A vial with the AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, Germany, 16 March 2021.  - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Germany Reports 29,426 New COVID-19 Cases

The global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 2.97 million; over 138 million cases of infection have been detected, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from national and local authorities, the media and other sources.

Currently, among the most affected nations are the US (31.4 million infected, 564,000 deaths), India (13.9 million cases, 172,000 fatalities), and Brazil (13.6 million cases and a death toll of over 358,000).

On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the bloc had reached an important milestone, as 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered so far.

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03:09 GMT 16.04.2021
A nurse prepares a dose of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a sport centre, as the country starts mass inoculation campaign with the Russian vaccine donated by Serbia, in Skopje, North Macedonia April 5, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine May Also Effectively Protect Animals From COVID-19, Developer Says
23:07 GMT 15.04.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Indian government on Thursday published rules for expediting the issuance of emergency use permits for vaccines against the coronavirus authorized abroad.

The national vaccines portfolio currently include three drugs against COVID-19, namely, the locally-produced variant of AstraZeneca vaccine branded Covieshield, India's Covaxin, and recently authorized Russia's Sputnik V. The deliveries of the Russian vaccine are due to begin later in April, and its production is due to start next month.

The country has already allowed the possibility to use vaccines approved by the world's health agencies, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services, the European Medicines Agency, the UK Medicines, and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Japan's Pharmaceuticals, and Medical Devices Agency, or included in the WHO list of emergency use.

"An application may be submitted by a foreign manufacturer through its Indian subsidiary or its authorized agent in India. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization [of the Government of India] will process such applications ... and the Drugs Controller General of India will review and make a decision within 3 working days from the date of submission of the full application by the applicant," the rules published by Health Ministry states.

According to the ministry, initially, the applicant company is eligible to use its vaccine only on 100 volunteers and is due to submit safety data to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization. Given the data are satisfactory, the vaccine would be allowed for use in the country.

20:07 GMT 15.04.2021

TORONTO (Sputnik) - A group of Canadian politicians on Thursday called for an end to the lockdowns across the country, saying the societal and financial impacts of further prolonged shutdowns ostensibly to protect the population from the novel coronavirus would be too much to bear.

"We need to open Canada up, slowly but safely, with respect for the vulnerable," parliamentarian Derek Sloan said during a press briefing.

Sloan explained that the on-and-off lockdowns that Canadians have endured for the past year contributing to a range of societal problems, including mental health and financial issues.

The independent parliamentarian for the riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington urged the federal government to pursue further studies of the benefits preventative medicine and therapeutics in combating the deadly virus.

Sloan also took the federal government to task for a number of alleged botches, including the reluctance to promptly close borders and a failure to protect senior citizens in the early days of the pandemic. Canadian health officials estimated that up to 80 percent of all of the country’s fatalities were attributed to outbreaks in care facilities.

Independent provincial parliamentarian Randy Hillier from Ontario, and a fellow member of the End the Lockdowns caucus, spoke of the need for greater scrutiny and discussion concerning the coronavirus pandemic, while rallying against the vilification of those who oppose government-imposed restrictions.

Addressing the lack of broad-based political support for easing of restrictions in Canada, Sloan said that Canada’s system of strict party discipline encourages a culture of conformity and has resulted in a "failure of courage."

19:49 GMT 15.04.2021
Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Chief Freelance Specialist of the Moscow Health Department for Oncology, Director of the Moscow Clinical Research Center Igor Khatkov during a lecture Breast Cancer: Detect and Cure in Time at the Rossiya Segodnya International Multimedia Press Center in Moscow. - Sputnik International, 1920
Renowned Russian Surgeon Becomes Country's First Member of American Surgical Association
19:43 GMT 15.04.2021
A medical worker holds an ampoule of Russian Gam-COVID-VAK (trademark Sputnik V) coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in Caracas, Venezuela. - Sputnik International, 1920
Fresh Batch of Sputnik V Delivered to Venezuela, Vice President Says
19:07 GMT 15.04.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia extended the suspension of flights with the United Kingdom until June 1, the federal coronavirus response center said on Thursday.

"The Russian federal coronavirus response center decided to extend the suspension of air traffic with the UK. To ensure the protection of public health, the restrictions have been extended to 23:59 [20:59 GMT] on June 1, 2021," the statement says.

17:57 GMT 15.04.2021

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, aged 71, on Thursday, said that he was administered Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, even though the government recommends the AstraZeneca shot to those aged over 60.

The minister told reporters in Berlin that he was administered the shot on Wednesday, adding that the Pfizer vaccine was used at his vaccination site.

"I didn't want to make the vaccination a public event," Seehofer said.

Germany started its vaccination campaign in late December in line with the EU rollout. People from high-priority groups, including medical workers, elderly people, and teachers, are the first to get their doses. The country has so far registered four vaccines — those made by Pfizer/BionTech, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, and AstraZeneca. To date, 14.6 million, or 17.6 percent of Germans were vaccinated at least once.

The use of the coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca was discontinued in Germany on March 15 as a precautionary measure after information about adverse thromboembolic effects on the background of vaccination. After the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported that the vaccine is safe and effective, Germany resumed vaccination from March 19.

In late March, the standing committee on vaccination at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases recommended that the UK-Swedish vaccine be used in those aged 60 and over. However, those under the age of 60 who were once administered the AstraZeneca shot were advised to get re-vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna drugs.

Notably, the EMA experts have confirmed the link between the blood clot events and the AstraZeneca vaccine. Despite the findings, the agency still insists that the benefits of the medicine outweigh its risks.

17:45 GMT 15.04.2021
An ampoule containing the Gam-Covid-Vak (Sputnik V) vaccine during vaccination against COVID-19 with the Russian drug Sputnik V at a vaccination point deployed in the building of the Belgrade Expo Center. - Sputnik International, 1920
Sputnik V Deliveries to India to Begin in April, Production to Start in May, Ambassador Says
17:09 GMT 15.04.2021

Norway decided not to resume, but also not to cease altogether, the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine despite the National Institute of Public Health recommending that the drug be abandoned due to side effects, Norwegian Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Thursday.

"The government believes that we do not have sufficient grounds to make a final decision. We must examine the consequences of the vaccine impact on health of the entire population if we have to live with [restrictive] measures longer than Europe," Hoeie said, as quoted by NRK broadcaster.

The minister cited health experts' recommendation to exclude the AstraZeneca vaccine from Norway's vaccination program due to rare but serious side effects.

The government is now setting up an expert group that will comprehensively assess the risks and submit a report with findings on May 10, Hoeie said.

Norway suspended the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine on March 11 due to multiple cases of post-inoculation blood clotting, as did most EU member states. Despite EU regulator certification of the vaccine's safety, Denmark chose not to resume its use.

17:08 GMT 15.04.2021
16:32 GMT 15.04.2021

Turkey has reported 61,400 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with 297 new deaths, the country's health ministry said. 

16:14 GMT 15.04.2021

The World Health Organization's (WHO) regional director for Europe, Hans Henri Kluge, said on Thursday that while it was extremely important to keep track of the COVID-19 immunization coverage, it was equally important to make sure that the vaccination certificates did not increase inequity.

"There is a difference, of course, between a certificate and what we call a passport. So, WHO is currently examining the political, ethical, and legal aspects because what we would not like to see, obviously, is that whatever measure is increasing inequities, and especially not that, given the scarcity of vaccines, people who travel would be prioritized above the ones who are most exposed ... and the most vulnerable," Kluge told reporters.

The EU commissioner in charge of vaccines, Thierry Breton, said in late March that health passports would be available in the European Union within the next two to three months in digital or paper form.

15:26 GMT 15.04.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Australia's federal authorities are investigating the death of a woman who developed blood clots presumably after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, the country's department of health reported on Thursday.

"The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and New South Wales Health authorities are investigating a death in NSW, as part of this process the TGA is seeking further clinical information including clinical test results from the New South Wales Health Department," the official statement reads.

According to the authorities, the link between vaccination and the reported death has not been established yet, but the investigations are underway. Information on the vaccine's manufacturer has not been disclosed.

15:25 GMT 15.04.2021
13:57 GMT 15.04.2021
13:40 GMT 15.04.2021

“As of today, both Stubbley and Osceola are in good spirits and are receiving supportive care from our Veterinary and Animal Care Staff. Their symptoms appear to be improving thanks to the quick actions and decisions of animal care staff to initiate testing and wonderful care at the onset of their symptoms,” the zoo said.

13:26 GMT 15.04.2021
13:17 GMT 15.04.2021
13:05 GMT 15.04.2021

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday said she was administered the first shot of a coronavirus vaccine.

"After we passed 100 million vaccinations in the EU, I’m very glad I got my first shot of #COVID19 vaccine today," von der Leyen tweeted, without mentioning the name of the vaccine.

She noted that the pandemic would be brought under control as soon as the bloc-wide vaccination campaign is completed.

The mass immunization campaign began in the EU in late December 2020 with four authorized vaccines, namely Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. To date, the bloc has received 126 million shots of COVID-19 vaccines and administered 100 million doses.

12:47 GMT 15.04.2021

The French secretary of state for European affairs, Clement Beaune, has expressed dissatisfaction over the decision of the head of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region to pre-order Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

"I think this is wrong and irresponsible. If you follow this logic, what will happen? If every region or every department, every city were to say: 'I have an opportunity, I will order.' What will we have? ... I believe that the vaccination policy should be equal for all French people," Beaune said as aired by Radio J.

According to the official, it is necessary to wait for the decision of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the Russian vaccine.

"We should wait for the assessment of the European regulator. Perhaps we will order it at the right time," he added.

On Tuesday, Renaud Muselier, the head of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region in southeastern France, said that he had secured half a million shots of the Sputnik V vaccine, pending approval at the European level.

Last week, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the far-left France Untamed political party and a former presidential candidate, said that Paris had been aware of the high efficacy of Sputnik V since November, but refrained from procuring it owing to ideological considerations.

12:47 GMT 15.04.2021
12:42 GMT 15.04.2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) experts said on Thursday that there was currently no evidence suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccines adversely affected the fertility of both women and men.

"In terms of the COVID-19 vaccines' effect on the fertility of either women or men, the current evidence doesn't suggest any such. The use of the COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials did not show any adverse events on the fertility of either women or men," Siddhartha Datta, WHO Europe's program manager for vaccine-preventable disease and immunization, told reporters.

Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said during the same press briefing that the impact of the coronavirus itself on fertility was thoroughly studied by researchers.

"There are many things that we are continuing to learn about the disease itself, both in terms of the acute phase of the disease and, of course, in terms of the longer-term consequences on peoples' health. So, we're reviewing all of this data and all of this research," Smallwood noted.

12:36 GMT 15.04.2021

Almost 18 percent of Germans have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, Jens Spahn, the German health minister, said on Thursday.

“The number of vaccinations per day has reached high levels. From 500,000-700,000 shots are administered regularly, though not every day. Yesterday, 558,000 jabs were given. Thus, 19.9 million vaccines were administered; 14.6 million people received at least one dose, which is 17.6 percent of all Germans,” Spahn said during a press conference.

Germany started its vaccination campaign in late December in line with the EU rollout. People from high-priority groups, including medical workers, elderly people, and teachers, are the first to get their shots.

The country has so far registered four vaccines — those made by Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson and AstraZeneca.

12:06 GMT 15.04.2021
11:56 GMT 15.04.2021

Denmark can afford to stop administering the coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, as the authorities have managed to bring the epidemiological situation in the country under control, Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, said on Thursday.

Media reported on Wednesday that Denmark became the first country to entirely drop the AstraZeneca vaccine from the country's immunization program amid concerns over a rare blood clotting disorder. The European country also suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pending an EU probe into reports of post-inoculation blood clots.

"Denmark has had an ability to bring down cases to really controlled levels, has widespread testing, and has a testing positivity of significantly under one percent, which means that Denmark feels quite confident in its current ability to control COVID-19 in the country," Smallwood said at a briefing.

According to the WHO official, the epidemiological situation in the country has been a key factor allowing the authorities to halt the use of the two coronavirus vaccines.

"I understand the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark is ready to, or looking already into, options for sharing AstraZeneca vaccines with other countries, which is the recommendation that we had before Denmark made the decision," Hans Henri Kluge, WHO's regional director for Europe, added.

Following the recommendation of the US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to temporarily halt the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over reports of blood clotting side effects, the pharmaceutical company itself decided to pause the distribution of the drug to Europe for the time being.

AstraZeneca's vaccine has also come under international criticism amid blood clot concerns. Despite the EU regulator's report confirming that post-inoculation thrombosis was a "very rare" side effect, a number of countries restricted its use last month.

11:49 GMT 15.04.2021
11:03 GMT 15.04.2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 on Friday, German daily newspaper Die Welt reported.

As Merkel is aged 66, she is allowed to get a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the German government has halted the use of the vaccine for people younger than 60 due to the blood clots cases.

10:54 GMT 15.04.2021

"There's no change to the government's stance, to do everything possible to prevent the spread of infections as we head towards the Olympics," Suga said.

10:40 GMT 15.04.2021
10:28 GMT 15.04.2021
10:03 GMT 15.04.2021

Russia's coronavirus vaccine for animals can become the first vaccine of this type approved in the European Union, since the bloc's drug regulator currently has no such vaccines under evaluation, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) told Sputnik on Thursday, adding that evaluation can take up to 210 days.

In late March, Russia registered the first vaccine against COVID-19 for animals. The Carnivac-Cov vaccine was developed by the Federal Center for Animal Health. It is already available for orders.

"At the moment, no COVID-19 vaccines for animals are under evaluation by EMA. Developers of COVID-19 vaccines for animals can submit an application for a marketing authorisation in the EU if the applicant is established in the EU (e.g. have a subsidiary in a EU Member State). They would also need to adhere to the EU standards and requirements for quality, safety and efficacy," EMA said.

The evaluation process may take up to 210 days, it is interrupted after day 120 and possibly also after day 180 by a so-called "clock stop" period, during which the company prepares answers to questions from the EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use, the regulator explained.

"Clock stops can be of variable duration - depending on the questions raised and the time needed by applicants to prepare their responses - and do not count towards the 210 evaluation days," EMA specified.

09:20 GMT 15.04.2021

"We know from last autumn what happens when we don't act quickly," German Health Minister Jens Spahnsaid, adding that doctors expect some 6,000 patients to be in intensive care by the end of the month.

08:54 GMT 15.04.2021
08:30 GMT 15.04.2021

"The drug is available in Germany, we need it much more and we want it much more and we are working on rolling it out across the nation," Health Minister Jens Spahn said .

08:12 GMT 15.04.2021
08:11 GMT 15.04.2021

 Russia registered 8,944 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 8,326 the day before, taking the overall tally to 4,675,153, the coronavirus response centre said on Thursday.

"Over the past day, 8,944 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 83 Russian regions, including 1,110 cases (12.4 percent) without clinical symptoms," the centre said.

The rate of increase went up to 0.19 percent.

Moscow confirmed 2,455 new coronavirus cases over the same period, up from 1,837 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 719 new cases, up from 712 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 565 new cases, down from 568 on Wednesday.

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

The response centre reported 398 COVID-19 fatalities, down from 399 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 104,398.

Total recoveries increased by 10,225 over the given period, up from 9,447 the previous day, and reached 4,301,448 in total.

08:05 GMT 15.04.2021

The New Delhi government has decided to introduce a curfew on weekends as India's capital city struggles to halt a flare-up in COVID-19 cases, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday.

India has been witnessing a spike in the daily infection rate for over a month, resulting in the number of patients jumping from about 135,000 to over 1.4 million. On Thursday, the country registered 200,739 new infections — the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak — with the majority of them registered in New Delhi

"I had a meeting with ... other officials. We decided to impose a weekend curfew in Delhi. This happens because people usually go to work on weekdays and have fun on weekends. Therefore, to break the chain of growing COVID-19 cases, we are imposing a weekend curfew," Kejriwal said in a video address.

From Friday evening to Monday morning, gyms, shopping centers and beauty salons will be closed, while cinemas will be allowed to work if their occupancy does not exceed 30 percent of the seats available. Only essential services will be exempted from the weekend curfew.

At the same time, other coronavirus-related restrictions will continue to operate, including a nighttime curfew set to remain in force until 30 April.

06:26 GMT 15.04.2021

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced on Thursday that it reached an agreement with South Korea's biotech companies GL Rapha and ISU ABXIS on technology transfer and production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in the country.

"RDIF, GL Rapha, one of the leading South Korean bio-tech companies, and ISU ABXIS (a subsidiary of ISU GROUP) have signed an agreement for technology transfer and production of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus in Korea ... The pilot production of the vaccine at the facility of ISU ABXIS located in Yong-In is expected to begin at the end of April," RDIF said in a press release.

RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev qualified South Korea as a major partner for Sputnik V production and expressed hope to increase production facilities in the country.

"It is the first case of the consortium that officially signed a contract with RDIF along with the actual technology transfer and with continuous communication, ISU ABXIS, will do our best to settle the production technology and the sufficient supply of Sputnik V as soon as possible," ISU ABXIS Head of Business Development Soohyun Jeong said, as quoted in the press release.

05:54 GMT 15.04.2021
05:36 GMT 15.04.2021
05:32 GMT 15.04.2021
05:08 GMT 15.04.2021

 India has registered 200,739 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, marking the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, the national Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

The total number of those who tested positive for the coronavirus in India has reached 14,074,564, according to the ministry.

Within the same period of time, the death toll has risen by 1,038 to 173,123 people. More than 12.42 million patients have recovered since the start of the epidemic.

India comes second in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, following the United States with more than 31.42 million patients.

04:46 GMT 15.04.2021
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