World News in Brief: May 8

Saturday, 2021-05-08 16:01:50
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People register to get vaccinated during a "vaccination marathon" at Palace Hall in Bucharest, Romania, on May 7, 2021. Romania's largest "vaccination marathon," aimed at further boosting COVID-19 jab rollout in the country, kicked off here Friday. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday held an informal dialogue with the incumbent United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, also the sole candidate for the position of the next UN secretary-general.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) validated on Friday the BBIBP-CorV COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm for emergency use. According to WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), the Sinopharm vaccine is recommended for use in adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks.

* The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has signed deals with three Chinese biopharmaceutical companies for the production of over 260 million doses of its Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus in the past weeks, according to statements published on the website of the RDIF.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed issues related to bilateral ties and exchanged congratulations on the 76th anniversary of the victory in World War II during a telephone conversation on Friday, the Kremlin said in a statement.

* The German government has rejected the US proposal to waive patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines, Minister of Health Jens Spahn told journalists here on Friday. Spahn said that as an innovation hub Germany had an interest in protecting intellectual property rights.

* Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SA have filed for a full US approval for their COVID-19 vaccine, which is now authorized only for emergency use.

* India on Saturday reported its highest ever single-day COVID-19 death toll, as cases continued to rise and states imposed stricter lockdowns. India's health ministry reported 4,187 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to just under 240,000. Cases rose by 401,078, increasing the total since the start of the pandemic to 21.9 million.

* The European Union and India will agree to revive stalled free-trade negotiations at a virtual summit on Saturday while also seeking closer cooperation to combat climate change.

* US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he is confident that a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin could be arranged in June, downplaying the impact of Russian-Ukrainian border tension to the summit.

* The Japanese government said on Friday that it will tighten restrictions on Japanese nationals and residents arriving here from India, Pakistan and Nepal, amid concerns over highly transmissible virus variants wreaking havoc, particularly in India.

* US President Joe Biden on Friday raised concerns about Iran's seriousness in Vienna talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The fourth round of talks over a potential US return to the Iran nuclear deal began in Vienna on Friday.

* Mexico and the United States agreed to strengthen cooperation to tackle the issues that drive Central American migrants north, following a video call on Friday between Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and US Vice President Kamala Harris.

* The Social Summit of the European Union (EU) on Friday generated the Porto Social Commitment, an agreement guaranteeing mechanisms for the member states to fulfill the objectives of the European social pillar in the next decade.

* More than 297.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across China as of Thursday, the National Health Commission said Friday.

* Thailand expects to offer the Moderna vaccine to most of its population soon as it steps up the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, a health official said on Saturday.

* Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas until May-end, but reiterated it is still possible to host Tokyo Olympics this summer.

* Britain restricted the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine, while Germany said it would give the shot to anyone who wants it.

* Canada is ready to discuss an intellectual property rights waiver for vaccines and will not block one even though it stresses the importance of protecting patents.

* Commodity prices jumped and major global equity indexes scaled record peaks after weak US jobs data for April tamped down fears that a booming economy would spark inflation and higher interest rates.

* President Joe Biden said there was a "long way to go" before the US economy recovers from a pandemic-spurred slump and urged Washington to do more to help the American people after a disappointing jobs report.

* Sri Lanka on Saturday approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in Sri Lanka, as the island nation battles a third wave of the virus.

* New Zealand will lift its partial suspension of a "travel bubble" with Australia from midnight on Sunday as fears of a COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney eased.

* The British government on Friday announced a "green list" of countries from which travellers are not required to quarantine upon return to England.

* French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday announced that EUR10 million (US$12 million) would be spent to reinforce the security of police officers in response to the recent violence directed against them.

* Museums in Greece will reopen to visitors next week, a day before the official start of the tourism season on May 15.

* Tunisia will impose a full lockdown against COVID-19 for one week from Sunday.

* All public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination, the human resources ministry said, without specifying when this would be implemented.

* At least 25 Taliban militants were killed and 12 others wounded during a counter-attack offensive launched by Afghan government forces in northern Baghlan province during Friday night, the Ministry of Defense confirmed on Saturday.

* The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Friday welcomed the release of detainees hold by the eastern-based army. Local media said that 194 detainees have been released by the eastern-based army during the month of Ramadan.