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Health News

Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) - The European Commission will seek clarification from Pfizer over delays reported by EU countries for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines next week, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Friday.

People wait in line to enter Lord's Cricket Ground to receive the coronavirus vaccine, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, January 22, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals here for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* An EU privacy watchdog is investigating the European Parliament’s staff COVID-19 testing website after a privacy activist filed a complaint on concerns that the site could be transferring data illegally to the United States.

* The number of new infections in Britain is estimated to be shrinking by as much as 4% a day, the government said, a sharp reversal in the trajectory of the pandemic suggesting national lockdowns are beginning to have an impact.

* Denmark is registering a rise in infections with a more contagious coronavirus variant known as cluster B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain, despite seeing regular infections fall.

* Germany’s infection numbers are encouraging but remain too high, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, dampening expectations that restrictions to curb the spread of the virus could be lifted.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Japan and the IOC stood firm on their commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied a report of a possible cancellation, although the pledge looks unlikely to ease public concern about holding the event during a pandemic.

* A domestic tourism campaign promoted by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may have contributed to a sharp increase in coronavirus infections in the country, a prominent adviser to the government’s pandemic response said.

AMERICAS

* U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to join the COVAX vaccine facility could make a “huge difference” to the financing of the scheme, intended to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries, a diplomat with a lead role in COVAX said.

* Paraguay signed agreements with two pharmaceutical companies to buy 3 million doses of vaccines and plans to start vaccinations in the second half of February, Public Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said.

* Mexico’s government said the administration of second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines could be delayed and private companies will be allowed to purchase the drugs directly as the country struggles to keep a rampant pandemic in check.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* 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.

* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said China had approved delivery of a second consignment of the CoronaVac vaccine and 10 million doses could arrive in Turkey by this weekend.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Walmart Inc said it is preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccinations in seven more U.S. states as well as in Chicago and Puerto Rico, this week and next, expanding beyond the two states where its pharmacists are offering inoculations.

* BioNTech is to supply 50 million specialty needles at no profit to countries struggling to extract a sixth dose from vials of its vaccine, while Europe’s immunisation campaign is being hampered by a temporary supply shortfall.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Global equity benchmarks slipped from record highs and oil prices dipped as weaker economic data in Japan and Europe and concerns that newly-inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden’s stimulus plan may face Republican opposition curbed a weeklong rally in risk assets.[MKTS/GLOB]

* European Central Bank policymakers are set to delve deeper at their next meeting into how they measure borrowing costs in the virus-hit euro zone economy after failing to reach an agreement this week, four sources told Reuters.

Compiled by Charles Regnier and Linda Pasquini; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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