(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
AstraZeneca further cuts EU vaccine supply target
AstraZeneca cut its supply forecast of COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter to about 30 million doses, a third of its contractual obligations and a 25% drop from pledges made last month, a document seen by Reuters shows.
The shortfall is a further blow to EU’s vaccination plans already being hampered by repeated delays in supply and a slow roll-out in some nations.
Canada said on Thursday the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe after Denmark and Norway temporarily suspended its use amid reports that blood clots had formed in some people who had received the shot.
Novavax vaccine 96% effective against original coronavirus
Novavax’s vaccine was 96% effective in preventing cases caused by the original version of the coronavirus in a late-stage trial conducted in the United Kingdom, the company said on Thursday, moving it a step closer to regulatory approval.
There were no cases of severe illness or deaths among those who got the vaccine, in a sign that it could stop the worse effects of new variants that have cropped up.
The vaccine was 86% effective in protecting against the more contagious virus variant first discovered and now prevalent in the United Kingdom.
All U.S. adults to be eligible for vaccines by May
President Joe Biden told U.S. states on Thursday to make all adults eligible for a vaccine by May 1 and urged Americans to stay vigilant or face more restrictions.
In a speech on the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, Biden said if Americans pulled together there could be a greater sense of normalcy – and some backyard barbecue parties with small groups – on the U.S. Independence Day holiday on July 4.
That date is a new goal for the president amid a pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 people in the United States, the most of any country.
South Korea extends social distancing rules
South Korea will extend social distancing rules with a ban on private gatherings of more than four people in a bid to stamp out the possibility of a fourth wave of infections, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Friday.
The announcement comes as South Korea has been ramping up its immunisation drive, authorising use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for people aged 65 years and older in a bid to inoculate 70% of its 52 million residents by September.
The country has administered 546,277 doses of vaccines as of Thursday midnight.
Gym outbreak sends shivers through Hong Kong expat community
Hong Kong recorded 60 coronavirus cases on Friday, the city’s government said, as it scrambled to contain transmissions mainly among its expatriate community after a cluster at a gym spilled into the financial sector and international schools.
Hong Kong’s health department told a briefing that around 47 cases were related to the outbreak at Ursus Fitness, a gym in the trendy Sai Ying Pun district, which is popular with expatriate lawyers, bankers and hedge fund executives.
Over 240 people were sent to government quarantine due to the gym cluster, authorities said on Thursday. Many of the clients did not wear masks during their workout.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mark Heinrich)