World News in Brief: May 1

Saturday, 2021-05-01 22:45:02
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AstraZeneca has confirmed setbacks to production of its COVID-19 vaccines in Latin America, excluding Brazil, but said it will still meet a commitment to deliver 150 million doses to the region this year.
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The World Health Organization expects to release its assessments for emergency use listing of the two main Chinese vaccines for COVID-19 as well as the Moderna shot by the end of next week, WHO Assistant Director-General Mariangela Simao said.

* An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8, revised up from an earlier estimate of 6.6, jolted northeast Japan on Saturday, shaking buildings 400 kilometres away in Tokyo and raising the possibility of landslides closer to the epicentre.

* A single dose of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine may not generate a sufficient immune response to protect against dominant new variants, except in people who have already been infected with COVID-19, according to a UK study.

* China reported 16 new mainland COVID-19 cases on April 30, down from 13 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Saturday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,671, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,636.

* Japanese regulators are set to approve Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine as soon as May 21, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported Saturday, without citing the source of the information.

* Russia reported 9,270 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, including 3,208 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4,814,558. The government coronavirus task force said 392 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 110,520.

* US President Joe Biden is expected to impose new travel restrictions on India starting Tuesday, barring most non-US citizens from entering the United States, a White House official told Reuters.

* Thailand will next month receive another 3.5 million doses of Sinovac Biotech's vaccine, as the country seeks to shore-up supplies amid its biggest outbreak so far.

* Some EU countries still want Brussels to strike a deal to buy Valneva's vaccine candidate despite a recent setback in talks, as the bloc aim to shore up and diversify supplies, sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.

* India has received 150,000 Sputnik-V vaccine doses from Russia, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry said on Saturday.

* All people in France aged 18 and over will be able to get COVID-19 vaccines from June 15 onwards.

* Sweden said it would take three weeks longer then expected to offer all adults their first COVID-19 shot after it decided not to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

* Spain is extending the gap between the first and second doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to 16 weeks for people aged under 60, going beyond the 12-week maximum interval approved by European authorities.

* Canada's remote oil sands region in northern Alberta has become a COVID-19 hotspot, disrupting essential annual maintenance work at its massive oil sands plants.

* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he expects the United States to send Mexico around 5 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

* Argentina announced a three-week extension of anti-coronavirus measures that include cancellation of in-person public school classes and an 8 p.m. curfew for social activities.

* Turkey has enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the moment and more shots will be coming soon from Russia and China, President Tayyip Erdogan said.

* Italy reported 226 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 263 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 12,965 from 13,446.

* Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on bringing both sides fully back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal are making steady progress and will resume on Friday, the head of Russia's delegation said on Saturday.

* Britain reported seven new coronavirus deaths and a further 1,907 infections on Saturday, taking the total number of deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test to 127,524, according to daily government figures.

* The commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan warned on Saturday it would be a mistake for insurgents to attack foreign troops still present in the country after the passing of a May 1 deadline for withdrawal agreed last year with Taliban militants.

* Portugal is extending until May 16 flight restrictions that stop non-essential travel from countries including Brazil with high coronavirus incidence rates, and added India to the list due to the rapid rise in infections there.

* Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Saturday the government would reduce the income tax rate by 1 percentage point to 8%, in the 2021/22 financial year beginning in July, and also planned to remove "unfriendly taxes and charges to Tanzanians".

* Pakistan plans to reduce the number of inbound international flights to 20% of current numbers to curb rising COVID-19 cases, the official body overseeing the country's pandemic response said on Saturday.

* Ukraine has signed a contract with Pfizer for an additional 10 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, brining the total number of doses to 20 million, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office said on Saturday.

* At least 18 people, including two healthcare workers were killed in a fire at a COVID-19 hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat late on Friday night, officials said on Saturday, in the country's latest deadly hospital accident.