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A nurse prepares an AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 at the Alonso Suazo healthcare center in Tegucigalpa, on March 15, 2021. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: AstraZeneca Fears Driving More Europeans to Perceive Vaccine as Unsafe, Poll Shows

The global death toll from the coronavirus infection topped 2.715 million on Sunday, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from national and local authorities, the media and other sources.

The US (29.8 million infected, 542,000 deaths), India (11,5 million cases, 159,000 fatalities), and Brazil (11.9 million cases and a death toll of over 294,000) are among the most affected nations.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), administered by the country's Department of Health, said it had approved the local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, several days after its rollout resumed in the EU following its suspension in several European nations due to fears of side effects.

Follow Sputnik’s feed to find out more.      

Table of contents
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03:34 GMT 23.03.2021
South Korean President, Wife Inoculated With AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

SEOUL (Sputnik) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook were inoculated against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday.

Moon, 68, received the vaccine shot ahead of schedule for his age group to attend the G7 summit in June.

The president's vaccination was broadcast by local TV channels.

Earlier, an independent panel of experts in South Korea recommended to continue the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as it found no correlation between vaccinations and blood clots, and the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the harm from possible side effects.

The use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in South Korea is approved for all people aged above 18, including the elderly. Initially, it was given to medical professionals and patients aged 18-65 in hospitals for the care of the elderly. Now about 376,000 more patients over 65 will be vaccinated. The general population 65-74 years old will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine from June. Citizens over 75 will receive the Pfizer vaccine in April.

03:33 GMT 23.03.2021
Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo Announces Start of DS-5670 Coronavirus Vaccine Clinical Trials

TOKYO (Sputnik) - Daiichi Sankyo Company, the second largest pharmaceutical company in Japan, says the first phase of clinical trials of its DS-5670 vaccine against the coronavirus have begun.

"The phase 1/2 trial is being conducted in Japan in a total of 152 healthy adults, including elderly individuals, to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity1 of the vaccine and thereby estimate the recommended dose of DS-5670," the company said in a Monday statement.

Daiichi Sankyo said results from preclinical studies of its new vaccine suggest that positive safety and efficacy of DS-5670 have been confirmed.

Earlier on Monday, Japan’s KM Biologics Co. said it was starting human trials of its coronavirus vaccine.

The mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign was launched in Japan on February 17. The country has already inoculated 40,000 frontline healthcare workers.

02:11 GMT 23.03.2021
Quarantine in Germany to Be Extended Until April 18 – Merkel

The German government has extended its anti-pandemic restrictive measures through 18 April and tightened restrictions during the 1 to 5 April Easter holidays, Reuters reported early on Tuesday, citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In addition, any gathering of over five adults from more than two households will be restricted during holidays, as well as the work of shops, excluding groceries.

"We are now in a very serious situation," the German Chancellor said at a news conference after meeting with 16 state premiers.

Earlier this month, Germany began a gradual easing of restrictive measures, but another surge in coronavirus cases and new COVID-19 strains forced Berlin to postpone the easing of restrictions in order to avoid overstretching healthcare facilities.

00:39 GMT 23.03.2021
AstraZeneca Vaccination to Resume - Spanish Health Ministry

BARCELONA (Sputnik) - The Spanish authorities decided this week to start inoculating people under 65 with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Health Minister Carolina Darias told reporters.

Earlier, people aged 18 to 55 received the vaccine due to a lack of data on how the vaccine works on older people. The Vanguardia newspaper, citing sources, announced on Monday that AstraZeneca vaccinations would resume.

“We are resuming vaccinations with AstraZeneca this Wednesday and the age threshold now set at 55 will be extended to 65,” Darias said, adding that much would depend on the availability of the vaccine.

A recent US study determined that the AstraZeneca vaccine was 79 percent effective in preventing infection while being 100 percent effective in severe or critical cases.

Last week, the European Medicines Agency said that it had found no link between the AstraZeneca vaccine administration and instances of blood clots forming in inoculated people. The research was carried out following a decision of a number of European countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Norway, to suspend the use of the vaccine after reports of a number of cases of blood clotting.

00:37 GMT 23.03.2021
Mexico Produces Over 940,000 Doses of Chinese CanSinoBio Vaccine - Foreign Secretary

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - The Mexican Drugmex pharmaceutical company has produced the first batch of nearly one million CanSino Biologics coronavirus vaccine doses, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard has announced.

"The first shipment of CanSinoBio vaccines left the [Drugmex] plant in Queretaro. Here I thank [Chinese] Ambassador [to Mexico] Zhu Qingqiao for his support to achieve phase 3 and completion in Mexico, the only country in which it is being done. Unidoses, 940,020 delivered today. Thanks!!" Ebrard wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The foreign minister posted pictures of the CanSinoBio vaccine saying it has had good trial results.

"This is what the CansinoBio vaccine against covid-19 delivered today by Drugmex, Queretaro, looks like. One dose. Very good trial results with 15,000 volunteers in our country. Standard cooling," Ebrard wrote on Twitter.

Mexico has thus become the first country to have approved the Chinese CanSinoBio vaccine and to have launched its production outside of China. Before the end of April, Mexico plans to produce 4 million doses of the vaccine. The total aim for this year is 35 million CanSinoBio vaccine doses.

Mexico has also authorized the use of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and those developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as the Coronavac vaccine of the Chinese company of Sinovac.

23:14 GMT 22.03.2021
Brazil's Coronavirus Case Tally Tops 12 Million - Health Ministry

MOSCOW, March 23 (Sputnik) - The number of cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brazil has exceeded 12 million, the country's Health Ministry said in a statement.

The country's case tally increased in the past day by 49,293 to 12,047,526, the ministry said.

The country's COVID-19 death toll rose by 1,383 over the past 24 hours to 295,425.

22:09 GMT 22.03.2021
COVID-19 Emergency Situation Declared in Yemen Amid Spike in Infection Rates - Reports

DOHA (Sputnik) - The Yemeni government has declared a state of emergency in all provinces amid a sharp rise in the number of new coronavirus cases, the Yemen News Agency (Saba) reports.

Provincial authorities have been instructed to "make a decision on partial curfews in accordance with the epidemiological situation," to close public venues and cut the working hours of markets and stores.

The elderly and those suffering from chronic health conditions will be instructed to stay home and all public events, celebrations and "unnecessary" official events will be canceled, Saba said.

On Monday, the Yemeni government announced that the total number of coronavirus cases confirmed in areas under government control had surpassed 3,500 while the COVID-19 death toll was at over 770.

The armed conflict in Yemen between the government and the Houthi movement has been ongoing since 2011. The United Nations considers the situation in Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 80 percent of the population, or 24.1 million people, in need of humanitarian assistance.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, which supports the Yemeni government, proposed a widespread UN-sponsored ceasefire in Yemen and said it was awaiting a response from the rebel Houthi movement.

20:39 GMT 22.03.2021
New Yorkers Aged 50+ Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Starting Tuesday - Governor

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - New York state residents aged 50 and above will be eligible for vaccine shots starting Tuesday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

"Starting tomorrow at 8 AM [12:00 p.m. GMT], all New Yorkers aged 50+ will be eligible for the vaccine," Cuomo said via Twitter on Monday.

During a briefing, the governor said the state will have enough to equitably vaccinate New York residents.

New York state has some 19.5 million people, according to a 2019 census. Roughly a quarter of them have been vaccinated for the COVID-19 as of the first week of this month, judging by the 5.5 million doses that state officials said had been administered.

CNBC reported that more US states were moving to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of making every adult American age 18 and older eligible for a vaccine by May 1. Biden, who came into office on January 20, set a target of delivering 100 million COVID-19 shots within 100 days, but managed to make good on that promise in less than 60 days.

Since then, the president has pushed for a speedier pace of immunization and even predicted that families could hold yard barbecues among themselves by the Fourth of July Independence Day holiday.

Aside from New York, Florida on Monday became the latest state to begin vaccinating residents age 50 and older. Texas expanded eligibility to the age group beginning last week.

New York was the biggest COVID-19 hotspot at the height of the pandemic last year. At the peak of the outbreak in April, the state had about 18,000 people in hospital and there were roughly 800 people dying a day from complications caused by the virus.

On Sunday, COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York were at 4,355, with 54 fatalities.

20:07 GMT 22.03.2021
Ecuador Starts Pre-Clinical Trials of Domestic COVID-19 Vaccine - Manufacturer

BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - Ecuador is starting pre-clinical trials of a domestic vaccine against COVID-19 using animals, and the drug may be ready for clinical trials in one year, the head of the biomedical research laboratory at the Espol public university, Washington Cardenas, told Sputnik.

The laboratory started the work on creation of a national recombinant protein vaccine in May 2020.

"We are at the stage of pre-clinical trials using mice. We are starting trials," Cardenas said.

The scientist declined to comment on how the vaccine works until the end of the trials.

According to Cardenas, the vaccine may become effective against new variants of the virus. When asked about the timing of clinical trials, the head of the laboratory expressed hope that "the vaccine will be ready [for them] in a year."

Ecuador has so far reached agreements on vaccines deliveries with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac as well as through the Covax international mechanism.

20:05 GMT 22.03.2021
Russia Struck Deal With India on Production of 100 Mln COVID-19 Vaccine Doses - Putin

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said that Moscow has signed an agreement with an Indian company to manufacture 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses.

"The news of this day is that an agreement for 100 million human doses [of a vaccine against COVID-19] has been signed with one of the Indian companies," the head of state said at a meeting with vaccine manufacturers.

While the president did not give the name of the vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund previously said that India-based Virchow Biotech vaccine manufacturer seeks to produce up to 200 million doses of Sputnik V, the main Russian-developed vaccine, per year.

Sputnik V has so far been approved in 55 countries and ranks second top worldwide in terms of approvals by state regulators. Last month, the prestigious Lancet medical magazine published a study confirming the vaccine efficacy at 91.6 percent.

19:21 GMT 22.03.2021
Swiss Drug Regulator Temporarily Approves Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

ZURICH (Sputnik) - Switzerland has given temporary authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 to be used in the Swiss immunization campaign, the national medicines regulator Swissmedic said on Monday.

"Swissmedic has temporarily approved the Covid-19 vaccine 'COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen' developed by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson for people aged 18 and over," the watchdog said in a statement.

According to the regulator, the data provided  on the vaccine showed that it had average efficacy of 66.9 percent, and prevented nearly 85 percent of severe COVID-19 forms. The statement noted that the vaccine was particularly effective against the Brazilian and South African coronavirus strains.

The country began its vaccination program in late December, using Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

17:15 GMT 22.03.2021
Germany Extends COVID Lockdown Until 18 April
17:11 GMT 22.03.2021
Fauci Recognises Efficacy of Russian Sputnik V COVID Vaccine
A medical worker demonstrates ampoules containing the Russian Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine at the El Menza Sports Palace in Tunisia, which has been converted into a hospital.  - Sputnik International, 1920
Top US Infectious Disease Official Says Russia's Sputnik Vaccine 'Quite Effective'
16:52 GMT 22.03.2021
US Vice President Outlines American COVID Rescue Plan
16:28 GMT 22.03.2021
UK Prime Minister Says EU Does Not Want to Ban COVID-19 Vaccine Exports

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that European Union leaders have given him assurance that the bloc does not want to ban exports of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in European plants, amid a fresh row with the UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over supplies.

"I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades. I think that’s very, very important. I’ve talked to our friends repeatedly over a period, we’re all facing the same pandemic, we all have the same problems," Johnson told reporters during a visit to a BAE Systems factory in Lancashire, England.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the EU was prepared to stop exports of vaccines destined to countries that were producing their own doses and not exporting them in turn.

Three days later, von der Leyen was more explicit and said that her message was directed at the UK-Swedish company AstraZeneca for not fulfilling its delivery obligations with the European bloc.

"This is a message to AstraZeneca: You fulfil your part of the deal toward Europe before you start to deliver to other countries," the European commission president told Germany’s Funke Media Group in an interview published on Saturday.

An eventual ban on the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford could hinder the UK vaccination campaign, which has so far seen over half of the UK adult population, or 27.6 million people, having their first dose of the vaccine in just 100 days.

The UK government expects that by July 31, all adults in the country should have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, but a study published by The Guardian warned that an eventual ban on vaccine exports from the EU would delay the UK’s vaccine program for at least two months.

The PA Media news agency reported earlier that Johnson already spoke last week with von der Leyden and his counterparts from the Netherlands and Belgium, and will be speaking with the rest of the leaders before the EU’s online summit on Thursday.

16:26 GMT 22.03.2021
Canadian Court Allows Hotel Quarantine Plan to Continue Despite Allowing Case to Progress

The Canadian government will be allowed to continue enforcing its contentious out-of-pocket hotel quarantine program while a legal challenge against it winds its way through the court system, an Ontario judge ruled on Monday.

The Trudeau government’s requirement for all incoming air passengers into Canada to quarantine for three days at their own expense at a state-designated hotel is being challenged in court by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), which argues the practice violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and had asked for an interim injunction in the case.

“The motion is dismissed,” Ontario Superior Court of Justice judge Fred Myers said in the ruling. “I do not see why the main constitutional hearing needs to await another injunction hearing.”

Myers said that the interim injunction application was filed in order to halt enforcement of the program while the government prepared an evidentiary response. However, the Ontario court justice said that he received a full injunction argument from government attorneys much faster than expected.

The CCF issued a statement calling the court ruling bittersweet but pointed out that the court did recognize the applicants in the challenge have sympathetic stories and the constitutional questions need to be heard on the merits.

"The court also acknowledged that the applicants’ section 7 Charter liberty interests are engaged by the quarantine hotel policy,” CCF Litigation Director Christine Van Geyn said in a statement.

Canada’s Justice Department did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.

Canada’s Conservative Party, led by Shadow Minister for Health Michelle Rempel Garner, has called on the Trudeau government to suspend the hotel quarantine program and introduce an at-home quarantine verification system by properly trained and vetted security agents.

Although the Canadian government is constitutionally prohibited from barring citizens from leaving the country, the Trudeau government has used enhanced border security measures to discourage international travel amid the pandemic.

All entrants into Canada must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine. As of March 25, 2020, Quarantine Act violators may be subject to a fine of up to $537,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.

The measure came into effect on February 22 and will expire on April 21 if the government chooses not to extend it.

16:20 GMT 22.03.2021
German Gov’t Confirms Merkel’s Conversation With UK’s Johnson on Vaccine Supply Issue

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed by phone with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson the issue of coronavirus vaccine deliveries, German Government Deputy Spokesperson Martina Fitz confirmed on Monday.

The official was asked at a briefing whether Merkel and Johnson talked about AstraZeneca vaccine exports controls from the European Union to the United Kingdom.

"I can say that the Federal Chancellor spoke to prime minister Johnson on the phone yesterday and that the distribution of the vaccine was part of the conversation. I can't tell you anything more from this confidential conversation," Fitz said.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU was ready to use all tools at its disposal to halt exports of vaccines destined to states which were manufacturing their own jabs. She specified that the matter concerned the UK-Swedish AstraZeneca firm, as it failed to fulfil its delivery commitments regarding the European nations.

Johnson is expected to discuss the blocking of vaccine exports to the UK separately with the heads of the EU countries prior to a virtual summit on Thursday, where the bloc members are due to talk about an eventual ban on vaccine exports.

15:56 GMT 22.03.2021
Here is Another Independent Confirmation of Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine Safety
13:53 GMT 22.03.2021
Egypt Plans to Ink Deals With China's Sinopharm, Sinovac on Joint COVID Vaccine Production

Cairo expects to conclude an agreement later in March on the joint production of two Chinese coronavirus vaccines — by Sinopharm and Sinovac — in the North African nation, Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Monday.

"We have considerably advanced in negotiations with Chinese companies Sinopharm and Sinovac on the joint production of their vaccines in Egypt … We expect to sign a cooperation agreement within this month," Zayed told a joint press conference with Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang.

The production can be established through Egypt's vaccine center Vacsera, according to the health minister.

Since December, Egypt has received at least 650,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, with about 3,000 Egyptian citizens already participated in the vaccine clinical trials as volunteers.

The country's medical personnel started to receive the vaccine shot since late January, and, beginning from 4 March, those people suffering from chronic diseases and elderly population can get inoculated.

To date, Egypt has approved four COVID-19 vaccines, including Sinopharm, the AstraZeneca vaccine and its India-produced version Covishield, and Russia’s Sputnik V. As of now, the country's health authorities have recorded over 195,000 cases of the coronavirus.

13:15 GMT 22.03.2021
Mauritius Becomes 55th Country to Approve Use of Sputnik V Vaccine, RDIF Says
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Russia's coronavirus vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac, trade-named Sputnik V, at a coronavirus vaccination center at a shopping mall, in Moscow, Russia. - Sputnik International, 1920
Mauritius Becomes 55th Country to Approve Use of Sputnik V Vaccine, RDIF Says
13:05 GMT 22.03.2021
Putin Plans to Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus Tuesday
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking to vaccine producers. March 22, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
Putin Plans to Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus Tuesday
12:31 GMT 22.03.2021
French Labor Minister Hospitalised After Testing Positive for COVID-19
11:50 GMT 22.03.2021
AstraZeneca Blood Clots Scare Drives More Europeans to Perceive Vaccine as Unsafe, Poll Shows

More Europeans are now showing less confidence in the UK-Swedish AstraZenca COVID-19 vaccine due to fears of developing blood clots after immunization, according to a YouGov poll released on Monday.

"The decision by many countries, including many EU nations, suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following concerns that it could cause blood clots, has hugely damaged public perceptions of the vaccine’s safety in Europe," YouGov said in a statement.

In comparison to a similar survey conducted in February, people in France, Germany, Spain and Italy are now more prone to seeing the shot as unsafe.

"In each case this represents a substantial decline in perceived safety. In our previous survey in Germany, 43% said they believed the vaccine to be safe, compared to 40% who considered it unsafe. As of now, a majority of Germans think the vaccine is unsafe (55%) and just a third think it safe (32%)," the poll results showed.

In Italy and Spain, the level of confidence in AstraZeneca dropped from 54 and 59 percent to 36 and 38 percent, respectively.

"Only in Britain can the blood clots story be considered to have little to no impact, with the vast majority still considering the vaccine safe," YouGov said.

In Sweden, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still seen as safe, with 43 percent of respondents saying that they are okay with it and 34 percent saying the opposite. Danes, on the other hand, are tied 42-42 percent.

The survey was conducted from 15-18 March among 1,672 UK citizens, 2,024 Germans, 1,022 French, 1,016 Italians, 1,050 Spaniards, 1,004 Danes and 1,017 Swedes.

On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said that it had found no link between AstraZeneca vaccine administration and blood clots in inoculated people. The research was carried out following a decision of a number of European countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Norway, to suspend the use of the vaccine after reports on isolated cases of blood clotting in vaccinated people.

10:52 GMT 22.03.2021
EMA to Send Mission to Russia in April to Inspect Sputnik V Trials, Production

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will send a group of experts to Russia in April to inspect clinical trials and the production of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the head of the agency's health threats and vaccines strategy, Marco Cavaleri, said live on the air during a broadcast by Italy's Rai 3 radio station on Monday.

The statement came after a source familiar with the negotiations between the Sputnik V developer and EMA told Sputnik last week that the bloc could approve the Russian vaccine in the second half of May.

"We are conducting a cyclic check of [Sputnik V], so we will review all the data as soon as it is collected in order to authorize it faster. In April, we will conduct an inspection of both [vaccine's] production and clinical trials in Russia. Then we will try to estimate by what time we will have all the data necessary for the approval of this vaccine," Cavaleri said.

The official added that the EMA was also inspecting the data regarding Germany's CureVac vaccine and the one developed by US Novavax.

Russia's Sputnik V has already been approved for use in 54 countries.

Over the weekend, Nicola Zingaretti, the president of Italy's Lazio region said that the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases was going to start trials of the vaccine. The institute chief said that Rome would send two inspectors to visit vaccine production sites in Russia.

09:56 GMT 22.03.2021
India Increases Interval Between Two Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine

"The recommendation has been revised to provide the 2nd dose of COVISHIELD at 4-8 weeks’ interval after the 1st dose, instead of earlier practiced interval of 4-6 weeks," India's health ministry said in a statement.

09:34 GMT 22.03.2021
Greece Obliges Private Doctors to Help in Fighting COVID-19 in Attica

The Greek authorities have required private doctors of several specializations to help hospitals in the eastern region of Attica in combating COVID-19, Vassilis Kikilias, the Greek health minister, said on Monday.

On Wednesday, Kikilias already said that if in 48 hours at least 200 private medics do not go to state hospitals on a voluntary basis, they will be forced to do this. Only 61 doctors responded to the call.

"Taking into account the emergency conditions and the urgent need for treatment of our fellow citizens, the health minister requisitions services of private doctors of such specializations as pathologists, pulmonologists and physicians," the statement said.

According to Yannis Kotsiopoulos, the secretary general for health services, medics have already been selected and officially hired. They are doctors of different profiles under the age of 65.

Volunteers will be paid 2,000 euros ($2,380), and the specialists who were forced to help will be made aware of their payment amount soon. They will receive an order with information regarding the hospital to which they will be sent. If they refuse to receive the order, they could be punished with imprisonment starting from three months to five years.

Medics in the country work under a state license, so generally the government has a right to require that they work in state hospitals, Greek doctors told Sputnik.

Greece has been witnessing a spike in COVID-19 since the second half of February, and hospitals are overwhelmed. During the whole pandemic, the country has registered 237,000 cases, around 93,000 people have recovered and more than 7,000 people died of the disease.

08:55 GMT 22.03.2021
US Miami Beach Curfew, Causeway Closures Extended to 12 April, Reports Say

Crowds visiting Miami Beach City, United States, during spring break have forced the city commission to extend COVID-19 lockdown to 12 April with an 8:00 p.m. curfew and a 10 p.m. causeway closure as a means to stop the spread of the coronavirus, local news website reported.

The curfew will be active from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., as called for in an emergency meeting by the city commission on Sunday, according to Local 10 news agency. Restaurants will be allowed to operate for food deliveries until 6 a.m., however, their seating areas must be closed at 8 p.m.

On Sunday night, the High Impact Zone, also known as the city's entertainment district, faced its second night of mandatory curfews. On Saturday, police had to fire pepper-balls into a crowd that refused to follow curfew guidelines.

"The curfew went well. We obviously, with the late notification, expected there to be some residuals or people who had not heard that the curfew was in place ... At 9:00 p.m. we started actively moving and people started going to their hotels and Airbnb," Miami Beach police chief Richard Clements said as quoted by Local 10.

The unruly crowds have also threatened some local businesses: some restaurants had to shut down after some of their customers left without paying or damaged outside seating areas, the website reports.

Over 1,000 arrests have been made in the past month. Miami Beach police said they have arrested over 50 people and confiscated eight guns over the weekend alone.

The US has the highest cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in the world at nearly 30 million.

08:51 GMT 22.03.2021
South Korean Expert Panel Recommends Continuing Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine

Choi Eun-hwa, the head of a South Korean independent panel of experts, recommended continuing the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout due to the absence of any connection between thromboembolism cases and the vaccine, as the local media reports.

On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU drug watchdog, announced that it found no correlation between AstraZeneca vaccine administration and blood clots in people inoculated against COVID-19. The research was carried out following a decision of a number of European countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Norway, to suspend the use of the vaccine after reports on isolated cases of blood clotting in vaccinated people.

"The AstraZeneca vaccine is effective and safe as it reduces the possibility of COVID-19 patients falling into a critical condition and the fatality rate," Choi said, as quoted by Yonhap News Agency.

The group head also said that the benefit of inoculation outweighs the risk of getting any negative side effects. He also added that there is no reason for studying connections between rare cases of side effects after being inoculated and the vaccine.

South Korea began its vaccination campaign on 26 February, and has already inoculated some 1.3 percent of the population. AstraZeneca's vaccine has been given to almost 620,100 people, while over 57,000 have received that of Pfizer.

08:50 GMT 22.03.2021
AstraZeneca Says Commission Found No Increased Risk of Thrombosis Associated With Vaccine

AstraZeneca announced on Monday that an independent commission identified no increased risk of thrombosis among participants of the trial who received its coronavirus vaccine.

"The vaccine was well tolerated, and the independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) identified no safety concerns related to the vaccine. The DSMB conducted a specific review of thrombotic events, as well as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) with the assistance of an independent neurologist. The DSMB found no increased risk of thrombosis or events characterised by thrombosis among the 21,583 participants receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. The specific search for CVST found no events in this trial," AstraZeneca said in a press release.

The phase 3 trial involving 32,449 participants across the United States, Peru and Chile showed that the vaccine is 79 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 percent effective against severe disease and hospitalization.

08:15 GMT 22.03.2021
Russia Registers 9,284 COVID-19 Cases in Past 24 Hours

Russia registered 9,284 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, down from 9,299 the day before, taking the overall tally to 4,466,153, the coronavirus response centre said on Monday.

"Over the past day, 9,284 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 83 Russian regions, including 1,015 cases (10.9 percent) without clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 4,466,153, with the rate of increase at 0.21 percent.

Moscow confirmed 1,586 new coronavirus cases over the given period, up from 1,511 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 865 new cases, down from 881 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 646 new cases, down from 648 on Sunday.

No new cases were registered in the Nenets Autonomous Region and the Chukotka Autonomous Region.

The response centre reported 361 COVID-19 fatalities, down from 371 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 95,391.

Total recoveries increased by 7,790 over the given period, down from 8,743 the day before, and reached 4,077,185.

08:01 GMT 22.03.2021
Russia's RDIF, Virchow Biotech to Produce Up to 200Mln Doses of Sputnik V Vaccine in India

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with India's Virchow Biotech Private Limited to produce up to 200 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in India per year.

"RDIF ... and Virchow Biotech Private Limited (part of the Virchow Group), one of the leading vaccine and pharmaceutical producers in India, announce the agreement to produce in the country up to 200 million doses per year of Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine against coronavirus," RDIF said in a press release.

According to RDIF, technology transfer is expected to be completed in the second quarter of the year, followed by full-scale commercial production of the vaccine.

"The agreement with Virchow Biotech is an important step to facilitate the full-scale local production of the vaccine in India and to supply our international partners globally," RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev noted.

"Virchow’s proven capabilities in large scale drug substance manufacturing should help meet the global demand for this vaccine. We are also happy to learn of the positive feedback that this vaccine has been receiving from all сountries," Virchow Biotech Managing Director Tummuru Murali added.

07:22 GMT 22.03.2021
Chile, Peru Show AstraZeneca Vaccine is 79% Effective Against COVID-19, Study Finds

A trial involving over 32,000 adult participants in the United States, Peru and Chile has revealed that AstraZeneca's vaccine is 79 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 percent effective at preventing severe disease, the company announced on Monday.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 32,449 participants across 88 trial centers in the US, Peru and Chile. According to AstraZeneca, approximately 20 percent of participants were 65 years and over.

"The AstraZeneca US Phase III trial of AZD1222 demonstrated statistically significant vaccine efficacy of 79% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% efficacy at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation ... Vaccine efficacy was consistent across ethnicity and age. Notably, in participants aged 65 years and over, vaccine efficacy was 80%," AstraZeneca said in a press release.

"These findings reconfirm previous results observed in AZD1222 trials across all adult populations but it's exciting to see similar efficacy results in people over 65 for the first time. This analysis validates the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a much-needed additional vaccination option, offering confidence that adults of all ages can benefit from protection against the virus," Ann Falsey, a professor at the US University of Rochester School of Medicine and a co-lead principal investigator for the trial, said.

AstraZeneca added it would continue analyzing data and preparing for the primary analysis to be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks.

06:55 GMT 22.03.2021
Bolivian Health Ministry Announces Arrival of 1st Batch of AstraZeneca Vaccine Via COVAX

The first batch of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus vaccine distributed through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility has arrived in Bolivia, according to the Ministry of Health.

In total, the Latin American country is set to receive 672,000 coronavirus vaccine doses free of charge via the international mechanism.

"Bolivia has received 228,000 vaccine [doses] through the COVAX mechanism to enhance the fight against the coronavirus," the ministry said on Sunday.

The second shipment is expected in April, the ministry added.

The Latin American nation rolled out its mass inoculation campaign in late January. Apart from the AstraZeneca vaccine, Bolivia has secured coronavirus vaccine doses from China's Sinopharm company, as well as ordered Russia's Sputnik V.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Bolivia has confirmed more than 264,000 cases of the coronavirus, including over 12,000 fatalities.

06:33 GMT 22.03.2021
Hong Kong Chief Receives 2nd Shot of COVID-10 Vaccine by China's Sinovac

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam received on Monday the second injection of the coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech company, media reported.

The first dose was administered to the top Hong Kong official on 22 February. An hour after being inoculated, Lam said that she felt good. No side effects were reported following the injection.

According to the Chinese Global Times newspaper, the special administrative region's chief was vaccinated at 10 a.m. local time (02:00 GMT).

Hong Kong rolled out its mass immunization program on 26 February, using the vaccines developed by Sinovac and Pfizer/BioNTech. According to the latest data, more than 354,000 people have been vaccinated to date.

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Women wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, ride an escalator at Miyashita Park at Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan, March 9, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
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