(Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) exhorted the world to keep administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shots on Friday, adding its endorsement to that of European and British regulators after concerns over blood clotting.
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* Europe pushed to get its COVID-19 vaccination drive back on track after EU and British regulators said the benefits of AstraZeneca’s shot outweighed any risks.
* Coronavirus-related deaths in the European region surpassed 1 million as vaccination efforts attempt to keep up with new variants causing a third wave of infections that could once again overwhelm hospitals.
* Germany will supply general practitioners with vaccines and deliver additional doses to regions on the Czech and French borders as it seeks to get its campaign back on track.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and urged the public to do the same, saying “he did not feel a thing.”
* Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he would personally take the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
* Belgium tightened measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to preserve plans to open up the economy in May.
* Greece will lift some COVID-19 restrictions next week as part of a plan to gradually reopen the economy and relieve national fatigue even as its hospitals remain under severe pressure from stubbornly high infections.
* The U.S. government updated its COVID-19 mitigation guidance to narrow the acceptable distance between students who are wearing masks to at least three feet from at least six feet, potentially easing the path for schools that have struggled to reopen under previous recommendations.
* A third senator has died of COVID-19 in Brazil, raising questions around precautions taken in the country’s Congress where as many as one-in-three lawmakers has been infected.
* Brazil has not yet asked the U.S. government for spare COVID-19 vaccines, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
* Venezuela’s opposition, recognized by the United States as the legitimate government, said it would request Washington’s permission to use funds frozen in U.S. accounts to pay for coronavirus vaccines.
* India’s financial capital Mumbai is facing a second wave of COVID-19 that could overwhelm its health facilities after a record daily increase in cases in its home state Maharashtra.
* The Philippines recorded a record daily increase in COVID-19 infections, as authorities tightened curbs in the capital and approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Cameroon approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use, and suspended use of AstraZeneca’s shot which it was scheduled to receive on March 20 under the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.
* The WHO said its long-awaited report into the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China will probably be released next week.
* U.S. Treasury yields edged back from the highest in more than a year as investors digested the Federal Reserve’s move not to extend a temporary pandemic regulatory break expiring this month. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The world’s seven largest advanced economies moved to boost the International Monetary Fund reserves for the first time since 2009, a step aimed at helping developing countries cope with the pandemic, Britain said.
* Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns.
(Compiled by Aditya Soni, Federico Maccioni and Milla Nissi; editing by Larry King, Timothy Heritage and Shinjini Ganguli)