(Reuters) – World Bank President David Malpass urged countries to enter contracts for vaccines now so they could get delivery schedules, saying it was vital to get started in more countries and work through more channels.
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* Germany’s government and health chiefs urged the public to take AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, while Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he was confident that restaurants could be allowed to partially open soon.
* Recreational venues in Finland’s capital region will be closed for two weeks, the Regional State Administrative Agency said, to curb a rise in infections in Helsinki and eight surrounding municipalities.
* Spain will give a single vaccine dose to under 55-year-olds who have already been infected with COVID-19, the Health Ministry said.
* Moldova’s medical agency said it had approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
* Belgium put on hold an expected relaxation of restrictions after hospital admissions of people infected with COVID-19 spiked.
* Poland will raise the upper age limit for people being given the AstraZeneca vaccine to 69, from 65 previously.
* Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a bill that gives indemnity to vaccine makers if their COVID-19 shots cause adverse side-effects.
* India said it would let people choose their coronavirus vaccination centres when the campaign expands next week, effectively letting beneficiaries pick either a home-grown shot or the AstraZeneca one, unlike now.
* Indonesia has authorised a private vaccination scheme to run alongside its national programme, so that companies can buy vaccines procured by the state for employees, a ministerial regulation showed.
* South Korea began its inoculation campaign, with shots to be administered in some 200 nursing homes.
* Taiwan could begin administering its home-made COVID-19 vaccines as early as July, the health minister said, with the island still awaiting the arrival of imported vaccines to begin its immunisation campaign.
* A panel of expert advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began a meeting to discuss Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, setting the stage for a possible emergency use authorization as early as this week.
* Argentina has received 904,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine in its first delivery from the Chinese drug maker, while an Argentine laboratory has struck a deal to help produce Russia’s vaccine Sputnik V.
* Canada’s drug regulator approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the third to have been given a green light.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Israel has administered at least one vaccine shot to 50% of its population, while 35% have received the full two-dose course, the health minister said.
* Ivory Coast was due to receive a shipment of vaccines from the sharing facility COVAX on Friday, becoming the second country to benefit from the programme.
* Europe’s medicines regulator said that an antibody drug combination developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals can be used to treat COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen support and are at high risk of progressing to severe illness.
* The European Union’s medicines regulator is expected to recommend drugmaker Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on March 11.
* Oil prices will stage a steady recovery this year as vaccines reach more people and speed an economic revival, with further impetus coming from stimulus and output discipline by top crude producers, a Reuters poll showed.
* Canada’s budget deficit from April to December widened to C$248.17 billion ($195.8 billion) from a deficit of C$10.97 billion a year earlier, as the government provided massive pandemic supports, the finance ministry said.
(Compiled by Veronica Snoj and Jagoda Darlak; editing by Larry King and Gareth Jones)