(Reuters) – Australia has asked the European Commission to review its decision to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, while the U.S. Senate put off the start of a contentious debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* A French cabinet minister urged EU countries not to use the Russian or Chinese COVID-19 vaccines unless they are approved by the bloc’s medicines regulator, warning of a risk to the bloc’s unity and public health.
* Italy’s central Lazio region, which includes the capital Rome, asked the national government to consider producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine once the European Union regulator gives its green light.
* Denmark’s health authority said it would recommend giving AstraZeneca’s vaccine to everyone aged over 18 after a vaccination study from Scotland showed positive results across all ages.
* The European Union is planning to extend its export authorisation scheme for vaccines to the end of June, two EU sources told Reuters, as a shipment of AstraZeneca shots from the EU to Australia was blocked.
* Canada’s drug regulator has approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the fourth such shot to be given the green light, the government said, amid frustration over the slow start to the country’s inoculation program.
* Under pressure from an anti-corruption watchdog that publicly urged Honduras to come clean about a snag in its plans to buy millions more coronavirus vaccine doses through the COVAX program, the government said it plans to buy from Russia.
* Brazil’s Health Ministry is in talks to receive 13 million doses of Moderna Inc’s vaccine in 2021, plus an additional 50 million for delivery by the end of January 2022, according to a ministry document seen by Reuters.
* New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top advisers had successfully pushed the state’s health officials to strip a public report of data that showed more nursing-home residents had died of COVID-19 than were acknowledged by the administration, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported.
* Japan extended a state of emergency in the Tokyo area by two weeks to try to combat COVID-19, prompting a “heartfelt apology” by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
* Australia has asked the European Commission to review its decision to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, as countries importing EU-made shots fear a potential impact on supplies.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa is negotiating with an African Union (AU) platform to buy COVID-19 vaccines for at least 10 million of its people, a senior health official said.
* A doctor who has spent the past year treating COVID-19 patients became the first person in Nigeria to be vaccinated against the disease, kicking off a mammoth campaign that aims to inoculate 80 million people this year.
* Takeda Pharmaceutical said it had asked regulators to approve use of Moderna’s vaccine, which would add a third option to Japan’s vaccination programme.
* Democrats in the U.S. Senate said they had modified President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to steer more aid to smaller U.S. states as lawmakers prepared to begin a lengthy debate on the bill.
(Compiled by Bartosz Dabrowski and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)