(Reuters) -A German military plane carrying more than 20 doctors and nurses together with ventilators and hospital beds has arrived in coronavirus-stricken Portugal, while the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility allocated at least 330 million doses of vaccine for poorer countries to be delivered in the first half of 2021.
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* More than 10 million people in Britain have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
* The 2021 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest will be held in a limited form in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in May due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers said.
* EU lawmakers questioned chief executive Ursula von der Leyen for hours on Tuesday over the slow rollout and shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as she took responsibility for an export control plan that angered Britain and Ireland.
* Olympic officials unveiled the first of many COVID-19 rules for the Tokyo Games this summer, banning singing and chanting during events and mandating participants to wear masks at “all times” except when eating, sleeping or outdoors.
* China plans to provide 10 million doses of vaccine to global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX, as three Chinese companies have applied to join the initiative for approval, the foreign ministry said.
* Strong winds threatening to fan a bushfire prompted Australia to urge thousands of people to leave their homes in Perth, complicating a lockdown after the state detected its first coronavirus infection in 10 months.
* New Zealand medicines regulator Medsafe has provisionally approved the use of a COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech.
* Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said that Venezuelan funds controlled by the U.S. Treasury Department could be used to pay for coronavirus vaccines but that President Nicolas Maduro’s government is refusing to cooperate.
* Chile launched one of Latin America’s most ambitious coronavirus vaccination programmes, having set itself the target of inoculating around five million citizens against the disease by the end of March.
* The Biden administration will launch a new program shipping coronavirus vaccines directly to retail pharmacies starting next week in an effort to increase Americans’ access to shots.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Uganda ordered 18 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and up to 40% of the shipments are expected to arrive by the end of March, the government said.
* Israel will expand COVID-19 vaccinations to include anyone over the age of 16, officials said, after turnout for shots ebbed.
* India’s Serum Institute will supply 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Novavax to the COVAX vaccine scheme as part of a new long-term deal, the head of the U.N. Children’s Fund said.
* Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline and German biotech firm CureVac have teamed up in a 150 million euro ($180 million) deal to develop a COVID-19 vaccine from next year that could target several variants with one shot.
* AstraZeneca and Oxford University aim to produce a next generation of COVID-19 vaccines that will protect against variants as soon as the autumn before the Northern Hemisphere winter, an executive at the British drugmaker said.
* World shares rose as volatility caused by a retail trading frenzy on Wall Street subsided on expectations of tougher regulation, while optimism about U.S. fiscal stimulus also supported sentiment. [MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. President Joe Biden told congressional Democrats he would not back down on including $1,400 checks for struggling Americans in his COVID-19 relief plan but would consider tighter limits on who gets them, lawmakers and aides said.
Compiled by Bartosz Dabrowski, Aditya Soni and Amy Caren Daniel;Editing by Kirsten Donovan
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