02:21 GMT20 April 2021
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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (321)

    The global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 2.865 million; over 132.1 million cases of the infection have been detected so far, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from national and local authorities, the media and other sources.

    The United States, India, and Brazil are the worst-hit in terms of the number of registered coronavirus cases; the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths has been observed in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and India, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    The United States is on the brink of another COVID-19 surge despite leading the world in vaccinations against the virus, top US pandemics expert Anthony Fauci has warned.

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    • 03:54

      EU Should Purchase Sputnik V After Relevant EMA Checks – Former Head of EU Commission

      VIENNA (Sputnik) – The European Union should buy Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus after relevant checks conducted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), former head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker told Austria's ORF broadcaster.

      The EU Medicines Agency started a rolling procedure on the Sputnik V vaccine on March 4. Some EU countries, such as Hungary and Slovakia, approved the Russian vaccine on a national level.

      "When the EMA checks Sputnik V, we should purchase this vaccine. The virus is beyond the borders. The origin of the vaccine does not matter and if the drug is effective, it should be used when becomes available," Juncker said on Wednesday.

      Sputnik V has been allowed for emergency use in about 60 countries with a total population of more than 1.5 billion people.

    • 03:53

      Spain to Only Use AstraZeneca Vaccine for People Over 60 - Health Ministry

      MADRID/MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Spanish Ministry of Health has decided to use the UK-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) only to inoculate citizens over 60, Health Minister Carolina Darias said.

      Up until now, AstraZeneca in Spain has been received by patients under 65, A total of 2.1 million have already received the vaccine, of which only 97 have received two shots. What will happen to patients who received one dose has not yet been decided. The vaccine has so far been distributed among police officers, teachers, firefighters, emergency workers, and patients between the ages of 56 and 65.

      "Based on information available today and in preventive measures, it is recommended to use the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 60 years old," the minister said at a press conference following a meeting of the inter-territorial council of the national health system, adding that there was no upper age limit.

      The European Medicines Agency (EMA) came up with a long-awaited evaluation of the AstraZeneca vaccine's safety on Wednesday, recommending that blood clots be listed as a "very rare" side effect. The EU regulator still insists that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The EMA stressed that it was important to keep using all available vaccines.

    • 03:52

      Indian Prime Minister Says Got 2nd Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

      NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that he had received the second dose of vaccine against the coronavirus.

      The prime minister got his first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 on March 1, when the second stage of mass vaccination began in India. He reportedly received the Covaxin drug developed by Bharat Biotech International Limited.

      "Got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS today. Vaccination is among the few ways we have, to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon," Modi wrote on his Twitter page.

    • 02:47

      New Zealand Imposes Temporary Ban on Entry For Travellers from India - PM Jacinda Ardern

      New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern noted on Thursday that the country is focusing on new coronavirus cases at the border, reported earlier.

      "Cases of the virus have been on the rise internationally ... with surges particularly in Brazil and India... We are starting to see this global trend mirrored here," she said while adressing government's latest efforts regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

      According to New Zealand director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield, a border worker has been tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, along with 23 people in managed isolation, 17 of which had arrived from India.

      Earlier this week, the country removed travel restrictions with Australia from 19 April.

    • 01:37

      Russia's EpiVacCorona Drug Fully Suitable for Re-Vaccination Against COVID-19 – Developer

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia's EpiVacCorona vaccine is fully suitable for the re-vaccination against COVID-19, the director of the Vector research institute that developed the drug told Sputnik.

      "The EpiVacCorona vaccine is fully suitable for the re-vaccination," Rinat Maksyutov said.

      EpiVacCorona is an antigens-based vaccine that was registered by the Russian government on October 13 and is underway with phase 3 clinical trials.

      The drug is one of the three vaccines against the coronavirus developed in Russia, along with Sputnik V of Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and CoviVac of the Chumakov research institute.

    • 00:14

      All Puerto Ricans Over 16 Eligible for Vaccinations Starting April 12 - Governor

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Puerto Rico has made all residents over 16 years of age eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines as of April 12, the US territory's governor, Pedro Pierluisi, said in his first State of the Government Address.

      "I am pleased to announce that, given the sustained increase in the allocation of vaccines to Puerto Rico and the capacity shown by the Department of Health, together with its providers and the National Guard, as of next Monday, April 12, all residents of Puerto Rico over 16 years of age who wants to be vaccinated can make their appointment and receive their vaccination," the governor said as quoted by the San Juan-based Weekly Journal on Wednesday.

      Pierluisi also issued an executive order further tightening coronavirus-related mitigation measures due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

      More than one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed in Puerto Rico, the report said.

    • 23:17

      Number of People Who Died After Getting COVID-19 Vaccine in Austria Stands at 63 – Agency

      VIENNA (Sputnik) – The number of people, who had died after getting a vaccine against the coronavirus in Austria between December 27 and April 2, has reached 63, the Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care said.

      Last week, the body reported about 55 deaths registered after the vaccination against the coronavirus.

      "The Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care has received reports about 63 fatalities soon after the vaccination against COVID-19 (57 with the BioNTech/Pfizer drug, 3 with Moderna and 3 with AstraZeneca," the agency said in a report on Wednesday.

      In four cases, autopsy ruled out the link between the death and the vaccine, 16 deceased people received a vaccine during the incubation period of COVID-19 that turned out fatal for them. In 23 cases, the vaccinated people had serious diseases that are thought to have caused the death, 20 more cases are being currently studied. To sum up, no link between the vaccines and the recorded fatalities has been confirmed.

      At the same time,  the federal office reported about 18,063 cases of adverse effects following the vaccination.

    • 23:16

      Turkey Registers Record Number of New COVID-19 Cases, Fatalities Over Past Day – Ministry

      ANKARA (Sputnik) – Turkey has registered the record number of new COVID-19 cases and fatalities within the past 24 hours, the national Ministry of Health said.

      "Today, we have confirmed 54,740 new COVID-19 cases, 2,203 patients have been hospitalized. The death toll has risen by 276 to 32,943. 2,604 patients are in critical condition," the ministry said on late Wednesday.

      Om March 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduced a curfew from 9:00 p.m. (18:00 GMT) Friday to 5:00 a.m. (02:00 GMT) Monday over the rising number of the new coronavirus cases.

      The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. To date, more than 132.77 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 2.88 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    • 23:14

      Argentina Registers Record 22,039 New COVID-19 Cases Over Past 24 Hours – Health Ministry

      BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) – Argentina has registered 22,039 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.

      The death toll has risen by 199 to 56,832 people within the same period of time, according to the ministry.

      The total number of those who tested positive for COVID-16 in Argentina has reached 2,450,068, while the number of recoveries stands at 2,174,625.

      The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. To date, more than 132.77 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 2.88 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    • 21:18

      US State of Alabama Ends Coronavirus Facemask Mandate - Governor

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued an executive order ending the facemask mandate in the state given the increased rate of coronavirus vaccination and the decreased number of hospitalizations and virus-related deaths.

      "Although COVID-19 remains a serious public health threat, I find that a new approach to COVID-19 mitigation is warranted based on rising vaccination rates, decreased confirmed cases of COVID-19 and decreasing numbers of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to this virus," Ivy said in an executive order on Wednesday evening.

      An accompanying press release said, "Masks will no longer be mandated statewide," but it added that people are strongly encouraged to keep covering their faces when in public or in close contact with others.

      As of Monday, the seven-day average for new cases was 328 per day, a 92 percent drop since January 10, and the lowest average since last spring, local media reported.

    • 21:02

      Chilean Regulator Greenlights China's CanSino COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

      BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - The Chilean drug regulator has approved the use of China's CanSino coronavirus vaccine for emergency use following trials in the Latin American country, the Chilean Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

      "The Public Health Institute has authorized the emergency use of the CanSino vaccine in Chile," the ministry said in a statement.

      Last week, Chile signed a deal for the delivery of 1.8 million doses of the CanSino coronavirus vaccine scheduled to arrive in May-June. The country has tested the one-shot vaccine on 3,500 volunteers. According to the research, people develop immunity to coronavirus on the fourth week after receiving the shot.

      The mass immunization campaign in Chile was launched in early February, with people receiving vaccines produced by Sinovac, another Chinese company, and Pfizer. The country also expects deliveries of AstraZeneca and Russia's Sputnik V. Chile is part of the international COVAX project.

    • 21:01

      Italian Minister Advises to Use AstraZeneca Vaccine Among People Aged Over 60 - Official

      ROME (Sputnik) - Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has decided to recommend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine among people aged over 60 years following consultations with experts, Franco Locatelli, the head of Italy's Superior Health Council, said on Wednesday.

      Italy is the latest among a number of countries, along with South Korea, Belgium and the United Kingdom, that decided on Wednesday to limit the AstraZeneca vaccine's rollout to older population. The decisions came in light of the European Medicines Agency's long-awaited evaluation of the vaccine's safety, which concluded that that blood clots should be listed as a "very rare" side effect.

      "In light of the conclusions by EMA and to protect the most at-risk groups, the minister has made a recommendation on the preferred use [of the AstraZeneca vaccine] among people aged over 60 years," Locatelli told reporters.

      The official also noted that severe side effect cases following the inoculation, such as blood clots, were extremely rare and occurred mainly in women aged under 60 during the first two weeks after the vaccination.

      Additionally, Locatelli said that Italian experts had carefully studied whether vaccination with AstraZeneca should be limited to a single dose and found no reason to advocate it.

    • 20:19

      Ecuador to Introduce Mandatory Quarantine for All Arrivals From Brazil - Aviation Agency

      BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - Ecuador will introduce a mandatory 10-day quarantine for those arriving from Brazil starting from April 8 in light of the spread of new coronavirus variants, Ecuador's Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Wednesday.

      "Starting from Thursday, April 8, from 23:59 [local time, 04:59 GMT on Friday], all passengers who arrive or who have had a transfer in Brazil will have to undergo a mandatory quarantine for 10 days in hotels provided for this [purpose]," the agency said in a statement.

      The arrivals will be subject to a quarantine regardless of their coronavirus test result, the authority added.

      So far, the Latin American country has registered as many as 339,604 cases of the coronavirus, including 290,314 recoveries and 12,158 fatalities.

    • 19:57

      Tunisia Ready to Take Part in Producing Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V - Official

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Tunisia is ready to participate in the production of Russia's Sputnik V since the coronavirus vaccine is in demand in the North African country, Director of the Tunisian National Observatory for New and Emergent Diseases Nissaf Ben Alaya said on Wednesday.

      According to Alaya, who is currently paying a visit to Russia along with other high-ranking Tunisian officials, Tunisia managed to overcome mistrust of citizens to vaccination and seek to inoculate as many people as possible.

      "We are also ready to participate in the production of vaccines. I would like you to take this issue into account so that we can establish a center, laboratories for producing vaccines. We would like to be your partners in the vaccine production," Alaya said at a press conference.

      The official also noted that Tunisia had asked Russia to send additional doses of Sputnik V, as the vaccine is well received by the country's citizens.

      "We have a lot of those wishing to get inoculated," Alaya added.

      Russia's Sputnik V has since been approved in 59 countries, becoming the second top vaccine in terms of approvals across the world. According to The Lancet peer-reviewed medical journal, it has 91.6-percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 cases.

    • 19:14

      Canada's Ontario Province to Begin 4-Week COVID-19 Emergency on Thursday – Premier

      TORONTO (Sputnik) - The Canadian province of Ontario is declaring a state of emergency and introducing a stay-at-home order effective Thursday amid a surge in coronavirus variant cases, Premier Doug Ford announced on Wednesday.

      "I am declaring a state of emergency with a province-wide stay-at-home order effective 12:01 a.m. [4:01 a.m. GMT] Thursday. This will be in effect for four weeks," Ford told reporters.

    • 18:37

      AstraZeneca Says Trying to Understand Causes of Blood Clots After Use of Its Vaccine

      UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said on Wednesday it was working to establish the causes of blood clots after vaccination against coronavirus with its drug, but emphasized that these were very rare cases.

      Earlier in the day, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recommended that people under 30 years of age not be vaccinated with AstraZeneca if possible due to rare cases of blood clots. Also on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it admitted that the AstraZeneca vaccine could be linked to blood clots, which should be listed as a rare side effect of the drug.

      AstraZeneca also said it was actively working with regulators to amend the description of the drug and is already working to understand the existing cases, epidemiology and possible mechanisms that explain these extremely rare cases.

    • 18:31

      Sputnik V Developers Ask Media to Follow Official Statements About Vaccine to Avoid Spreading Incorrect Info

      Vial labelled Sputnik V coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine placed on displayed Sputnik V logo is seen in this illustration picture taken March 24, 2021.

      Sputnik V Developers Dismiss FT Report About EMA's Probe of Ethical Standards as Fake News

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The developers of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V dismissed the Financial Times' report that the European regulator would allegedly check the vaccine's compliance with ethical and scientific standards during the testing of the Russian vaccine amid some "fears" as fake news, the vaccine's Twitter account says.
      Read more
    • 18:20

      Kurz Says Buying Russian COVID Vaccine 'Would Help Austria a Lot'

      In this handout photo released by Russian Healthcare Ministry, packs with the world's first vaccine against COVID-19 registered in Russia are pictured, in Moscow, Russia

      Austria May Independently Approve Sputnik V Vaccine If EU Approval Drags on, Kurz Says

      VIENNA (Sputnik) - Austria could register Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V on the national level if the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) approval process drags on, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 18:02

      Belgium to Halt Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine in People Under Age 56 for One Month, Reports Say

      Belgium's federal and regional health authorities have agreed to suspend the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine among people aged 56 and younger for four weeks over side effect concerns, the Belgian-based RTL broadcaster reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

      Though the link between the vaccine and cases of severe blood clotting has not yet been confirmed, Belgium will continue administering AstraZeneca shots only to senior citizens, according to the report.

      The broadcaster did not specify the exact date when the measure is expected to take effect.

      The European Medicines Agency (EMA) came up with a long-awaited evaluation of the AstraZeneca vaccine's safety earlier on Wednesday, recommending that blood clots be listed as a "very rare" side effect. The EU regulator still insists that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The EMA stressed that it was important to keep using all available vaccines.

    • 16:22

      US Navy Sets Goal of 100% COVID-19 Vaccinations of Crews on All Ships

      The US Navy, with over a third of sailors now vaccinated against COVID-19, wants to deploy ships with entire crews inoculated against the potentially deadly disease, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Wednesday.

      “Right now about 35 percent of the force is vaccinated. As soon as we get those doses, we are putting it into arms as quickly as we can,” Gilday told reporters in a virtual interview conducted by the Center for New American Security. “I’d like to get every ship underway with 100 percent immunized crews.”

      Gilday added that some deployed ships now underway can boast vaccination rates of up to 98 percent.

      For now, the Navy has achieved a COVID-19 positivity rate of less than a quarter of 1 percent, primarily by using mitigation measures such as facemasks and social distancing, Gilday said.

    • 15:46

      Canada's Vaccine Advisory Board Upholds 4-Month Interval Between Shots Amid Dose Shortage

      Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) on Wednesday upheld the health regulator’s decision to allow up to four months between two coronavirus vaccination shots amid an enduring shortage of available doses.

      “NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply and ongoing pandemic disease, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first,” the advisory panel said in a statement.

      NACI recommended that second dose shots be offered as soon as possible after all eligible groups have received their first dose, with priority being given to the most vulnerable populations.

      The advisory panel also said it will continue to monitor developments and adjust recommendations as needed.

      The recommendation sparked heated debate in the medical community, with one top expert saying that officials are conducting nothing less than a "population-level experiment."

      Numerous international medical officials have suggested the authorities should adhere to the manufacturers’ recommended timelines between shots - 21 days for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28 for the Moderna vaccine.

    • 15:45

      Japan Reportedly Mulls Vaccinating Olympic Athletes Ahead of Schedule

      The Japanese government is weighing whether to move Olympic athletes to the front of the COVID-19 vaccination line, the Kyodo news agency cited an official in the know as saying Wednesday.

      The official reportedly said that the talks had just started. The government is uncertain about whether all athletes should be immunized and what reaction this will get from the public.

      Japan began rolling out vaccines in February but was delayed by a supply shortage. The country has vaccinated health workers and will move on to people aged 65 and over on Monday, followed by those with severe underlying conditions.

      If the government allows prioritizing athletes, they will likely receive the first dose before senior citizens are vaccinated and will get the second shot by late June, the news agency said. The Tokyo Olympics kick off on July 23.

      Infection figures have been rising in parts of Japan. The Osaka prefecture said on Wednesday that its leg of the Olympic torch relay will be confined to a park, with no spectators allowed.

    • 15:27

      US Initiates Study of Allergic Reactions to Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines, Health Agency Says

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on Wednesday that it is conducting a study of the possible allergic reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines.

      "A clinical trial is underway to determine whether people who are highly allergic or have a mast cell disorder are at increased risk for an immediate, systemic allergic reaction to the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines," the NIH said in a press release.

      The researchers will also examine the biological mechanism behind the reactions and whether a genetic pattern or other factors can predict who are at most risk, the release said.

      The NIH explained that researchers will look for a systemic allergic reaction in one or more parts of the body beyond the injection site within 90 minutes after administering either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

      About two-thirds out of 3,400 participants will be female because severe allergic reactions to vaccines in general have occurred mainly in women, the release noted.

      A mast cell disorder is a disease caused by a type of white blood cell called a mast cell that is abnormal, overly active, or both, predisposing a person to life-threatening reactions that look like allergic reactions.

      The study results are expected to be published in late summer, according to the release.

    • 14:12

      UK Regulator Recommends Other Vaccines Than AstraZeneca for Under-30s

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The UK government's joint committee on vaccination recommended on Wednesday that people under 30 be offered an alternative to AstraZeneca amid concerns that the anti-coronavirus vaccine may cause rare blood clots in younger people.

      "Adults who are aged 18 to 29 years old who do not have an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk from serious COVID-19 disease, should be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine in preference to the AstraZeneca vaccine where such an alternative vaccine is available," Wei Shen Lim, the committee's chair, said.

      Those who have had their first dose of AstraZeneca should still have the second dose of the UK-Swedish drug according to the vaccination schedule, he added.

    • 13:56

      EMA to Restrict AstraZeneca Use to Over-60s, Dutch Health Minister Says

      The European Medicines Agency will recommend on Wednesday that the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus be only used in people aged 60 and older, the Dutch health minister said.

      The EU drug agency is expected to hold a press conference following a weeks-long inquiry into a possible link between the shot and blood clotting in vaccinated people under 60.

      "The EMA will issue that advice for people under the age of 60 today," Hugo de Jonge wrote on Facebook.

      The Netherlands has paused the use of AstraZeneca in younger patients pending the results of the EMA investigation, which was called after several people under 60 died from rare blood clots in the brain.

    • 13:55

      South Korean Regulator Authorizes Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use Among Adults

      The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Wednesday approved the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Belgian firm Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of Johnson & Johnson, for emergency use among those aged over 18.

      Janssen's one-shot regimen became the third vaccine to be approved in the Asian country, along with those developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The approval comes as South Korea suspends the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine among citizens under the age of 60 because of concerns about severe side effects.

      "The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has authorized [the use of] Janssen's COVID-19 vaccine by the Janssen Korea company through a request process after rigorous safety and efficacy checks," the ministry's head, Kim Ganglip, said at a briefing.

      The Janssen vaccine has shown 66.9 percent efficacy at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 in clinical trials. South Korea has arranged with the pharmaceutical company to receive six million doses of the vaccine, with the deliveries scheduled to start in the second quarter of the year.

    • 13:08

      US Disburses $36Bln in 4th Tranche of COVID-19 Relief Payments

       Twenty-five million payments worth $36 billion headed to American households in the fourth round of COVID-19 relief under the American Rescue Plan, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

      “Today’s announcement brings the total disbursed so far to more than 156 million payments, with a total value of approximately $372 billion, since these payments began rolling out to Americans in batches, as announced on 12 March,” the Treasury said in a press release.

      The fourth batch of payments began processing on Friday, 2 April, with an official payment date of 7 April, the release said.

      The American Rescue plan provides direct payments to households of $1,400 per adult and $1,400 for each child.

    • 12:34

      More Than 90 Percent of Swedes Ready For Vaccination Against COVID-19, Study Suggests

      More than 90 percent of Sweden's population are ready to get inoculation against COVID-19 as soon as they get a chance to do it, a survey by the Swedish Public Health Agency showed Wednesday.

      According to the research, which was referenced by a Swedish website Local, referring to 91 percent of respondents would get a vaccine either "definitely" or "probably". Only five percent mentioned that they would not be inoculated while four percent have not decided yet whether they should get a vaccine or not. Elderly people expressed more willingness to get inoculated than young people.

      The survey said that the main reason why people want to receive a vaccine shot is to protect their own health and others.

      The survey was conducted in from March 11-22 among 3,000 people.

      According to Local, more than 1.2 million people have so far got at least one dose of vaccine, 540,288 have received the both shots.

    • 12:33

      Elderly Woman Dies in Australia After Inoculated With Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine, Reports Say

      An 82-year-old woman died in a nursing home in Australia's Queensland state hours after receiving a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, Sky News Australia reported on Wednesday, citing police.

      The link between the vaccine and the fatality has not yet been confirmed, as the deceased suffered from underlying health conditions, including a lung disease, according to the report.

      In addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Australia has also authorized the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. The latest official data on vaccination rates in Australia show that over 840,000 people have received vaccine shots.

      As of Wednesday, the Australian health authorities have confirmed a total of 29,379 COVID-19 cases and 909 related fatalities.

    • 11:45

      Bavarian Authorities Sign Preliminary Contract With Local Firm for Sputnik V Vaccine Deliveries

      Markus Soeder, the federal state prime minister of Bavaria, said on Wednesday that the authorities of the German state prepared a preliminary contract with a local firm that may supply the region with doses of Sputnik V, a Russian vaccine against COVID-19, upon its registration in the European Union.

      "We have prepared a preliminary contract, which will be signed later with the company in Illertissen. We are talking about the supply of Sputnik [V]. If Sputnik is registered in Europe, then Bavaria with the help of this company in Illertissen will receive additional doses," Soeder said during a press conference.

    • 11:29

      Pakistan Wants to Purchase 5Mln Doses of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine

      Pakistan is interested in purchasing 5 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus and also wants to discuss potential local production, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday.

      "The Sputnik vaccine was registered in Pakistan and is being applied in Pakistan, it is giving good results, and we are interested in commercial purchase of 5 million doses from Russia ... and I think there are opportunities of local production and joint ventures. There are interested parties," Qureshi said at a press conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

      According to Lavrov, Russia has so far delivered 50,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine to Pakistan and 150,000 doses of the vaccine will be delivered in the near future.

      Lavrov, on his part, noted that Pakistan's needs in the vaccine are greater than the volume of the deliveries, and therefore "it is all about the ability to produce this vaccine not only in Russia but also in the countries that are our foreign partners."

      "Such production has already begun in India, and now it is being launched in South Korea, Belarus and in a number of other countries. Of course, we will be ready to try to help our Pakistani colleagues as much as we can to meet their needs, but here again we have obligations to those countries that had asked us to do so in advance," the Russian minister added.

      During the talks, the two ministers discussed bilateral cooperation in various areas, in particular in the energy sector and railroad modernization.

      "We have a new area of cooperation related to energy between Rosatom and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. We are now discussing, in practical terms, specific cooperation on non-electric peaceful applications for nuclear energy, particularly in medicine and industry," Lavrov said.

      Qureshi noted that they also discussed an opportunity for Pakistan to get a Russian expertise in modernizing Pakistani energy and railways sectors.

      The minister concluded that Pakistan is interested in building strong, comprehensive relations with Russia based on trust and friendship.

    • 11:21

      South Korea Suspends Vaccination With AstraZeneca

      South Korea will suspend the ongoing AstraZeneca vaccination for citizens aged less that 60 years amid reports of thrombosis cases, and will also postpone inoculation for education facilities staffers, which was due to start this week, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Wednesday.

      "Vaccination of employees of special and children education institutions, school health workers, and those working in care homes for disabled people and kindergartens will be postponed. The ongoing vaccination with AstraZeneca for people under the age of 60 is temporarily suspended," the KDCA said in a statement.

      "This is a proactive measure, taking into consideration that the safety of those being vaccinated against COVID-19 is our priority," KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong said.

      Quite many countries have already suspended vaccination with AstraZeneca due to the reported thromboembolic complications in those vaccinated. The European regulator is investigating the incidents,

    • 10:54

      Spain's Castile And Leon Region Suspends Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine Amid Blood Clot Fears

      Spain's autonomous community Castile and Leon has suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 pending a final decision by the European regulator, the regional health service said on Wednesday.

      According to the service, the move has preventive purposes as the authorities wait for "a safety report expected to be prepared by the Pharmaco-vigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which convenes today, and decisions on the issue that could soon be made by the EU executive bodies and Spanish National Health System."

      Last month, several European nations suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in their immunization programs after multiple reports about patients experiencing severe reactions, including blood clots, after receiving the drug.

      However, some countries have since resumed the use of the vaccine on the recommendation of the EMA.

      A risk assessment committee at the EMA confirmed to Sputnik on Tuesday that the investigation into a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and cases of severe blood clotting is ongoing, but the results are expected to be announced within the next two days.

    • 10:36

      Germany to Face Disruptions in Supply of About 900,000 Doses of Moderna Vaccine, Reports Say

      Germany may not receive a batch of almost 900,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine from the US manufacturer Moderna, Business Insider reported on Wednesday, citing government sources.

      According to the news portal, Berlin was set to get a shipment of 627,600 to 878,400 Moderna vaccines from April 26 to May 2, but the order will "apparently" not be delivered to the country. Already faced with a shortfall in AstraZeneca vaccine supplies, Germany intends to increase orders from BioNTech, though some vaccination appointments will have to be canceled in the meantime.

      "We barely have any stockpiles left and, additionally, we have a lot of vaccination appointments booked for the coming weeks, so the situation will be challenging," a government official was cited as saying by Business Insider.

      The exact causes of the supply disruption are unknown, but Moderna deliveries are "very often" planned for the short term, and delays can be tracked back all the way to March, the news stated.

      On Saturday, the national government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel had wanted to introduce a strict lockdown during the Easter holidays, but the plans were revised after public backlash and calls for a vote of no-confidence in the cabinet.

      As of the beginning of April, the country reported over 2.87 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll reaching 77,000.

    • 10:03

      Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Orders Total Ban on Political Gatherings Until 30 April

    • 09:30

      Japan's Osaka Imposes State of Emergency Due to Spike in COVID-19 Cases

      Japan's Osaka prefecture has decided to declare a state of emergency due to the spike of COVID-10 cases exacerbated by the high occupancy rate in hospitals, governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said on Wednesday.

      "Medical facilities are in a critical situation. I want to ask for urgent actions for medical workers," Yoshimura said during the press conference as quoted by Kyodo News Agency.

      Beginning from Thursday, people are not allowed to walk outside without strong necessity.

      Yoshimura added that he will not allow torchbearers of the Tokyo Olympics relay to run across the prefecture, mentioning that he has already informed the organizing committee on his decision.

      On Tuesday, the prefecture registered record 719 COVID-19 cases a day. The occupancy of hospital beds for patients in serious condition was 66.5 percent with 70 percent being the critical rate.

    • 09:29

      Indonesia Plans to Reopen Border for Tourists From China, Netherlands, Poland, Reports Say

      Indonesia could open its border for tourists arriving from China, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands and other countries, media reported citing Tourism Minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno on Wednesday.

      The minister told the Straits Times newspaper that Indonesia plans to introduce new 60-day tourist visas limiting travel only to a chosen area.

      According to the minister, people entering Indonesia could be asked to present negative swab test results done before the flight and on arrival. Tourists could also need to install mobile applications that let the authorities trace them and conduct tests if necessary.

      He added that it is likely that entry for tourists would be limited. For example, Bali will accept no more than two flights a day as part of the pilot program.

      Indonesia has so far registered more than 1.54 million COVID-19 cases, more than 1.39 million people were cured, and 41,977 died of the disease.

    • 08:50

      Haitian Government Refuses AstraZeneca Vaccine From COVAX Amid Global Distrust, Reports Say

      Haitian authorities have turned down offer of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, which it was eligible to receive through the WHO-led COVAX mechanism, over widespread concerns about adverse effects from the drug, the Efe news agency reported, citing a government source.

      COVAX was established last year with GAVI, an alliance of vaccine partners, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and is designed to distribute up to 2 billion shots of COVID-19 vaccines with priority given to poorer states.

      Reporting late on Tuesday, the media outlet stated that Haiti was among the world's several remaining countries that have not so far launched a mass vaccination campaign.

      The source, who requested anonymity, told the agency that the international dismay over the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine was the reason behind the Haitian government's refusal to use the drug. Besides, the government also envisioned that Haitians would not accept the vaccine.

      Last month, several European nations suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in their immunization programs after multiple reports about patients experiencing severe reactions, including blood clots, after receiving the drug.

      However, some countries have since resumed the use of the vaccine on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which said it found no evidence that AstraZeneca shots could be linked to higher risks of thromboembolic complications.

      Nonetheless, earlier this week Marco Cavaleri, EMA head of health threats and vaccines strategy, confirmed that the apparent link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots is being investigated.

    • 08:12

      Russia Registers 8,294 COVID-19 Cases in Past 24 Hours

      Russia registered 8,294 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, down from 8,328 the day before, taking the overall tally to 4,606,162 , the coronavirus response centre said on Wednesday.

      "Over the past day, 8,294 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 84 Russian regions, including 1,037 cases (12.5 percent) without clinical symptoms," the centre said.

      The rate of increase stands at 0.18 percent.

      Moscow confirmed 1,585 new coronavirus cases over the given period, down from 1,747 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 705 new cases, up from 702 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 570 new cases, up from 533 on Tuesday.

      No new cases were registered in the Nenets Autonomous Region.

      The response centre reported 374 COVID-19 fatalities, down from 389 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 101,480.

      Total recoveries increased by 9,445 over the given period, up from 8,902 the day before, and reached 4,229,480.

    • 08:06

      Russia's EpiVacCorona Vaccine Develops Antibodies in 94% of Senior Citizens

      A view shows packages of Russian coronavirus vaccine EpiVacCorona, developed by the Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, at the production unit Vector-BiAlgam, in Novosibirsk, Russia

      Russia's EpiVacCorona Vaccine Develops Antibodies in 94% of Senior Citizens, Developer Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - As many as 94 percent of senior citizens develop antibodies against the coronavirus after being inoculated with Russia's EpiVacCorona vaccine, the head of the Yekaterinburg department of Russia's Vector research institute that developed the vaccine said on Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 07:04

      UK Adds Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh to Its Travel 'Red List'

    • 06:49

      Australian Prime Minister Urges EU to Grant Export Licenses for 3.8Mln AstraZeneca Doses

      Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied on Wednesday accusing the European Union of blocking vaccine shipments to the country and urged the bloc to grant AstraZeneca the license to export the full amount of 3.8 million doses that had been contracted in September.

      On Tuesday, Morrison appeared to blame the EU for disrupting the supply of the 3.1 million doses of the vaccine to Australia in response to criticism of failing to meet vaccination targets and address the humanitarian crisis in Papua New Guinea. The EU overnight refuted the claims and stated the only export request rejected had been for a March shipment of 250,000 doses from Italy.

      On Wednesday, Morrison clarified that he "simply stated a fact" that Australia had been relying on the contracted vaccines to support its rollout, but failed to receive 3.1 million out of 3.8 million contracted doses. He also strongly denied the fact that he had criticized the EU, stressing that "at no time yesterday did I make any comment about the actions of the European Union."

      "Now, I am pleased to hear that the European Union overnight has indicated that they are not seeking to restrict these vaccines to Australia. So I’ll be very pleased ... to write again in parallel both to AstraZeneca, to seek the export licences for the full amount of the doses, the 3.8 million, to be provided to Australia," Morrison said at a press briefing, noting that one million of doses would be immediately sent to Papua New Guinea.

      The disruptions in the deliveries have caused a 83 percent delay in Australia's vaccination campaign with only 854,983 vaccine shots being administered by the end of March, down from the targeted four million. The rollout is expected to pick up as Australia has been manufacturing its own batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine since mid-March.

      In January, the European Commission agreed on a mechanism to put extra controls on the exports of coronavirus vaccines produced in the EU amid massive shortfalls and rollout delays in its member states. Under the new regulations, EU countries can make a decision on the exports, but the final say stays with the European Commission. About 90 states were excluded from this scheme, including EU neighboring countries and the Balkan states.

    • 05:34

      Mexico Authorizes Emergency Use of India's First Homegrown Coronavirus Vaccine Covaxin

      The Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risk (Cofepris) has granted emergency use authorization to India's first domestically-produced COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

      "The decision by Cofepris to authorize the emergency use of the Covaxine vaccine produced in India was made very timely. Mexico's COVID-19 vaccination opportunities are expanding!" Ebrard said on Twitter.

      Since the beginning of the vaccination campaign, the Mexican authorities have distributed over 9.6 million doses of vaccines, mainly among the elderly and doctors. A massive campaign began in the second half of February.

      In Mexico, five different COVID-19 vaccines are used, which are purchased abroad or produced locally — Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sinovac, CanSino and Sputnik V. The overall number of bought and produced doses is 15,163,420.

    • 05:34

      Brazil's Coronavirus Death Toll Rises by Nearly 4,200 in Day

      Brazil's coronavirus death toll has risen by 4,195 people in the past day, setting a record, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

      The previous record for deaths from COVID-19 per day was set on 31 March, when 3,800 people died.

      The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Brazil has increased by 86,979 over the past 24 hours to 13,100,580.

      The total death toll stands at 336,947, with 11,558,784 recoveries.

    • 04:32

      COVID-19 Case Tally in Argentina Rises by More Than 20,000 in Day

      The number of cases of the novel coronavirus disease in Argentina has increased by more than 20,000 in the past 24 hours, setting a record since the pandemic start, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

      The case tally rose by 20,870 to 2,428,029.

      The death toll increased by 163 to 56,634 in the past day.

      Overall, 2,164,045 people have recovered from COVID-19.

    • 04:31

      Brazilian Officials Intend to Visit Sputnik V Vaccine Plant in Russia

      Brazilian officials intend to visit a Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine plant in Russia, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil.

      The TV channel said there would be a meeting Wednesday to clarify the details of the visit.

      Bolsonaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation Tuesday.

    • 04:31

      India Reports 115,736 New COVID-19 Infections

    Live Updates: EMA Advises Listing Blood Clots as 'Very Rare' Side Effect of AstraZeneca Vaccine
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