Covid-19

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca says initial EU delivery of Covid-19 vaccine to fall short
AstraZeneca Logo
AstraZeneca Logo Credit: AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca told European Union officials that initial deliveries to the region would fall short of the targeted volumes because of a production glitch.

The announcement comes after European officials clashed this week with Pfizer and BioNTech over the companies' decision to cut their own planned deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines to the bloc.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil paid twice as much as EU for first AstraZeneca vaccine delivery
Brazil paid twice as much as EU for first AstraZeneca vaccine delivery
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Brazilian government will pay the Serum Institute in India more than twice as much as European Union have earmarked for AstraZeneca vaccines. In a statement at the beginning of January, Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) confirmed the negotiation and indicated that "the institute will offer the ready vaccines to the market for US$5.25 each".

In recent weeks, an alleged error by the Belgian Minister for the Budget has allowed the prices of different doses of vaccines to be revealed to the European public, with a value of US$2.16 for AstraZeneca doses.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austrian mayors got leftover Covid vaccines, accused of "queue-jumping"
Austrian mayors got leftover Covid vaccines, accused of "queue-jumping"
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In several Austrian provinces, including Tyrol, Carinthia, Vorarlberg and Vienna, several politicians, municipal employees and relatives were injected with leftover Covid-19 vaccine doses meant for residents and staff at elderly care homes.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz sharply criticised the behaviour.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
More than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in Germany since the start of the pandemic
More than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in Germany since the start of the pandemic
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

More than 50,000 people in Germany have died in connection with the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The German health authorities reported 859 new deaths within 24 hours to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), bringing the total number of deaths to 50,642.

Regional News • Americas • South America
Argentinean President Alberto Fernández received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine
Alberto Fernández receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine
Alberto Fernández receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine Credit: Esteban Collazo/Casa Rosada

The Argentinean President Alberto Fernández received Thursday the first dose of the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.

After a controversy over whether studies would come from Moscow to support the use of the vaccine in people over 60, the National Administration of Drugs, Food and Medical Technology (Anmat) on Wednesday authorised its use in the age group most at risk from the coronavirus.

On Monday, the government released an official timetable promising that another 4.7 million Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses will arrive in the country before the end of the month. The schedule for the delivery of the vaccine announced by the government began in December with the arrival of 300,000 doses and continues in January with 5,000,000 more (300,000 were delivered on the last Saturday), while another 14,700,000 are expected in February.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Music
Glastonbury 2021 cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
Glastonbury 2021 cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

As a study from London's Imperial College revealed that Covid-19 cases in England are "not falling," despite a third lockdown, the Glastonbury music festival has been cancelled once again, festival organizers announced on Thursday.

2021 will mark the second summer in a row where the international festival was not held after the 2020 event was cancelled last March.

"In spite of our efforts to move Heaven & Earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the Festival happen this year," organizers Michael and Emily Eavis said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Glastonbury has been headlined by a glittering array of British and global stars since its first date in 1970, including David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Oasis, U2 and Beyoncé.

Regional News • Europe
Portugal: schools, kindergartens and universities close amid Coronavirus surge
Paços da Universidade, Portugal
Paços da Universidade, Portugal Credit: xiquinhosilva from Cacau, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In Portugal, the government orders the closure of schools and universities for at least 15 days. Due to the new virus variant and the rapid transmission, caution must be exercised, says Prime Minister Antonio Costa, explaining the measure. The country reported 221 more Corona deaths on Thursday alone, the most ever in a single day, and 13,544 new infections.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Rio de Janeiro mayor discards Carnival happening in July, after first postponement from February
Rio de Janeiro mayor discards Carnival happening in July, after first postponement from February
Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, announced that the 2020 Carnaval would not be held in July on Thursday, as it seems the immunisation campaign against Covid-19 will be delayed in the city.

"This celebration requires a great deal of preparation on the part of public bodies and of samba associations and institutions. Something impossible to do at that moment. Thus, I would like to inform you that we will not have Carnaval in the middle of the year in 2021", said Paes.

When it deliberated on the postponement to July, the Independent League of Samba Schools (Liesa) made the parades conditional on the immunisation campaign against Covid-19.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
KLM suspends all of its long-haul flights
Boeing 787-900 above the dutch coast
Boeing 787-900 above the dutch coast Credit: KLM

The Dutch airline KLM will suspend all its intercontinental flights and some European routes from Friday now that the Netherlands requires a rapid coronavirus test before entry.

New requirements mandated by the government require passengers to obtain a negative Covid-19 rapid test result no later than four hours prior to departure to the Netherlands. In addition, passengers must also have a negative result from a PCR test conducted within 72 hours from their flight's departure to be let into the country.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazilians celebrate arrival of Venezuelan oxygen supplies to struggling Manaus
Brazilians celebrate arrival of Venezuelan oxygen supplies to struggling Manaus
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

Venezuela had announced on January 14 that in light of the humanitarian crisis provoked by a drastic increase in Covid-19 cases in Amazonas, it would send 130,000 litres of oxygen to support the struggling public health system. In addition to the oxygen tanks, the Venezuelan government also formed a brigade with 107 Brazilian and Venezuelan doctors, graduates of the Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine in Caracas, to help combat the pandemic in the State.

Brazil has been one of the worst impacted countries during the pandemic, which progressive movements have largely attributed to the mismanagement of the public health crisis by the federal government under far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden plans to make masks mandatory nationwide
Biden plans to make masks mandatory nationwide
Credit: unsplash.com/Anton

President-elect Joe Biden's first executive order will be a nationwide mask mandate, not as a "political statement" but for the "health of our families, and economic recovery of our country."

"This executive action will direct the agencies to take action to require compliance with CDC guidance on mask wearing and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors," Biden’s counselor and Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said. "And the President will call on governors, public health officials, mayors, business leaders and others to implement masking, physical distancing and other public measures to control Covid-19."

Lifestyle • Travel
Disneyland Paris reopening delayed until April
Disneyland Paris reopening delayed until April
Credit: unsplash.com/Lyle Hastie

Disneyland Paris announced on Monday that it would delay reopening until at least April 2nd. The park had initially planned to reopen on February 13th.

The company said in a statement that "due to the prevailing conditions in Europe, Disneyland Paris will not reopen on the 13th of February as initially planned. If conditions permit, we will reopen Disneyland Paris on the 2nd of April, 2021 and will welcome reservations from that date forward."

Regional News • World
Independent review panel criticises China and WHO for acting too slowly on Covid-19
Temperature monitoring area at Beijing Capital International Airport, 31/03/2020
Temperature monitoring area at Beijing Capital International Airport, 31/03/2020 Credit: N509FZ, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has criticised China and the World Health Organization for not having acted fast enough to avert catastrophe during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Switzerland-based panel added that there was "potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly" in China at the start of the crisis.

"What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January (2020)," the report said.

Regional News • World
Biden to not lift international travel restrictions
An officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations welcomes and clears international travelers arriving at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., March 13, 2020.
An officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations welcomes and clears international travelers arriving at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., March 13, 2020. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jen Psaki, President-elect Joe Biden’s press secretary, dismissed Donald Trump's order to lift the ban on travellers from Europe and Brazil that has been in place since March 2020, instead announced plans to "strengthen public health measures around international travel."

"With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel," Psaki tweeted. "On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria extends lockdown to February 7, mandates FFP2 masks
Austria extends lockdown to February 7, mandates FFP2 masks
Credit: Herzi Pinki, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Austrian government has extended the nationwide lockdown to February 7, citing the new mutation B.1.1.7 that was first discovered in the United Kingdom and the daily case count of well over 1000 newly confirmed infections. Chancellor Kurz promises "complete normality" until summer and warned that "we still have two to three tough months ahead of us".

FFP2 masks will be mandatory in all stores and on public transport and strongly recommended everywhere else from January 25 on. Starting February 8, non-essential businesses will be able to reopen while hotels, restaurants and the cultural sector will have to remain closed awaiting further evaluation in February.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Man found living in an airport for 3 months over Covid fears

A man too afraid to fly due to the pandemic lived undetected in a secure area of Chicago's international airport for three months, US. He reportedly found the staff badge in the airport and was "scared to go home due to Covid"

Regional News • Oceania
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021
Credit: Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The Australian government's chief medical adviser, Brendan Murphy, has told ABC TV that lifting substantial border restrictions is not expected in 2021, despite an early start to the vaccination campaign. Australia's borders have been closed to travellers since March 2020 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"I think that we'll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions – even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus," Professor Murphy said.

"And it's likely that quarantine will continue for some time. One of the things about this virus is that the rule book has been made up as we go."

Health
The first person to be vaccinated in Brazil is a black woman, ICU nurse, minutes after Coronavac being approved
The first person to be vaccinated in Brazil is a black woman, ICU nurse, minutes after Coronavac being approved
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Minutes after the first vaccine being approved for use in Brazil, the Coronavac Vaccine by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, the first person that has been vaccinated is a black woman, 54 years old, working in Sao Paulo's Emilio Ribas hospital, as ICU nurse.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria extends Covid-19 lockdown until at least February 7th

In Austria, the lockdown will be extended for the time being by two weeks until February 7. After that, the government announced in a press conference that there could be some initial easing. Trade and museums are then likely to reopen under strict conditions.

Health
India says Brazil rushed to send plane for vaccine
India says Brazil rushed to send plane for vaccine
Credit: Tony Winston/MS (Public Domain)

A spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry told the Hindustan Times that it was "too early" to send the batches of the vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute in partnership with Oxford University and pharmacist AstraZeneca.

On 5 January, Brazil's Foreign Ministry confirmed the purchase of Oxford vaccine doses produced in India, despite the Indian government's announcement that the vaccine's export was banned. The statement also mentioned plans to distribute the vaccines to Brazilian states within a few days of authorization from the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and highlighted the successful acquisition of the doses with an example of the "excellent relations" between the two countries.