(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will sign orders to speed delivery of coronavirus stimulus checks and food aid, while Europe’s vaccination drive was dealt another blow when AstraZeneca said initial deliveries to the region will fall short of the targeted volumes.
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* The European Commission will seek clarification from Pfizer over delays reported by EU countries for the delivery of vaccines next week, a spokesman for the EU executive said.
* British PM Boris Johnson said the new English variant of COVID-19 may be associated with a higher level of mortality.
* Finland will put in place stricter regulations from Jan. 27 for entering the country, while Belgium is banning residents from taking vacations abroad until March.
* Greece will loosen more lockdown restrictions on Feb. 1.
* Indian PM Narendra Modi said India was completely self-reliant on vaccine supplies as it inoculated more than 1 million people within a week of starting its campaign.
* Japan and the IOC stood firm on their commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied a report of a possible cancellation.
* The WHO said it had reached an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses of its vaccine and should be able to start delivering vaccines to poor and lower-middle income countries next month under its COVAX programme.
* Mexico said the administration of second doses of the Pfizer vaccines could be delayed.
* Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla has reassured him it would supply Canada with 4 million doses of vaccine as scheduled by March 31.
* Groups representing the U.S. travel industry and airlines voiced opposition to mandatory quarantines for air passengers arriving in the United States from overseas.
* A variant of the novel coronavirus already accounts for about half of new infections in the Brazilian Amazonian city of Manaus, raising concerns about a greater risk of spread, a researcher warned.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Morocco received 2 million doses of Astrazeneca’s vaccine, becoming the first African country to get a large enough shipment to roll out a nationwide immunisation programme.
* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said China had approved delivery of a second consignment of the CoronaVac vaccine.
* Mali has chosen to use the AstraZeneca vaccine in its plan to initially immunise 4.2 million people.
* Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, which has been authorized for use in India, proved safe and produced an immune response in a small group of adults aged 18 to 55, a study showed.
* BioNTech is to supply 50 million specialty needles at no profit to countries struggling to extract a sixth dose from vials of its vaccine.
* A gauge of stocks across the world slipped from record highs and oil prices fell to end the week little changed as weak economic data and underwhelming earnings drove investors to reverse some recent risky bets.[MKTS/GLOB]
* European Central Bank policymakers are set to delve deeper at their next meeting into how they measure borrowing costs in the virus-hit euro zone economy after failing to reach an agreement this week, four sources told Reuters.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Charles Regnier; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sriraj Kalluvila)