(Reuters) – Lockdowns and travel restrictions last year led to a “dramatic short-lived fall in emissions of key air pollutants, the World Meteorological Organization said, with fine particle pollution falling by more than a third across parts of Asia.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* AstraZeneca and the European Commission have reached a settlement on the delivery of pending vaccine doses by the drugmaker, ending a row about shortages.
* Britain has started shipping vaccines to delegates attending global climate talks who cannot access them at home, with the first shots to be delivered next week.
* The prevalence of infections in England was around 1 in 70 people in the week ending August 27, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said.
* Several thousand people gathered in Bangkok to call for the resignation of the prime minister, one day before lawmakers hold a no-confidence vote over his government’s handling of the pandemic.
* Singapore will hold off on further steps to reopen the country, but sees no need to consider re-imposing heightened restrictions, a senior official said.
* China is facing growing difficulties in expanding its mass vaccination drive, but it will continue to inoculate more people and step up the programme of booster shots, a health official said.
* A leak online of the president’s vaccine certificate has heightened concern in Indonesia about information security, coming in the same week as a data breach affecting users of a government contact-tracing application.
* Although Vietnam reported a record daily increase of 14,922 infections, the country’s coronavirus epicentre Ho Chi Minh City is considering reopening economic activity from September 15.
* The United States will ship more than 1.2 million doses of vaccines to four African countries through the COVAX programme on Friday, a White House official said.
* As tourism was beginning to show signs of recovery, the Caribbean has been hit by a new wave of cases causing lockdowns, flight cancellations and overwhelming hospitals.
* In a scene replayed across the United States, angry parents and activists streamed into a meeting of the Florida’s Lake County school board on Thursday where it considered whether to mandate mask-wearing for students and staff.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa’s health minister said scientists had told the government that at this stage the C.1.2 coronavirus variant detected locally was not a threat.
* Europe’s medicines regulator said it was reviewing if there was a risk of a rare inflammatory condition after inoculation, following a report of a case with Pfizer/BioNTech’s shot.
* Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are expected to discuss on September 17 whether protection from the initial shots is waning and boosters will help.
* Weaker-than-expected jobs growth data from the United States sent a wave through the markets, leaving investors trying to work out what it means for the timing of Federal Reserve tapering of stimulus. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Euro zone business activity remained strong last month, according to a survey which suggested the bloc’s economy could be back to pre-COVID-19 levels by year-end.
* The promise of a “normal” U.S. economy this summer, which kicked off with the June revival of restaurants, air travel and baseball games, is transforming into an uncertain fall of rising health and economic risks.
(Compiled by Juliette Portala; Editing by Hugh Lawson)