(Reuters) – * A United States’ proposal to discuss waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines will intensify talks on the issue within the World Trade Organization, the WTO director general said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* The third wave of the pandemic appears to be broken, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said, as social distancing measures and an accelerating vaccination campaign help lower the infection rate.
* He added that the main challenge to raising production of COVID-19 vaccines is how to quickly and effectively transfer technology, reiterating Berlin’s opposition to a U.S. proposal to waive patent protection.
* Britain’s panel of vaccine advisers on Friday said that people under 40 should be offered an alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot where possible, due to a small risk from rare blood clots.
* The governors of two more U.S. states said they were lifting most restrictions that were put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus after sharp drops in infection rates and deaths.
* India reported another record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million, as its vaccination rate falls dramatically due to a lack of supplies and transport problems.
* The main opposition leader warned that unless the deadly second wave was brought under control it would decimate India as well as threaten the rest of the world.
* Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas until the end of May to stem a surge in novel coronavirus cases fuelled by the spread of virus variants just months before the Tokyo Olympics.
* Hong Kong authorities said residents who have been fully vaccinated can spend a shorter time in quarantine if they have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient, after thousands of people were sent to tiny quarantine quarters for up to 21 days.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Tunisia will impose a full lockdown against COVID-19 for one week from Sunday, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said.
* All public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to take a COVID-19 vaccination, the human resources ministry said, without specifying when this would be implemented.
* Ghana received 350,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, which will enable it start offering second doses of the shot after it nearly ran out, the health ministry said.
* The World Health Organization (WHO) expects news on Friday regarding an emergency use listing for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Chinese state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm, a WHO spokesman said.
* India’s Biological E. Ltd will soon start Phase III trials of its COVID-19 vaccine and plans producing 75 million to 80 million doses a month from August, its managing director told Reuters.
* Global stocks headed for their first weekly gain in three weeks amid a surge in commodity prices, while traders braced for a U.S. jobs report later on Friday that could provide clues on when the Federal Reserve will ease back on monetary stimulus.
(Compiled by Federico Maccioni, Aditya Soni and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D’Silva)