18:49 GMT19 April 2021
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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (321)
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    The global death toll from the coronavirus infection topped 2.507 million; over 112.9 million cases of the infection were 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 (28.4 million infected, 508,000 deaths), India (11 million cases, 156,000 fatalities), and Brazil (10.3 million cases and a death toll of over 251,000).

    Europe is registering less than 1 million new COVID-19 cases for a second week in a row, but the transmission rate is still high, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said.

    Follow Sputnik’s feed to find out more.

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    • 18:50

      Trudeau Says Canada Secured 2Mln Doses of Indian Version of AstraZenaca Vaccine

      The Canadian government has secured 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine version produced by India’s Serum Institute, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

      Earlier in the day, Canadian health regulators authorized the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine along with the Serum Institute version of the vaccine.

      “Canada has secured two million doses of the Covishield vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India,” Trudeau told reporters.

      Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the first shipment of 500,000 vaccine doses will arrive in the "coming days." The remaining 1.5 million doses will arrive by mid-May, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.

    • 18:37

      Czech Gov't Approves New Month-Long State of Emergency Starting 27 Feb

    • 17:42

      Former British PM Theresa May Get First Dose of COVID Vaccine

    • 17:38

      US Navy Battling Covid-19 Outbreaks on 2 Warships in Middle East, Central Command Says

      The US Navy has isolated and is treating outbreaks of COVID-19 on two warships in the Middle East operating out of 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) announced on Friday.

      "US 5th Fleet took immediate actions to identify, isolate, test and treat affected Sailors and Marines aboard two ships," NAVCENT said in a statement.

      Currently, around 12 service members aboard the amphibious transport dock USS San Diego have tested positive for COVID-19 and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine also has identified several individuals who are now persons under investigation, the statement said.

      "San Diego is currently pierside in the Kingdom of Bahrain. All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the ship remains in a restricted COVID bubble. The port visit and medical support have been coordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health," NAVCENT said.

      The Philippine Sea is expected to pull into port to conduct further testing of all who have possibly been exposed however the port location will not be disclosed, in advance, due to operational security, the statement said.

    • 17:38

      Nigeria Secures Almost 40Mln Vaccine Doses Via COVAX 1st Delivery Due Next Week, WHO Says

      Nigeria has secured almost 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the World Health Organization-led COVAX international distribution initiative, with the first four million doses arriving next week, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO representative in Nigeria said on Friday.

      "WHO more recently supported the country [Nigeria] to develop its vaccine deployment and vaccination plan for COVID-19. It has been used to secure through the COVAX Facility close to 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and four million of which are expected next week," Mulombo said at a WHO press briefing, adding that Nigeria will join countries like Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to receive the vaccine within the first 100 days of this year.

      On Wednesday, Ghana received a shipment of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine thanks obtained via COVAX. Earlier in the day, 504,000 doses arrived in Cote d'Ivoire.

    • 17:17

      White House: Almost Half of Americans Over 65 Received First Dose of Coronavirus Vaccine

      The White House announced on Friday that about half of Americans over the age of 65 in the United States have received at list the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

      "Nearly half of Americans over 65 have received the first shot," White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Andy Slavitt told reporters during a press briefing.

      Slavitt noted that the Biden administration has opened over 400 new vaccination centres in almost 40 US states.

      "Any progress is a result of hard work of many people and entities," Slavitt said, noting the importance of public-private sector cooperation in the efforts to vaccinate the population.

      Asked to comment on some US states’ efforts to lift the strict restrictions imposed under the coronavirus pandemic, Slavitt warned against such moves being undertaken too fast.

    • 17:10

      UK Coronavirus Strain Accounts for Over Half COVID-19 Cases in Belgium, Health Authorities Say

      UK-linked coronavirus mutation is present in over half of COVID-19 cases across Belgium, which reported a slight increase in daily numbers of infections recently, Steven Van Gucht, head of viral diseases department at the national health institute Sciensano, said on Friday.

      "According to our data, more than 53 percent of infections last week were caused by the British variant," Van Gucht told a news conference.

      He noted that the rate stood at below 40 percent last week and specified that the surge in COVID-19 cases is observed simultaneously with a decrease in the numbers of conducted tests.

      The virologist explained that these indicators might mean either a more "aggressive" form of the disease or pervasive non-compliance with the health measures by the population.

      In a bid to tackle the pandemic, Belgium keeps in place such restrictions as a ban on non-essential trips outside the country, a mandatory remote work regime, closures of bars, restaurants, and other public places.

      To date, the health authorities have reported 763,885 COVID-19 infections with a death toll of 22,006.

    • 16:54

      Ecuador's Health Minister Resigns Amid Preferential Vaccination Scandal

      Ecuadoran Public Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos on Friday presented his resignation letter to President Lenin Moreno in the wake of social media criticism, accusing the official of providing coronavirus vaccines to high-placed individuals.

      According to El Comercio newspaper, the outgoing minister has been dealing with public opprobrium since January, when Zevallos revealed vaccinating his mother. After that, the minister refused to make public the list of officials who could receive a vaccine. There have also been reports about a football player and a journalist getting vaccinated.

      "Given the current situation and to allow the national vaccination plan to continue, I present to you, Mr. President, my irrevocable resignation from the position of the public health minister," Zevallos said in his resignation letter, posted by the president on Twitter.

      Zevallos is not the only Latin American minister who was forced to resign due to alleged vaccination-related abuses of power. In Peru, both the health and foreign ministers, Pilar Mazzetti and Elizabeth Astete, resigned amid uproar over preferential vaccination scandal earlier in the month. The same goes for Zevallos' Argentinian counterpart, Gines Gonzalez Garcia.

    • 16:50

      Canadian Health Official Says Review of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Almost Complete

      Review of the coronavirus vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, is nearly complete, Health Canada Chief Medical Advisor Supriya Sharma said on Friday.

      "With respect to Janssen, specifically, that review is progressing very well. We’re expecting to get some additional information on manufacturing today; but other than that, that file is pretty much complete," Sharma told reporters in Ottawa.

      Sharma said a regulatory decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as well as the Novavax candidate, would come down in line with other global health regulators.

      However, she dismissed assumptions that authorization for the vaccine would be granted in the coming days if such action is taken by US authorities.

      Reports in the United States suggest that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be approved there as early as this weekend.

      Sharma also provided an update on the regulatory approval process of the Novavax vaccine candidate, saying that Health Canada expects the producer to submit a significant amount of data before the end of April, a month ahead of schedule.

      Regulators have currently approved four vaccines for use in Canada, including the AstraZeneca vaccine and its Serum Institute of India version, which was authorized earlier on Friday.

    • 16:41

      Italy Reports Over 20,000 New COVID Cases, 253 New Deaths in 24 Hours

    • 15:49

      Estonia Out of Vaccines as COVID-19 Pandemic Rages, Official Says

      Estonia has run out of coronavirus vaccines just as the infection rate has picked up and the shortage of beds put an extra strain on hospitals, Estonian Health Board chief Ullar Lanno stated on Friday.

      "Vaccines stocks with the Health Board are now at zero. There is no reason to suggest that they are being held up somewhere. The Health Board is not delaying things, there is zero in storage," the ERR news broadcaster cited Lanno as saying.

      Estonia is part of the EU-wide vaccine procurement program, so far having received shipments of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

      "The amount of AstraZeneca vaccines left in storage is zero, Pfizer - 1%, Moderna - only a couple thousand doses," he said.

      Earlier in the week Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik announced a one-week delay in the shipment of a new batch of AstraZeneca vaccines.

      On Thursday, it was reported that Estonia's 14-day average number of confirmed cases was 850.81 per 100,000 people, making the country's infection rate second highest in Europe after the Czech Republic. For the past two days, Estonia has registered record numbers of new COVID-19 cases, 1,154 on Thursday and 1,204 on Friday.

    • 15:07

      Belarus Plans to Start Industrial Production of Sputnik V Vaccine in Late March, Minister 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.

      Belarus Plans to Start Industrial Production of Sputnik V Vaccine in Late March, Minister Says

      MINSK (Sputnik) - Belarus plans to launch industrial production of Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in late March, Health Minister Dmitry Pinevich said on Friday.
      Read more
    • 14:36

      Argentinian Government Announces That Russia's Sputnik V Will Be Produced in Country

        Russia Coronavirus Vaccine

      Argentinian Government Announces That Russia's Sputnik V Will Be Produced in Country

      BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - The Argentinian government announced on Friday that it will be manufacturing Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine following a deal signed between the representative of Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and Argentina's pharmaceutical company Laboratorios Richmond and India's Hetero Labs Limited.
      Read more
    • 14:22

      Russia Ready to Work on Initiative for Global COVID-19 Vaccination, Foreign Ministry Says

      View of the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia from the observation deck on Vorobyovy Hills in Moscow

      Russia Ready to Work on Initiative for Global COVID-19 Vaccination, Foreign Ministry Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia is ready to cooperate on creation and implementation of a global COVID-19 immunization plan as proposed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
      Read more
    • 14:04

      Dodon Says Moldova Registered Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V

      Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the city hospital Leninskaya CRH in the city of Leninsk.

      Dodon Says Moldova Registered Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Former Moldovan President Igor Dodon said on Friday that the country registered Sputnik V, a Russian vaccine against COVID-19.
      Read more
    • 10:11

      Emmanuel Macron Says He Would Take Oxford Vaccine but not Until Next Year

    • 07:20

      South Korea to Extend Current Social Distancing Measures for 2 Weeks

      South Korea will extend its current social distancing measures for another two weeks over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Friday.

      "The government will decide to extend the current distancing levels for another two weeks starting next week during today's meeting," the prime minister said, as quoted by Yonhap news agency.

      On 15 February, the South Korean government lowered social distancing across the country by one level, while maintaining a ban on gatherings of five or more people. In the metropolitan area, level 2 of social distancing is currently in place, while level 1.5 is in place in the rest of the country. The measures were supposed to end on 28 February, however the authorities decided to extend them. The government previously said it could either increase, prolong or weaken the level of social distancing after 28 February.

      According to Chung, restrictions on small businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, will also remain in place for another two weeks.

      South Korea has confirmed nearly 89,000 COVID-19 cases so far, with over 1,500 fatalities.

    • 07:19

      Moscow Authority Refutes Rumors of Forced Vacation for Doctors Over UK COVID-19 Strain

      The Moscow Healthcare Department refuted on Friday, in its comment for Sputnik, rumors that doctors are forced to take vacation in order to return to work by April, when the UK strain of the coronavirus is allegedly expected to start spreading in the city.

      Russia's Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing sources close to the Moscow government, that the authorities expect the UK strain of the coronavirus to start spreading in the Russian capital in April. The sources claimed that doctors were forced to take vacation right now, in order to return to work in time and tackle the anticipated increase in new cases.

      "Medical staffers go on vacation in line with the schedule, which is approved annually by heads of medical organizations," the healthcare department said.

      "Moscow has a sufficient number of beds for coronavirus patients. Hospitals and reserve hospitals are provided with the necessary equipment and medical personnel, doctors have gained vast experience during the fight against COVID. Moreover, the positive dynamics in the epidemiological situation allows us to withdraw specialized hospitals from work with the coronavirus," the department went on to say.

      The immunization campaign is gaining momentum, with almost 600,000 Moscow residents who have already been inoculated, the healthcare authority noted.

    • 07:12

      Vietnam to Register Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V for Emergency Use

      Vietnam plans to approve the emergency use of Sputnik V, a Russian vaccine against COVID-19, the Vietnamese state news agency VNA reported on Friday, citing the country’s health ministry.

      According to the VNA, the ministry’s advisory committee on the registration of medicines has recommended approving Sputnik V for emergency use in Vietnam. At the same time, the committee also recommended approving the emergency use of a vaccine developed by US company Moderna. Such recommendations are required for the registration of vaccines in the country.

      Moreover, Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long on Friday confirmed plans to import COVID-19 vaccines from Russia.

      Vietnamese authorities aim to vaccinate the majority of the population against COVID-19 in 2021 and expect the arrival of over 1.3 million vaccine doses as early as in the first quarter of the year.

      The country has already approved AstaZeneca’s vaccine for emergency use.

      Vietnam has so far confirmed over 2,400 COVID-19 cases, including more than 1,800 recoveries and 35 related fatalities.

    • 06:28

      US FDA Allows Transportation, Storage of Pfizer Vaccine at Ordinary Pharma Freezers

      The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it is possible to transport and store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at conventional temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers.

      The manufacturers of the vaccine previously required storage temperatures from 76 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. This requirement posed a serious challenge to distribution, especially among less developed nations without the cold chain infrastructure.

      "Today [on Thursday], the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it is allowing undiluted frozen vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be transported and stored at conventional temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers for a period of up to two weeks," the FDA said.

      According to the agency, the new storage conditions have become possible due to additional information provided by Pfizer. The alternative temperature for transportation and storage is expected to ease the burden of procuring ultra-low cold storage equipment for vaccination sites and should increase the distribution of the vaccine.

    • 06:04

      Vietnam Begins Phase 2 Trials of Home-Produced NanoCovax Vaccine

      Vietnam proceeds on Friday to the second phase of trials of its home-produced NanoCovax vaccine against the coronavirus, the governmental online portal reported, citing the health ministry.

      The trials involving volunteers are held at the defense ministry's medical academy.

      NanoCovax was developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies company. The Vietnamese medical sciences academy's vaccine institute; the state company for vaccine and biomaterials production; and the center for immunizing vaccines are all working on their own vaccines against COVID-19.

      The Vietnamese government plans to inoculate the majority of the population with domestic, and Russian, UK and US vaccines by the end of 2021.

      According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, 2,412 people have contracted the coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic. A total of 1,804 people have recovered, and the death toll totals 35.

    • 05:23

      Germany Registers 9,997 New COVID-19 Cases

    • 04:35

      Number of COVID-19 Cases in India Rises by 16,577 Over Past 24 Hours

      India has confirmed 16,577 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of those infected having reached 11,063,491, the country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday.

      The death toll from the disease has reached 156,825 people, with 120 new fatalities being recorded over the past day. More than 10.75 million people have recovered in India since the start of the outbreak.

      A day earlier, the country registered 16,738 new COVID-19 cases and 138 deaths.

      India comes second in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, following the United States, with more than 28.41 million COVID-19 patients.

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