World News in Brief: January 23

Saturday, 2021-01-23 17:38:20
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A medical worker checks a blood sample for COVID-19 test at a laboratory in Rabat, Morocco, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Indian PM Narendra Modi said India was completely self-reliant on vaccine supplies as it inoculated more than 1 million people within a week of starting its campaign.

* Japan and the IOC stood firm on their commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied a report of a possible cancellation.
* The WHO said it had reached an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses of its vaccine and should be able to start delivering vaccines to poor and lower-middle income countries next month under its COVAX programme.
* China reported 107 new COVID-19 cases on the mainland on Jan. 22, up from 103 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Saturday. The National Health Commission said in a statement that 90 of the new cases were local infections. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,911, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.
* The European Commission will seek clarification from Pfizer over delays reported by EU countries for the delivery of vaccines next week, a spokesman for the EU executive said.
* British PM Boris Johnson said the new English variant of COVID-19 may be associated with a higher level of mortality.
* US President Joe Biden will sign orders to speed delivery of coronavirus stimulus checks and food aid, while Europe's vaccination drive was dealt another blow when AstraZeneca said initial deliveries to the region will fall short of the targeted volumes.
* Mexico's Health Ministry on Friday reported 21,007 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 1,440 additional fatalities, bringing the country's total to 1,732,290 cases and 147,614 deaths.
* Canada's Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden agreed to meet next month, the prime minister's office said on Friday, following a call between the two leaders in which they vowed to join forces to combat coronavirus in North America.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he and his US counterpart Joe Biden discussed migration, the COVID-19 pandemic and bilateral cooperation on Friday during their first phone call since the American assumed the presidency this week.
* Finland will put in place stricter regulations from Jan. 27 for entering the country, while Belgium is banning residents from taking vacations abroad until March.
* Greece will loosen more lockdown restrictions on Feb. 1.
* Mexico said the administration of second doses of the Pfizer vaccines could be delayed.
* Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla has reassured him it would supply Canada with 4 million doses of vaccine as scheduled by March 31.
* A variant of the novel coronavirus already accounts for about half of new infections in the Brazilian Amazonian city of Manaus, raising concerns about a greater risk of spread, a researcher warned.
* Morocco received 2 million doses of Astrazeneca's vaccine, becoming the first African country to get a large enough shipment to roll out a nationwide immunisation programme.
* France registered a further 23,292 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 649 more deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours as President Emmanuel Macron's government fought against the possibility of a third national lockdown. Health ministry data published on Friday showed that France's overall COVID-19 death toll stood at 72,647 - the seventh biggest in the world. The number of confirmed COVID cases stood at just over 3 million.
* President Joe Biden said on Friday the US economic crisis was deepening and that the government needs to take major action now to help struggling Americans.
* Belgium is banning residents from taking vacations abroad until March to limit the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants and avoid a deadly third wave of COVID-19 cases.
* Iran urged new US President Joe Biden on Friday to "choose a better path" by returning to a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers, but said the opportunity would be lost if Washington insists on further Iranian concessions up front.
* Thailand on Saturday reported 198 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total number of infections to 13,302 since the outbreak began last year. The new cases included 18 imported cases and one additional death, taking the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities to 72, a COVID-19 taskforce said.
* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 16,417 to 2,122,679, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 879 to 51,521, the tally showed.
* Bharat Biotech's vaccine, which has been authorized for use in India, proved safe and produced an immune response in a small group of adults aged 18 to 55, a study showed.
* BioNTech is to supply 50 million specialty needles at no profit to countries struggling to extract a sixth dose from vials of its vaccine.
* A gauge of stocks across the world slipped from record highs and oil prices fell to end the week little changed as weak economic data and underwhelming earnings drove investors to reverse some recent risky bets.
* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said China had approved delivery of a second consignment of the CoronaVac vaccine.
* Mali has chosen to use the AstraZeneca vaccine in its plan to initially immunise 4.2 million people.