(Reuters) – World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on more pharmaceutical companies on Friday to share manufacturing facilities to help ramp up the production of COVID-19 vaccines.
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* Britain wants to have offered all adults over the age of 50, its most vulnerable people and health workers a vaccination against COVID-19 by May.
* Greece tightened lockdown restrictions in parts of the country including capitol Athens. [L8N2KB667]
* Spain approved AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for use in people aged 18 to 55, while Madrid health authorities confirmed the region’s first case of the Brazilian COVID-19 variant.
* Hotels, cinemas and theatres will reopen in Poland from mid-February at maximum half capacity.
* The Czech Republic may consider using vaccines not yet registered in the EU to speed up inoculations, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Friday, on a trip to Hungary which has given emergency approval to Russian and Chinese vaccines.
* Ukraine has secured from the Serum Institute of India 12 million coronavirus vaccine doses developed by AstraZeneca and Novavax.
* A panel of South Korean advisers has urged caution over the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people older than 65, citing a lack of data, the food and drug safety ministry said, as the country granted conditional approval to Celltrion Inc’s COVID-19 antibody treatment.
* President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress forged ahead with their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package as lawmakers neared passage of a budget plan that would allow them to muscle it through in the coming weeks without Republican support.
* The Biden administration is exploring every option for increasing manufacturing of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is under regulatory review.
* The Pentagon had approved the deployment of 1,100 active-duty troops to assist with COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the United States, a number likely to rise in the coming weeks and months.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has had a negative COVID-19 test, less than two weeks after the 67-year-old announced he had contracted the virus.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa has secured enough COVID-19 vaccines for at least 26 million people and knows where it will get the remaining does it needs, the health minister said.
* Gulf state Bahrain will reintroduce restrictions on Sunday for two weeks.
* Lebanon will gradually ease strict coronavirus lockdown in force since Jan. 11 in four two-week stages starting from Monday.
* Yemen expects a first batch of 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by March through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, and Saudi Arabia could separately finance shots for around 50% of the population.
* Pfizer Inc has withdrawn an application for emergency-use authorisation of its vaccine in India, after failing to meet the drug regulator’s demand for a local safety and immunogenicity study.
* Recent data from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands has shown that the analysed coronavirus mutations are more infectious, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.
* Global equity markets scaled a new record on investor expectations of further stimulus from Washington and economic revival hopes.[MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. employment growth rebounded moderately in January and job losses in the prior month were deeper than initially thought, strengthening the case for a sizable relief package from the government.
* Indonesia’s economy suffered its first full-year contraction in over two decades in 2020.
(Compiled by Aditya Soni, Linda Pasquini and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D’Silva)