(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
U.S. health body questions robustness of AstraZeneca’s data
AstraZeneca may have provided an incomplete view of efficacy data on its COVID-19 vaccine from a large-scale trial in the United States, a U.S. health agency said Tuesday.
The concerns throw into question whether the British drugmaker can seek U.S. emergency-use authorization for the vaccine in the coming weeks as planned, and come just one day after interim data from the trial had shown better-than-expected results.
The Data Safety Monitoring Board, an independent committee overseeing the trial, has “expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
Merkel banks on Easter circuit-breaker
Germany is extending its lockdown until April 18 and calling on citizens to stay at home for five days over the Easter holidays, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
In talks that ran deep into the night, Merkel pushed the leaders of Germany’s 16 states to take a tougher stance, reversing plans for a gradual re-opening of the economy agreed earlier this month after a sharp rise in the infection rate.
“We are now basically in a new pandemic. The British mutation has become dominant,” Merkel told a news conference.
Hungary deaths scale new high
Hungary cannot reopen its economy before all citizens older than 65 who have registered for a vaccine are inoculated, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday, as the country reported a record number of daily deaths.
Hungary overtook the Czech Republic on Monday for the world’s worst per capita death rate from COVID in the past seven days, according to Our World in Data.
The third wave of the pandemic crushed Orban’s tentative plan for a phased reopening of the economy from late March and early April, as a partial lockdown in effect since November was extended with the closure of schools and kindergartens. [
Denmark plans further reopening
Denmark has agreed to further ease curbs next month by letting hairdressers, spas and other services re-open, while restaurants and cinemas will be allowed to follow suit in May, contingent on the use of coronavirus “passports”.
Denmark has gradually re-opened as infection rates have dropped following lockdown measures introduced in December to curb a more contagious variant.
“With few exceptions, the Danish society is open once everyone over the age of 50 has been offered a vaccine,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
One year on from first lockdown, Britain grieves for dead
A year to the day after they were first ordered to stay at home to contain the spread of COVID-19, Britons will remember the more than 126,000 people who have lost their lives to the virus.
People were being invited to observe a minute’s silence at midday (1200 GMT) to honour the dead, and to stand on their doorsteps at 8 p.m. holding candles or torches.
Official data shows that on March 23, 2020, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson stunned the nation by ordering people to stay at home and by shutting down much of the economy, fewer than 1,000 Britons had succumbed to the novel coronavirus.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes)