World News in Brief: April 1

Thursday, 2021-04-01 22:09:28
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A medical worker presents a dose of locally made COVID-19 vaccine "Soberana 02" in Havana, Cuba on March 31, 2021. The "Soberana 02" vaccine has entered phase 3 clinical trials earlier in March in Havana. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The World Trade Organization said risks from the uneven roll-out of coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the possible emergence of vaccine-resistant strains clouded the outlook for the global trade in goods, while raising its growth forecast slightly.

* The third phase of vaccination to curb the COVID-19 pandemic began in India on Thursday, during which all people aged above 45 years would be given vaccine jabs. So far over 65 million people (65,117,896) have been vaccinated across the country.

* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the United States has shown "encouraging signs" with regards to finding a compromise and returning to the Iran nuclear deal.

* Japan's first doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine are coming from plants in the United States, not Europe as initially expected, the company said.

* Republic of Korea said it will issue so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports to immunized citizens.

* The French government is still expecting that upcoming regional elections will be held in June as planned, providing health conditions allow it, Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament on Thursday, a day after the country announced a third lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Asian stocks were set to edge higher early on Thursday after big tech rallied on Wall Street and as US President Joe Biden announced a US$2.3 trillion infrastructure investment plan.

* Republic of Korean capital Seoul said on Thursday that it has sent a proposal for co-hosting the 2032 Olympics with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korean's Pyongyang to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in an effort to keep its hopes alive despite Brisbane being the frontrunner. The IOC has already picked the Australian city as the preferred partner for hosting the Games.

* The Mexican government raised the forecast for the expansion of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 from 4.6 to 5.3 percent, while projecting a stronger domestic market as vaccination against COVID-19 progresses, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

* On the eve of the Easter holidays, World Health Organization (WHO) Europe warned Europeans on Wednesday against making "individual" travel plans that could "affect more people than those close by" and could "also impact communities."

* European Union states are expected to receive 107 million doses of vaccines by the end of March, hitting a revised-down target but far below initial plans.

* Brazil health regulator Anvisa said it approved emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while it rejected a request from the government to import doses of Covaxin, citing a lack of safety data and documentation.

* Russia reported 9,169 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 2,151 in Moscow, pushing the infection tally in the country to 4,554,264 since the pandemic began. The government coronavirus taskforce said that 383 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking Russia's death toll to 99,233.

* President Emmanuel Macron ordered France into its third national lockdown and said schools would close for three weeks as he sought to push back a third wave of COVID-19 infections.

* Belgian hospitals have been ordered to reserve 60% of their intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients as a third wave of infections takes hold, doctors said.

* Brazil has detected a new COVID-19 variant that is similar to the one first seen in South Africa, the head of Sao Paulo's Butantan institute said.

* Johnson & Johnson said it had found a problem with a batch of the drug substance for its vaccine being produced by Emergent Biosolutions, and said the batch did not advance to the final fill-and-finish stage.

* Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was safe and effective and produced robust antibody responses in those aged 12 to 15, paving the way for them to seek approval in the United States and Europe in weeks.

* Europe's medicines regulator said it had not yet identified any risk factors such as age, sex or a previous history of blood clotting disorders, for clotting cases reported after inoculation with AstraZeneca's vaccine.

* Poland will increase its support scheme for the economy amid the pandemic lockdown by around PLN30 billion (US$7.63 billion), Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday.

* The economy of the Maldives is recovering sooner than expected following difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, local media reported on Thursday, quoting Spokesperson at the President's Office Mohamed Mabrook Azeez.

* The Portuguese parliament approved on Wednesday the renewal of the mandatory use of masks in public spaces until June 13 to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

* The total number of people vaccinated against the coronavirus exceeded 2 million in Romania on Wednesday, reaching 2,015,307. Of the inoculated people, 1,072,985 have received both shots of one of the three vaccines -- Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca -- currently approved for use in Romania, according to the National COVID Vaccination Coordination Committee.

* German biotechnology company BioNTech and US company Pfizer said on Wednesday that their COVID-19 vaccine was 100-percent efficient in children aged between 12 and 15.

* Nigeria hopes to receive up to 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this year through the African Union, its primary healthcare chief told Reuters, amid concerns about delayed deliveries of AstraZeneca shots.

* Egypt received 854,400 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine as part of the global COVAX agreement, the health ministry said.

* Israel plans to administer the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents upon FDA approval, the health minister said.

* Rates of stillbirth and maternal deaths rose by around a third during the pandemic, with pregnancy outcomes getting worse overall for both babies and mothers worldwide, according to an international data review.