(Reuters) – Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are struggling to recover from the coronavirus crisis as underfunded public health systems exacerbate economic woes, the World Bank said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England increased to around 1 in 70 people in the week ending Oct 2, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said, reaching its highest level since the end of August.
* The Danish Health Agency said it was continuing to offer Moderna’s vaccine to under-18s, and that a statement on Wednesday suggesting a suspension had been a miscommunication.
* Russia has repeatedly delayed inspections by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) necessary for the certification of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union, the EU’s ambassador to Moscow was quoted as saying on Friday. The country reported yet another largest single-day death toll it has recorded since the pandemic began.
* Spain’s coronavirus incidence dropped below 50 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, reaching the threshold considered “low risk” by the Health Ministry for the first time in over a year.
* President Joe Biden on Thursday said more U.S. businesses should oblige workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
* Brazil is in talks to buy up to 150 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for next year, while Panama is purchasing 3 million additional doses.
* Australian doctors warned a too-rapid easing of restrictions in Sydney could put pressure on health systems and risk lives, as the country’s biggest city prepares for an end to more than 100 days in lockdown next week.
* Singapore is working on allowing quarantine-free entry to travellers from the United States who are vaccinated before the end of the year.
* Malaysia has granted conditional approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be used as a booster shot.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Nigeria’s president unveiled a record 16.39 trillion naira ($39.99 billion) budget for 2022, with a projected 25% year-on-year rise in government spending as the economy struggles with the impact of the pandemic.
* Two Indian drugmakers have requested permission to end their late-stage trials on Merck & Co’s experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir in moderate COVID-19 patients. Aurobindo Pharma Ltd and MSN Laboratories plan to continue late-stage trails of the drug for those with mild illness, the Indian drug regulator’s expert committee said on Friday.
* Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have asked U.S. regulators to authorize emergency use of their vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a group for whom no shot is currently allowed, Pfizer said on Thursday.
* U.S. stock markets rose on Friday after data showed U.S. employment increasing far less than expected in September amid a decline in government payrolls. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The euro zone’s economic recovery is facing frictions and imbalances that could hold it back and last beyond the end of the pandemic, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said.
* U.S. employment increased far less than expected in September amid a decline in government payrolls, but hiring could pick up in the months ahead as infections subside and people resume the search for work.
* Japan’s household spending fell more sharply than expected in August, as a state of emergency curbs to combat the pandemic weighed on consumption.
(Compiled by Anita Kobylinska and Ramakrishnan M.; Edited by Sriraj Kalluvila)