(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
EU summit decisions
European Union (EU) leaders agreed at a summit on Thursday to step up production of COVID-19 vaccines in Europe and improve the rollout of inoculations across member states, European Council President Charles Michel said.
The EU is at the start of a third wave of COVID-19 infections but vaccinations are progressing steadily and the bloc is on course to have 70% of adults inoculated in the second quarter, the European Commission’s president Ursula von Leyen said on Thursday.
AstraZeneca cannot export any more COVID-19 vaccines from Europe until it makes good on its contracts with the European Union, von der Leyen said after a meeting of the leaders of the 27-nation bloc.
Biden sets 200 mln dose goal; research released on U.S. COVID response
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday he was setting a new goal of administering 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States in his first 100 days in office. He will have served 100 days by April 29.
Separately, a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week has found the United States squandered both money and lives in its coronavirus pandemic response, and could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy as well as trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it.
The research offers an early and broad start to what will likely be an intense effort in coming years to assess the response to the worst pandemic in a century.
Poor AstraZeneca messaging distracts from sound data, scientists say
Scientists who have watched with dismay a series of disputes over AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine say strong efficacy data from a large U.S. trial should lay concerns to rest, but worry the skirmishes may leave a lasting mark on public trust.
While the disputes have raised questions about AstraZeneca’s messaging and communications, what is crucial, scientists say, is that the product at the heart of all this appears sound.
“One has to distinguish between the strong, positive, data from the U.S. trial on the one hand, and the amazing ability of AstraZeneca’s press-release messaging to continually rescue defeat from the jaws of victory,” said Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London.
Mega-rich moving money, setting up trust funds
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s billionaire class amassed greater fortunes in 2020, according to Forbes, with the biggest gainers reaching unprecedented levels of wealth, helped by the trillions of dollars in recovery money from policymakers.
Now, as governments globally grapple with ballooning debt and growing social unrest, billionaires know the spotlight on their wealth will get stronger, according to Reuters interviews with seven millionaires and billionaires and more than 20 advisers to the wealthy.
Many of the wealthy are mindful of looming demands from tax authorities, and are speeding up plans to pour money into trust funds for their children, while others are taking more drastic action, by relocating to countries and areas where the tax regimes and societies are more benign for the mega-rich.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)