent pandemic review panel critical of China, WHO delays

An independent panel said on Monday that Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January to curb the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until Jan. 30. The experts reviewing the global handling of the pandemic, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for reforms to the Geneva-based United Nations agency.Their interim report was published hours after the WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, said that global deaths from COVID-19 were expected to top 100,000 per week “very soon”. “What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” the report said, referring to the initial outbreak of the new disease in the central city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.
18th Jan 2021 - Reuters

WHO: just 25 Covid vaccine doses administered in low-income countries

The world is on the edge of a “catastrophic moral failure” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 25 doses administered across all poor countries compared with 39m in wealthier ones, the head of the World Health Organization has said. It was the sharpest warning so far from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dangers of vaccine hoarding since inoculations started being administered in 49 mostly high-income countries. Guinea is the sole low-income country to have delivered any shots so far, last week providing doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to a mere 25 people, including its president. Tedros told an annual meeting of the WHO’s executive board on Monday that it was wrong to see people at low risk in wealthy countries being vaccinated while most of the world still did not have access to the jabs.
18th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

French firm 'days away' from producing fourth Covid vaccine in UK

A French-Austrian drug company is gearing up to start work in Britain next week on a new Covid-19 vaccine, it has been claimed. The UK is set to receive 60 million doses of drugmaker Valneva’s candidate – making it the country’s second largest coronavirus vaccine supply after Britain’s own Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. In September, Valneva confirmed its partnership with the UK Government, which invests in the firm’s major manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland, to support the scale up and development of the jab. Valneva is now said to be ‘days away’ from starting manufacturing efforts in the UK of its two-dose jab, called VLA2001, according to the company’s boss.
17th Jan 2021 - Metro.co.uk


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Jan 2021

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Amid COVID-19 surge, South Africa delays reopening schools

Faced with a rapid resurgence of COVID-19 overwhelming the country’s hospitals and driven by a more infectious variant of the virus South Africa has delayed reopening its schools. The variant is having far-reaching consequences for Africa’s most developed nation as several countries trying to prevent its spread have stopped or reduced flights with South Africa. South Africa has the highest prevalence of COVID-19 in Africa with a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million confirmed cases, including 36,851 deaths.
17th Jan 2021 - The Independent

UK hopes to ease lockdown from March: minister

Britain’s government hopes to ease some lockdown restrictions in March as it presses ahead with Europe’s fastest rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday. The country, which also has Europe’s highest COVID-19 death toll, has been under national lockdown since Jan. 5, with schools closed for most pupils, non-essential businesses shut and people ordered to work from home where possible. “What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible,” Raab told Sky News television.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Austria extends COVID-19 lockdown, sees hard months ahead

Austria on Sunday extend its third COVID-19 lockdown into February, hoping to drive down infection rates despite an influx of variants that spread the coronavirus more easily. The goal is to let shops, museums and personal services like hairdressers reopen from Feb. 8, while the catering and tourism sectors will stay shuttered until at least March. “We have two to three hard months ahead of us,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference, flanked by regional leaders and health officials in a show of unity a day after thousands marched in Vienna to protest against restrictions.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

France observes nationwide 6 p.m. curfew to slow coronavirus spread

Cities, towns and villages across France were practically empty on Saturday as residents stayed home and businesses shut to observe a nationwide curfew intended to help stem the spread of coronavirus, especially a more infectious variant. The virus has killed 70,000 people in France, the seventh highest toll in the world, and the government is particularly worried by the more transmissible variant first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases. The curfew was brought forward two hours to 6 p.m. and will run until 6 a.m. In addition, from Monday anyone travelling to France from outside the European Union will have to show a negative test result and self-isolate for a week upon arrival.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Call on lockdown was not easy, assessed impact: PM

Recalling India’s fight against Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the decision to go in for a nationwide lockdown in March 2020 was not easy as the government had assessed its impact on the economy and people’s livelihood and worked to devise welfare nets.
17th Jan 2021 - Times of India