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Wednesday, April 07, 2021, 22:33
Moderna says Europe-bound vaccine deliveries on track
By Agencies
Wednesday, April 07, 2021, 22:33 By Agencies

Elle Taylor (left), 24, receives an injection of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse Laura French (right), at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen, Wales, on April 7, 2021. (JACOB KING / POOL / AFP)

WASHINGTON / OTTAWA / SANTIAGO / RIO DE JANEIRO / TUNIS / UNITED NATIONS / BUENOS AIRES / MEXICO CITY / PARIS / MILAN / MADRID / AMSTERDAM / SARAJEVO / BELGRADE / COPENHAGEN / SKOPJE / RABAT / LUSAKA / HAVANA / GENEVA / ADDIS ABABA / PORT OF SPAIN / CARACAS / BERLIN / MOSCOW / LAGOS / OSLO - Deliveries of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine are on track to meet the number of doses it promised to the European Union, a spokesperson for the US-based drugmaker said on Wednesday, following a report of delays in Germany.

“Moderna is committed to meeting all quarterly contractual delivery agreements with the European Commission and individual Member States,” the spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.

“April deliveries are on track to meet the dose ranges previously communicated to governments.”

A German language publication of Business Insider had reported that the delivery of up to 878,400 doses of Moderna’s vaccine due from April 26 to May 2 might not take place, citing unidentified sources within the German health ministry.

In response to questions about any interruptions, Moderna said that it “does not cancel delivery shipments, but can at times provide updates (on) delivery guidance based on the trajectory of manufacturing and batch release”.

Antibodies to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 persist for at least six months after patients receive the second dose of Moderna Inc’s vaccine, according to a new analysis of lab results from 33 healthy adults in the drugmaker’s phase one trial.

The finding, by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Emory University, Moderna and elsewhere, was published as a brief correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers had previously published three-month follow-up results from the phase 1 study in the same journal.

WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) expects there will be no reason to change its assessment that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 outweigh any risks, its regulatory director said on Tuesday.

The WHO is closely studying the latest data alongside European and other regulators, in light of reports of blood clots among people who have been vaccinated, said Rogerio Gaspar, WHO director of regulation and prequalification.

What we can say is that the appraisal that we have for the moment - and this is under consideration by the experts - is that the benefits-risk assessment for the vaccine is still largely positive.

Rogerio Gaspar, WHO director of regulation and prequalification

A senior official at Europe’s medicines regulator has said there is a clear “association” between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots in the brain, though the direct cause of the clots is still unknown.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement after the comments by Marco Cavaleri, chair of its vaccine evaluation team, that it was still conducting a review of the vaccine. The EMA expects to provide its latest assessment on Wednesday.

Gaspar said the WHO expects to reach a fresh assessment on Wednesday or Thursday, after its own vaccine safety advisory group meets, but does not believe there will be a reason to change its advice that the benefits outweigh any risks.

“What we can say is that the appraisal that we have for the moment - and this is under consideration by the experts - is that the benefits-risk assessment for the vaccine is still largely positive,” he said at a Geneva news conference.

“For the time being there is no evidence that the benefit-risk assessment for the vaccine needs to be changed,” he added.

ALSO READ: WHO says doesn't back vaccination passports for now

Vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at a vaccination center in Nuremberg, southern Germany, on March 18, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 132.44 million while the global death toll topped 2.87 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Africa

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 4,291,017 as of Wednesday noon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stood at 114,344, while 3,858,461 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease. 

Argentina

The second wave of COVID-19 infections "is already a fact" in Argentina, so people should be extremely careful, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti warned on Tuesday.

New measures, which will try to avoid impacting productive and commercial activities, will be implemented after discussions between the central government and provincial authorities and the capital city of Buenos Aires, according to the minister.

Argentina on Tuesday registered a record 20,870 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the tally to 2,428,029, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry also reported 163 more deaths, taking the death toll to 56,634.

A total of 2,164,045 patients have recovered from the disease so far, while 207,350 cases remain active, it said.

So far, 699,598 people have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 3,816,236 have received the first jab.

Austria

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz signaled that Austria could give emergency approval to the Russian Sputnik V vaccine if experts deem it effective and safe and the procedure at the European Medicines Agency takes too long.

“A quick approval by EMA would make sense,” Kurz told journalists in Vienna. “If that doesn’t happen in the foreseeable future, then the question turns to national steps and I believe it would make sense for us to take this avenue.”

Kurz said talks with Russia to supply 1 million Sputnik shots starting in April were close to being finalized and a contract could be signed soon. “You have to distinguish purchase and approval,” he said.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) on Tuesday reported its highest daily number of COVID-19-related deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The health authorities registered 1,099 new cases and 99 deaths in the past 24 hours. The previous record daily toll was 93 reported on March 29.

To date, 177,506 COVID-19 cases and 7,052 deaths have been reported by the health authorities of BiH, a country of 3.5 million people.

According to the state-owned FENA news agency, hundreds of protesters gathered in the capital Sarajevo on Tuesday, blaming the government for its "inefficient response to the pandemic and the delay in providing COVID-19 vaccines to all citizens." They also urged the introduction of mandatory COVID-19 testing of all international arrivals in the country.

Brazil

Brazil recorded a daily record 4,195 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, as well as 86,979 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Brazil has registered more than 13 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 336,947, according to ministry data.

Brazil's new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Alberto Franco Franca, on Tuesday pledged to work towards "true health diplomacy" as a way to access the vaccines and medicines needed to tackle the country's critical outbreak of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Brazil COVID-19 deaths on track to pass worst of US wave

A man wearing a face mask and a face shield walks past signs outside a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, April 6, 2021. (ZOU ZHENG / XINHUA)

Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to create stress and anxiety among Canadians as the country reported 4,521 new cases as of Tuesday afternoon, according to CTV.

The new cases took the total number of COVID-19 cases to 1,018,894, including 23,135 deaths, according to the report. 

Over the past week, on average there have been almost 6,100 new cases and 31 deaths reported daily, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada on Tuesday.

COVID-19 variants of concern are contributing to the current resurgence.

"Of the over 15,000 variant of concern cases reported to date across Canada, the B.1.1.7 variant continues to account for over 90 percent and has likely replaced the original virus in some locations," said Theresa Tam, the country's chief public health officer, in a statement on Tuesday.

Ontario, the most populous province with a population of 14 million, is widening its vaccination plan in hard-hit areas and Ontario Premier Doug Ford hinted at further restrictions as the province faces a growing strain on hospitals and intensive care units from COVID-19 cases.

Chile

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Tuesday announced that the landmark elections this weekend for councilors, mayors and, for the first time ever, regional governors and members of a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution will be postponed until May 15-16 due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The announcement came as the health ministry reported 5,164 new COVID-19 infections and 57 deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, bringing the totals to 1,037,780 cases and 23,734 deaths.

Health Minister Enrique Paris said that Chile "faces a very complex few weeks”.

According to the health ministry, COVID-19 cases increased by 20 percent in the last 14 days nationwide, while only six regions registered a decrease in the number of infections.

The regions with the greatest increase in new cases are Atacama, Maule, Aysen and Santiago Metropolitan Region.  

Cuba

Cuba reported on Tuesday 1,030 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the tally to 81,640, the Ministry of Public Health said.

Four newly reported deaths pushed the toll to 440, the ministry said.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel announced harsher measures to deal with the high incidence rate of COVID-19 in the country, warning via Twitter that a "low awareness of risk is the greatest danger”.

"Alarming start of April, with daily average of more than 1,000 cases, mostly in Havana. In the coming hours there will be more drastic measures regarding closure measures, similar to the first outbreak," the president wrote.

Diaz-Canel also noted that "it will take months for Cuba to be completely immunized," calling for greater citizen responsibility "for the sake of our families and the homeland”.

Curevac

Global supply chains for making COVID-19 vaccines have been disrupted by US restrictions, creating headaches for companies seeking to build production in Europe, according to one of the founders of Germany’s Curevac.

Florian von der Muelbe, Curevac’s chief production officer, said in an interview with the Rheinische Post that he was hopeful Curevac’s vaccine candidate would win emergency European approval this quarter and confirmed a forecast that it would produce 300 million doses this year.

He added, however, that vaccine makers seeking to build production in Europe were at a serious disadvantage because suppliers in the United States were required under the Defense Production Act to meet the needs of the home market first.

In this Oct 29, 2020, Czech Health Minister Jan Blatny speaks with journalists as he is inaugurated to his new office in Prague. (MICHAL CIZEK / AFP)

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is replacing its third health minister in just over six month as it struggles to contain one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in the world.

Minister Jan Blatny said he was dismissed on Wednesday at the request of Premier Andrej Babis, who nominated him to the job in October and later criticized his handling of the pandemic. Babis picked Petr Arenberger, a hospital director in Prague, to replace him.

Babis has censured Blatny for opposing the use of experimental drugs for COVID-19 treatment. President Milos Zeman, a close ally of the premier, demanded the minister’s dismissal for not allowing the rollout of Russian Sputnik V vaccine in this European Union member state without the approval of the bloc’s drug regulator.

Denmark

The gradual reopening of Denmark has begun with the introduction of a "corona passport" by the Danish Health Authority, through Sundhed.dk, a Danish e-Health portal, on Tuesday.

The passport, which can be downloaded and shown by an app onto a smartphone or alternatively printed out from the website of Sundhed.dk, will officially document either a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours, a previous infection during the last two to 12 weeks, or a completed vaccination course.

The initial beneficiaries of the passport will be a number of liberal professions such as hair salons. However, customers are still required to use a face mask when they present their valid "corona passport." Children under 15 years are exempt from the requirements.

A "flexible and responsible" reopening promised by the government will begin on April 6, when 5th-8th graders and home-schooled since the end of 2020, will be permitted to attend school every second week. The day will also see the reopening of hairdressers and beauty salons.

According to the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), Denmark registered 520 new infections and two more deaths in the past 24 hours. To date, the country has reported 234,317 cases and 2,432 deaths.  

Ethiopia

Ethiopia registered 2,054 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 219,381 as of Tuesday evening, the Ministry of Health said.

The ministry said 25 more deaths were reported across the country during the same period, bringing the death toll to 3,025.

Thecountry reported 934 new recoveries, taking the count to 163,956.

EU

Plans by European Union countries to issue certificates showing that citizens have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should have a legal basis to ensure that they are necessary and proportionate, the bloc’s privacy watchdogs said on Tuesday.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) also warned against using data in such travel documents to create a central EU database.

France

France’s hospital system is under heavy pressure from the pandemic, with the number of people treated in intensive care units for COVID-19 at the highest in almost a year, even though the country has just entered its third lockdown.

The health ministry reported on Tuesday that the number of people in ICUs with COVID-19 had increased by 193 over 24 hours to 5,626, a peak since April 20 2020, when France was in its first March-May 2020 lockdown.

The total number of people hospitalised for the disease rose by 732 over 24 hours, the sharpest daily increase for more than four months, to 30,639, breaching the 30,000 limit for the first time since Nov 24 and closing in on the Nov 16 record of 33,497.

Earlier on Tuesday, the country started administering shots of the COVID-19 vaccine inside the Stade de France, the national stadium that once hosted soccer’s World Cup final.

Meanwhile, France is likely to prioritise citizens based in its overseas territories and those with low income for the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, an official with the health ministry said on Tuesday. This allows for more deployment flexibility, the official said.

People queue outside the Stade de France stadium, which has been converted into a temporary COVID-19 vaccination site, in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, April 6, 2021. (THOMAS SAMSON / POOL VIA AP)

Germany

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 9,677 to 2,910,445, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday.

The reported death toll rose by 298 to 77,401, the tally showed. 

Hungary

Hungary reported a daily record in COVID-19 related deaths on the day it started easing virus curbs, reinforcing concerns that the relaxation of rules came too early in the country with the world’s highest fatality rate. 

Health authorities reported 311 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, when the government shortened a nationwide curfew by two hours, allowed most stores to reopen and most services to resume.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the easing on Tuesday after 2.5 million people, or a quarter of the population, had received at least one vaccine dose. While that makes Hungary’s inoculation campaign the second-fastest in the European Union, to date only 10 percent of Hungarians have received two shots for full vaccination.

Italy

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been in hospital since Tuesday afternoon for check-ups, two sources from his Forza Italia party said on Wednesday.

One of the sources said the 84-year-old media tycoon went to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan for follow-up tests after contracting the new coronavirus in September last year.

Italy reported 421 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday against 296 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 7,767 from 10,680 the day before.

In total, Italy has registered 111,747 deaths linked to COVID-19 and 3.69 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 29,337 on Tuesday, up from 28,785 a day earlier.

There were 221 new admissions to intensive care units, up from 192 on Monday. The total number of intensive care patients edged up to 3,743 from a previous 3,737. 

Mexico

Mexico’s health regulator Cofepris has authorized the emergency use of India’s COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday.

Ebrard said on Tuesday he planned to visit Moscow and China “very soon” as part of his government’s efforts to ensure that its supply agreements for vaccines against COVID-19 are honored.

Meanwhile, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he expects to be vaccinated against COVID-19 within the next 15-20 days.

Mexico’s government reported 4,675 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 603 more fatalities, according to data from the health ministry published on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 2,256,380 infections and 205,002 deaths.

Morocco

Morocco's COVID-19 tally rose to 499,025 on Tuesday after 696 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Health, the death toll went up by eight to 8,865.

The total number of recoveries increased by 546 to 485,708, the ministry said, adding that there were 442 people in intensive care units.

So far, 4,382,917 people have received one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and 3,992,324 have received the second dose as well.

Netherlands

The number of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands declined in the week through April 4, health officials said in a weekly review published on Tuesday, in part due to a decline in people being tested.

It was the first weekly decline in seven weeks, according to data from the National Institute for Health (RIVM).

The RIVM registered a 7 percent decline in new cases to 48,186, but the number of people who got a test declined by 10 percent due to the Easter holiday.

The RIVM says that the Netherlands is undergoing a third wave of the virus that it forecasts will peak in late April as vaccination levels increase. 

Nigeria

Nigeria has received 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India, a senior official has said.

This will further boost the number of Nigerians to be vaccinated, Boss Mustapha, chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and secretary of the government of the federation, told reporters at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.

The "Covishield" is the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

As of Monday, a total of 963,802 people in Nigeria had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Tuesday night, the country has recorded a total of 163,388 confirmed cases with 2,058 deaths and 153,630 recoveries, according to data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.  

Norway

Norway hopes to gradually unwind many restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of June, but must see a decline in infection rates and hospitalisations before it does so, Prime Minister Erna Solberg told parliament on Wednesday.

Norway has had some of Europe’s lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic early last year, but saw a rapid increase in hospitalisations in March led by more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

Solberg presented a four-step plan for easing Norway’s restrictions, and said the first three steps could be completed by the end of June, possibly removing many curbs on travel ahead of the summer holidays, unless new setbacks emerge.

North Macedonia

The number of COVID-19-related deaths in North Macedonia surpassed 4,000 on Tuesday as the health ministry reported 45 fatalities within 24 hours.

The death toll now stands at 4,022.

According to the ministry, 1,259 new cases were also reported, bringing the cumulative caseload to 136,426.   Forty-five coronavirus patients lost their lives in the same period, raising the number of fatalities in the country to 4,022.

Oxford vaccine study in kids

The University of Oxford said on Tuesday it had paused a small UK trial testing the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca in children and teenagers, as it waits for more data on rare blood clotting issues in adults who received the shot.

The trial disruption is the latest blow to the vaccine, once hailed as a milestone in the fight against the pandemic, after several countries restricted its use in light of reports of medical issues after inoculations.

There were no safety concerns in the pediatric trial, Oxford University said, adding that it would await guidance from the UK drugs watchdog before giving any further vaccinations.

Poland

Poland will extend its COVID-19 restrictions until April 18, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Wednesday, as the health system struggles to cope with a third wave of infections.

Kindergartens, shopping centres, hotels, cinemas and theatres will remain closed under the restrictions.

Around 90 percent of COVID-19 cases reported in Poland are the variant of the virus first discovered in Britain, Niedzielski said.

Russia

Russia reported 8,294 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including 1,585 in Moscow, taking the official national tally to 4,606,162.

The government coronavirus task force said 374 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing its death toll to 101,480.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and last week reported a much higher toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February. 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic receives a shot of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Majdanpek, Serbia, April 6, 2021. (SHI ZHONGYU / XINHUA)

Serbia

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday received a shot of China's Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19 in the country's eastern municipality of Majdanpek.

"I feel great, like nothing happened," he said after the inoculation.

China has provided vaccines to Serbia to help the Balkan country fight the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest shipment arriving in Belgrade on Monday.

According to the president, Serbia plans to produce the Chinese vaccine in the future, as well as develop scientific cooperation in that field.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, who received the Sinopharm vaccines at an airport, said the country aims to vaccinate roughly 40 percent of adults with the first dose done by the end of April.

Serbia has confirmed a total of 617,669 COVID-19 cases and 5,458 deaths as of Monday.

South Africa

Medical workers groups expressed concern about the possible increasing COVID-19 infections in South Africa which might lead to a possible third wave of infections.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said that travelling and gatherings over the Easter weekend could lead to more infections.

As of Monday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa is 155,2416 with a death toll of 52,995. 

Spain

The regional authorities of Castile and Leon in central Spain said on Wednesday they have suspended the use of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine until the European Medicines Agency (EMA) releases a report on its safety.

Spain is accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination rollout and will have fully inoculated 25 million people by late July, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday, also confirming the end-August target of giving 70 percent of all Spaniards their shots.

The July target covers 53 percent of Spain’s 47 million-strong population, or 64 percent of all adults, and is largely in line with the EU’s July goal of inoculating 70 percent of its adult population.

Sanchez said the number of those fully vaccinated will surpass the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases, which on Monday stood at 3.3 million, by next week.

Spain will receive 87 million vaccine doses between April and September, Sanchez said, with second-quarter delivery volumes expected to exceed the January-March level by 3.5 times.

Data released on Monday showed around 5.7 million people had received at least one shot, while 2.8 million had received a full course of two doses.

Separately, the Madrid regional government said on Tuesday it had met with representatives of the maker of Russia’s Sputnik V shot to “explore ways of accelerating its vaccination campaign”.

Trinidad and Tobago

Keith Rowley, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined under medical supervision.

The 71-year-old prime minister said on his Facebook account that he began experiencing flu-like symptoms on Monday night and was subsequently tested for COVID-19.

Trinidad and Tobago has so far registered 8,214 cases with 145 deaths in the pandemic.

Tunisia

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Tuesday excluded the possibility of imposing a nationwide lockdown despite the spike in COVID-19 cases, reported the Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP).

"It is not possible to impose a general lockdown in Tunisia because of the socio-economic difficulties," Mechichi was quoted by the TAP as saying.

But he declined to rule out the possibility of changing the curfew hours, saying that the Tunisian scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus will discuss necessary anti-pandemic measures on Wednesday.

The health ministry on Tuesday reported 1,866 new COVID-19 cases and 46 more deaths, pushing the tally to 263,043 and the toll to 9,039.

UK

The UK will begin rolling out the Moderna Inc. vaccine on Wednesday, bolstering Britain’s COVID-19 immunization program amid concerns over AstraZeneca Plc’s shot and a shortfall of doses this month.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Moderna shot would first be offered in west Wales. It is the third approved vaccine to be offered in Britain, alongside shots from AstraZeneca and partners Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, and its rollout is around two weeks earlier than expected.

The UK has ordered 17 million doses of Moderna’s two-shot vaccine, enough for 8.5 million people.

READ MORE: UK PM faces political fight over COVID-19 passports plan

The success of the vaccine program is crucial to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ambition to fully reopen the UK economy on June 21. On Tuesday, he sought to reassure people over the Astra vaccine amid ongoing concerns in Europe over possible side effects.

The government reported 2,379 new cases and 20 more deaths, bringing the cumulative tally to 4,364,529 cases with 126,882 deaths, according to official figures released Tuesday.

More than 31.6 million people have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the official figures.

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) employees supervise the arrival of the first batch of coronavirus vaccines at Khartoum airport in the Sudanese capital on March 3, 2021. (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

UNICEF

The head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) proposed on Tuesday that intellectual property rights (IPR) be simplified to produce more COVID-19 vaccines.

"Some countries have contracted enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times, while other countries have yet to receive even their first dose," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. "This threatens us all. The virus and its mutations will win."

At the current rate, there is not enough vaccine supply to meet demand and the supply available is concentrated in the hands of too few, she said in a statement.

"We need to end vaccine nationalism," said Fore. "Governments should remove direct and indirect export- and import-control measures that block, restrict or slow down exports of COVID-19 vaccines, ingredients and supplies."

The UNICEF chief also said that governments having contracted to receive more doses than they need to vaccinate their entire adult populations this year should release the surplus for 2021 to COVAX to allocate equitably among other countries.

US

US President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that all American adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, moving up his original deadline of May 1 by nearly two weeks.

Biden said that 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered within his first 75 days in office, in line with a stated goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.

The country has seen a rise in new cases in 27 states, including cases from new and emerging COVID-19 variants. Currently, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is about 61,000 cases a day, a 10 percent increase over the previous period, according to the latest data of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The country has recorded more than 17,000 infection cases of coronavirus variants as of Tuesday, according to the latest data of the CDC.

About 168 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered as of Tuesday, while more than 219 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country, CDC data show. 

The US government won’t issue so-called vaccine passports, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, though the Biden administration plans guidance for companies developing the credentials.

US cruises could resume by mid-summer with restrictions, the CDC said after Carnival Corp., the largest operator, threatened to relocate ships to other markets.

In another development, California, the most populous US state, will fully reopen its economy on June 15 if COVID-19 hospitalizations are low and stable, and vaccine supplies are plentiful enough for everyone over the age of 16 who wants to be inoculated, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday.

Venezuela

Scores of Venezuelan healthcare students protested Tuesday in front of Caracas’ University Hospital demanding a national vaccination plan and 100 percent vaccination coverage for doctors and nurses, amid a spike in infections that has led the government to extend lockdown measures.

With 30 million inhabitants, Venezuela’s vaccination campaign is behind most other countries in the region.

Venezuelan health authorities reported this week that some 200,000 health workers have been inoculated, although medical unions point out the sector has at least 1 million workers.

Venezuelan authorities reported 1,425 new coronavirus cases and 15 deaths on Monday for a total of 167,548 infections and 1,678 deaths officially registered from March 2020 until this week.

Zambia

Zambia will review its response to COVID-19 in order to analyze the strength and weaknesses, a senior government official said Tuesday.

Minister of Health Jonas Chanda said the review of the multisectoral response was critical in preparing for a probable third wave of infections during the cold months of June and July.

Zambia recorded 62 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours out of 2,438 tests conducted, bringing the cumulative cases to 89,071.

Deaths rose by two to 1,224 while the total number of recoveries increased by 160 to 85,338.


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