World News in Brief: February 25

A real-world study found the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine highly effective at preventing COVID-19, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies.

BioNTech and Pfizer this month raised their supply goal for this year to 2 billion doses, up from a previous aim of 1.3 billion.
BioNTech and Pfizer this month raised their supply goal for this year to 2 billion doses, up from a previous aim of 1.3 billion.

* The militaries of India and Pakistan said in a rare joint statement on Thursday that they had agreed to observe a ceasefire along the disputed border in Kashmir, having exchanged fire hundreds of times in recent months.

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Thursday about the Gulf state's possible involvement in establishing a vaccine plant in Israel, a statement from the Israeli leader's office said .

* Rescue teams in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province searched for survivors on Thursday after a landslide in an illegal gold mining area killed six people, the search and rescue agency said. At least 15 survivors had been found as of Thursday.

* Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned of an attempted military coup against him on Thursday after the army demanded he and his government resign.

* Australia's parliament passed a law on Thursday to make Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook Inc pay media companies for content on their platforms in reforms that countries such as Britain and Canada are looking to replicate.

* India reported 16,738 new coronavirus infections, health ministry data showed on Thursday, for the highest daily jump since January 29, according to a Reuters tally. India's tally of 11.05 million infections is the world's second highest after the United States, and daily numbers are rising again after a lull in the last few months.

* Russia on Thursday reported 11,198 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 1,406 in Moscow, pushing the national case tally to 4,212,100 since the pandemic began. The coronavirus taskforce said that 446 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 84,876.

* The Philippines will take delivery of its first COVID-19 vaccines at the weekend, allowing it to kick off its inoculation programme from next week, a senior official said on Thursday.

* Indonesia will receive at least two million doses of a coronavirus vaccine produced by China's Sinopharm for use in a private vaccination scheme due to run alongside a national inoculation programme, a minister said on Thursday.

* The Biden administration will deliver more than 25 million masks to community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens this spring, the White House said.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 11,869 to 2,414,687, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 385 to 69,125, the tally showed.

* India announced an expansion of its vaccination programme but warned that breaches of coronavirus protocols could worsen an infection surge in many states.

* France said on Thursday it would bring in new COVID-19 restrictions for the area around its common border with Germany, as President Emmanuel Macron's government tries to contain a surge of coronavirus variants in the French region of Moselle.

* New variants of COVID-19 risk a third wave in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Germany has administered only 15% of the AstraZeneca vaccines it has available.

* Britain said it was confident in manufacturers' timely supply of vaccines to keep fuelling one of the world's fastest rollouts despite a slowdown this week.

* The Czech Republic must tighten measures to combat the pandemic and prevent a "catastrophe" in hospitals in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

* Sweden stepped up pandemic restrictions to avoid a third wave, while France's government ordered a weekend lockdown in the Dunkirk area to arrest an "alarming" rise in cases.

* Italy's government will extend restrictions already in place until after Easter, while Switzerland announced the first phase in a cautious easing from restrictions.

* Greece will not be able to lift lockdown restrictions in the wider Athens area next Monday as planned.

* The United States expects to roll out three to four million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine next week, pending authorization from the FDA, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

* Moderna is working with US government scientists to study an experimental booster shot that targets a concerning new variant of the coronavirus.

* Asian stocks jumped after US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reaffirmed interest rates would stay low for a long time, calming market fears that higher inflation might prompt the central bank to tighten the monetary spigot.

* Finland will go into a three-week lockdown starting on March 8 and is prepared to declare a state of emergency, the prime minister said on Thursday, to try to stem a rising number of coronavirus cases.

* Hospitals should prepare for a possible second wave and take steps to prevent the disease spreading, health authorities in the government-controlled part of Yemen said.

* South Africa could spend up to ZAR19.3 billion over the next three years to vaccinate most of its population, the Treasury said.