World News in Brief: February 23

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on European parliaments to strive for a global COVID-19 vaccination plan to ensure equal access to vaccines around the world.

Students are seen on the way to a primary school in Berlin, capital of Germany, Feb. 22, 2021. According to local media, some schools and daycare centers in Germany have reopened with COVID-19 prevention measures in place on Monday. (Photo: Xinhua)
Students are seen on the way to a primary school in Berlin, capital of Germany, Feb. 22, 2021. According to local media, some schools and daycare centers in Germany have reopened with COVID-19 prevention measures in place on Monday. (Photo: Xinhua)

* Brazil will begin to produce a COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021, a state-run biological sciences institution said Monday.

* India's COVID-19 tally rose to 11,016,434 on Tuesday as 10,584 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry. According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 156,463 with 78 new deaths.

* President Joe Biden led Americans in observing a moment of silence on Monday to commemorate the grim milestone of more than 500,000 US deaths from COVID-19, urging Americans to set aside partisan differences and fight the pandemic together.

* Singapore has been testing out a "bubble" business hotel that will allow quarantined executives arriving in the country to do face-to-face meetings.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday it is disappointing that the European Union (EU) foreign ministers had decided to prepare new sanctions against Russian citizens "under a far-fetched pretext."

* Italy extended a ban on non-essential travel between the country's 20 regions until March 27, while the number of people being treated in intensive care units in France exceeded 3,400 for the first time since Dec. 3.

* Scotland's vaccination drive appears to be markedly reducing the risk of hospitalisation, preliminary study findings showed.

* Pfizer expects to deliver more than 13 million vaccine doses per week to the United States by the middle of March, a top company executive said.

* Australia will ramp up its immunisation drive with more shots to be rolled out from next week, after a second shipment of the vaccine reached the country overnight.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 3,883 to 2,394,811, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by 415 to 68,318, the tally showed.

* Nearly half a million Cuban children will be vaccinated against polio starting Monday as part of an annual campaign to prevent the disease, eradicated on the island since 1962, the Ministry of Public Health said.

* The European Commission hopes to boost technological innovation in the European Union (EU) by improving synergies between civil, defense and space industries, senior EU officials said on Monday.

* The US House of Representatives Budget Committee approved legislation with US$1.9 trillion in new coronavirus relief, advancing a top priority of President Biden toward a full House vote on passage expected later this week.

* Italy extended an inter-regional travel ban for another month on Monday, as health authorities were increasingly concerned for the circulation of coronavirus variants despite a relatively stable pandemic scenario.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that it welcomes the agreement reached by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday to continue "essential verification" for up to three months.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that schools in England will reopen from March 8 as part of the "roadmap" to ease the current coronavirus lockdown.

* The numbers of new coronavirus cases, deaths and the incidence continued to fall in Spain, according to the Ministry of Health on Monday.

* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Sri Lanka on Tuesday on a two-day official visit on the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart, the Prime Minister Office of Pakistan said.

* Oman will not allow people from 10 countries to enter the country for 15 days to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in particular certain mutated strains, the Gulf state's coronavirus committee said on Tuesday. The countries are: Sudan, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia. The decision is effective from Thursday.

* Palestinians in Gaza began a limited vaccination programme after receiving doses donated by Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

* Drugmakers should test any vaccines that have been retooled to combat new variants of the coronavirus in clinical trials designed to track the immune response of hundreds of subjects, which could take months, US regulators said.

* GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based vaccine candidate

Reuters, Xinhua