(Reuters) -Doses of COVID-19 vaccines rejected as countries fine-tune their inoculation campaigns will go to poor countries where possible to counter a “shocking imbalance” in distribution, international health officials said.
More than 700 million jabs have been administered worldwide, but low income countries received just 0.2%, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.
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* The European Commission is seeking governments’ approval to launch talks with Pfizer and BioNTech to buy up to 1.8 billion doses to be delivered in 2022 and 2023, an EU official said.
* Britain was mourning Prince Philip who died on Friday but people were asked not to gather in crowds or to lay flowers at royal palaces due to distancing guidelines imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus.
* Lockdown measures will be eased from Monday in six Italian regions, the health ministry ruled on Friday, even as the nationwide daily death toll remains well above 400.
* Aiming to revive its tourism industry and get ahead of rival destinations, Malta plans to offer foreign visitors a handout of up to 200 euros ($238.10) each if they stay at least three days on the Mediterranean island this summer.
* Johnson & Johnson will ship relatively few shots around the U.S. until it receives regulatory clearance for a plant in Baltimore, a top White House Health official said.
* Brazil’s Sao Paulo state will begin easing restrictions from Monday, vice governor Rodrigo Garcia said, after the country set on Thursday a daily record of 4,249 deaths.
* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attacked a Supreme Court justice after the judge ordered Congress to begin a probe of the federal government’s pandemic response.
* Mexico will expand vaccinations to adults over 50 at the end of April, its president said.
* Australia said it had ordered more alternatives for the AstraZeneca vaccine, setting back its vaccination rollout, and Hong Kong delayed deliveries of the shot amid concern about a possible very small risk of rare blood clots.
* India reported another record number of new infections and daily deaths hit their highest in more than five months.
* Japan placed Tokyo under a new, month-long state of “quasi-emergency” to combat surging infections.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Tunisia’s government will review the curfew it has brought in to slow infections, after the president and a powerful labour union said it would hit shops, cafes and restaurants in the month of Ramadan that starts next week.
* Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE on Friday asked U.S. regulators to allow the emergency use of their vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 15.
* Europe’s drug regulator said it is reviewing rare blood clots in four people in the United States who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
* The S&P 500 and the Dow notched record closing highs on Friday after solid U.S. inflation data and an uptick in Treasury yields suggested the economic recovery from the pandemic-related recession was gaining momentum. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Canada added far more jobs than expected in March, bringing employment to within 1.5% of pre-pandemic levels, though economists warned fresh lockdowns imposed this month would temporarily undo some gains.
* German exports rose in February, boosted by surging trade with China in a fresh sign that factories are busy in Europe’s largest economy despite a sharp drop in trade with the United Kingdom after Brexit.
(Compiled by Ramakrishnan M., Juliette Portala and Jagoda Darlak; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Anil D’Silva)