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More German Restrictions Loom; U.S. Deaths Fall

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Germany may come under pressure to impose a harder lockdown as the third coronavirus wave ripples through the European Union’s most populous country.

RELATED: New U.S. COVID-19 Cases Under 200K; Deaths Down For 4th Straight Day

Virus Update

The U.S. added 758 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, the fewest since Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Reported new infections also declined to the lowest in three days.

Europe’s struggling immunization program continues to strain relations with the U.K. The EU will block exports of U.K.-made AstraZeneca vaccines if the company fails to deliver the doses bought by the region on time, according to an EU commissioner. The first exports of vaccines from Britain to Europe may soon be headed for Ireland, the Sunday Times reported.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases pass 126.5 million; deaths exceed 2.7 million Vaccine Tracker: More than 528 million shots given the worldwide mystery of Italian town’s 29 million shots strains EU-Astra tiesYounger Brazilians are dying from Covid in an alarming new shift. Rising Covid case counts in the young test U.S. vaccine strategyMass live concert offers a glimpse of music in post-pandemic era Covid keeps spreading death where vaccines haven’t reachedVaccinated Britain is about to face its biggest Covid test yet

German Restrictions in Focus (9:20 a.m. NY)

Germany may come under pressure to impose a harder lockdown as the infection rate in the nation returns to January levels. The topic will be front and center when Chancellor Angela Merkel is interviewed on the Anne Will show on German state television Sunday night.

Bild newspaper reported an emergency meeting between Merkel and state leaders could decide what course of action in the coming days. German cases topped 28,000 on Saturday, more than three times the rate at the start of the month, underscoring the challenge facing authorities as they attempt to curb the pandemic’s spread.

Zimbabwe to Issue Vaccine Passports (10:10 a.m. NY)

Zimbabwe will begin issuing vaccine “passports” this week, the state-owned Sunday News reported, allowing inoculated travelers to enter and exit the country. The Southern African nation has vaccinated 65,466 people for the first dose and 7,965 people for the second dose as of March 27, according to Health Ministry data. Four vaccines including Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covaxin, and Sputnik have been granted emergency authorization use in the country.

U.S. Death Toll Slows (8:15 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added 758 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, the fewest since Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Reported new infections declined to about 63,000, the lowest in three days and a fraction of peaks of more than 300,000 daily cases in late December and early January.

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Vaccinations are picking up in the U.S., with 75% of the population on pace to be covered within an estimated four months, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Some 3.5 million doses were administered on Saturday, more than the average of 2.7 million over the previous seven days.

EU Makes Astra Ultimatum (7:28 a.m. NY)

The EU will block AstraZeneca exports if the company fails to deliver the doses bought by the region on time, according to Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner in charge of fixing the bloc’s vaccination drive.

AstraZeneca has met about 30% of its commitment to deliver 70 million doses to the EU in the second quarter, Breton said on RTL radio Sunday.“As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t make good on its obligations, everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans,” he said.

Russian President Putin Targets Summer Immunity (7:54 a.m. NY)

Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that Russia will reach herd immunity by the end of the summer as it ramps up its vaccine rollout, he said in an interview to state television on Sunday. This will pave the way for a significant easing of restrictions, he said.

U.K. Plans to Offer Spare Vaccines to Ireland (6:38 a.m. NY)

Britain is planning to offer 3.7 million Covid jabs to the Republic of Ireland, in part to help lift the lockdown in Northern Ireland, saying it would be the first time the U.K. has exported vaccines to the EU, the Sunday Times reported.

Britain expects to receive the first doses of the U.S.-made Moderna Inc. vaccine within weeks, a government minister said Sunday.

Iran’s Coronavirus Cases Spike (5:24 a.m. NY)

Iran reported 8,751 new daily cases, the highest number in more than three months after millions defied government guidelines and traveled during a weeklong public holiday, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Vaccine Internationalism in Belgrade (4:52 p.m. HK)

People from Western Balkan states converged on Serbian capital Belgrade this weekend as Serbia decided to inoculate foreign citizens, state news agency Tanjug reported. About 9,600 people were vaccinated at three locations in Belgrade yesterday, with another 8,500 expected today, said Assembly president Nikola Nikodijevic. One motive for the foreign offer was that Serbia found itself with excess doses of AstraZeneca vaccine due to expire March 29, according to Bosnian news portal Klix.

Italy Sees Restrictions Easing in Summer (4:07 p.m. HK)

As Italy seeks to speed up its vaccination campaign, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he is confident that the country will see restrictions easing during the summer, according to an interview published by Messaggero. Current three-tiered restrictions are expected to remain in place until the end of April, Speranza added.

Italy will be able to administer 300,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses per day by next week, Repubblica reported.

China Gives Over 100 Million Doses of Covid-19 Vaccines (3:46 p.m. HK)

China had administered more than 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of March 27, Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, said at a press conference on Sunday.

The NHC has dispatched working groups to some Chinese provinces to support and guide vaccinations as the nation speeds up its inoculation efforts, Mi said. The daily number of doses administered has exceeded 3 million since China started to provide daily updates on the data on March 24, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Wang Huaqing, an expert with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said protection from the Chinese Covid-19 vaccines may last more than six months, although more researches are needed on its efficacy.

South Africa Plans to Vaccinate 200,000 People Daily, Times Says (3:40 p.m. HK)

South Africa is targeting vaccinating about 200,000 people a day from mid-May as the government seeks to scale-up inoculations to tackle the pandemic, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

The government has set up 2,000 centers where the doses would be administered, Mkhize told the Sunday Times newspaper.

Shortages of doses threaten to upend South Africa’s plans to vaccinate two-thirds of a population of about 60 million people this year, though the country is set to take delivery of 2.8 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the end of April. South Africa has been slow to secure vaccines, with just over 230,000 people inoculated so far.

Philippine Capital Back in Lockdown as Virus Cases Surge (3:12 p.m. HK)

The Philippines placed the Manila region and nearby provinces under lockdown for a week from Monday to stem the nation’s worst coronavirus surge that’s overwhelming hospitals in its key economic area.

The national capital region and the adjacent Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces will be under an enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, the nation’s strictest classification of movement curbs, from March 29 to April 4, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday. A curfew from 6 pm to 5 am will be imposed during the lockdown.

Indonesia Expects More Sinovac and AstraZeneca Vaccines (11:46 a.m. HK)

Indonesia has received about 53.5 million vaccine doses by Sinovac and AstraZeneca, and more are expected to arrive, President Joko Widodo said on Twitter, encouraging his people to get inoculated. The vaccines are safe and lawful for Muslims, he said.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Saturday that the Covax vaccine delivery from AstraZeneca will be delayed for March and April as India halted shipments for domestic use. The Indonesian government is in talks to see if at least some of the more than 10 million delayed doses could still be delivered so that it can maintain its vaccination pace.

The country has administered 10.5 million shots so far, as nearly 500,000 people were inoculated on Saturday, compared with just tens of thousands a day in January.

Venezuela Opposition Leader Juan Guaido Tests Positive (09:39 a.m. HK)

Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela, has tested positive for Covid-19, he said on his Twitter account Saturday.

“Symptoms are mild,” he said in a tweet. Guaido is recognized by the U.S. and about 50 other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Brazil Deaths Stuck at More Than 3,000 (7:03 a.m. HK)

Brazil added more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths for the second consecutive day and almost 86,000 new infections, reflecting the severity of a surge that is increasingly striking young people.

Both numbers are close to records reached this week. The latest daily death toll of 3,438 was the second-highest in Brazil since the pandemic began.

More than 310,000 people have died from Covid in Latin America’s biggest country, the most in the world except for the U.S.

U.S. Vaccine Pace Picks Up (6:17 a.m. HK)

The pace of U.S. vaccinations has picked up, with 75% of the population on track to be vaccinated within four months, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. On Saturday, 3.5 million doses were administered, more than an average of 2.68 million daily doses over the last seven days. A total of 140.2 million doses have been administered in the U.S., the most globally.

President Joe Biden this week set a goal of vaccinating 200 million people in his first 100 days in office. Nearly all U.S. states have set dates for opening eligibility to all adults before the May 1 goal Biden set.

Birx Says Too Many Died (4:45 p.m. NY)

Deborah Birx, the former White House coronavirus response coordinator, said that U.S. deaths from the virus could have been sharply reduced if mitigation efforts to slow the spread had come more quickly last spring.

“The first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge,” Birx told CNN. “All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”

She’s one of several former Trump administration health officials — and one who continues in the Biden administration, Anthony Fauci — who’ll speak on a CNN special on Sunday night.

The US passed 500,000 Covid-19 deaths in February and has now lost an estimated 548,000 lives to the virus.

Ontario Cases Spike (2:30 p.m. NY)

Ontario, Canada’s largest province, reported 2,453 new Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day total in more than two months, and 16 more deaths from the virus. Over a third of the infections came from Toronto, the country’s most populated city, and comes as the provincial government imposed stricter measures on two regions and loosened restrictions on five others.

Toronto is trying to accelerate the rate of vaccinations. On Friday, municipal authorities expanded eligibility to residents 70 and above, urging people to get the vaccine if they could at city-run clinics. Covid variants are surging in Canada — as of Saturday, nearly 40% of new cases concerned variants of the virus.

Mexico Excess Deaths Top 400,000 (12:40 p.m. NY)

Excess deaths in Mexico for 2020 and early 2021 exceeded 417,000, more than double the current official number of fatalities from the coronavirus, the federal government reported.

On Thursday Mexico became the third country with more than 200,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths, trailing only U.S. and Brazil, countries with much larger populations.

Vermont Record Hits Younger People (12:10 p.m. NY)

Vermont reported a record 251 new infections on Friday, only four of which in people aged 65 and over. Health Commissioner Mark Levine said at a briefing that half the cases were people under age 30, the Burlington Free Press reported. He attributed the shift in the disease to younger people to vaccinations, which have gone to the elderly and most vulnerable, though they will open up to all adults starting April 19.

Levine urged residents not to let their guard down against the disease. “This is especially important among younger Vermonters who will be the last age groups eligible” for vaccines, he said, according to a statement.

Poland Weighs Curfews (11:40 a.m. NY)

Poland expects new cases to peak in a week after a record surge, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said in an interview with RMF FM. If infections continue to multiply, the cabinet will consider curfews among new measures to suppress the virus. The nation recorded 31,757 new infections, 20% more than a week ago.

The nation is working on relocating patents from Silesia, the hardest-hit region, to other hospitals in Poland that still have some capacity, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said at the press conference. Over 75% of hospital beds prepared for Covid-19 patients are occupied.

China Looks to UAE for Production (10:52 a.m. NY)

China wants to expedite joint production of Covid-19 vaccines with the United Arab Emirates, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the emirates’ state-run WAM news agency.

The two countries will also work on an international mechanism to exchange vaccine certificates, Yi said, without giving further details. The UAE was the first country to approve China’s Sinopharm vaccine, in December 2020.

Ireland Vaccines Diverted (10:28 a.m. NY)

Ireland suspended vaccinations at one of its biggest private hospitals after doses intended for patients there were given to teachers at a school instead. The move by the Beacon Hospital was “entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” health minister Stephen Donnelly said. The issue has touched a nerve in Ireland amid a perceived slow vaccination rollout and fraying support for a lockdown that has been in place since Christmas.

Airbus Forecast Stands Despite Third Covid Wave (07:23 a.m. NY)

Airbus SE’s chief financial officer is confident the planemaker can meet its earnings and delivery forecasts for the current year despite order cancellations and a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic depressing air travel.

“We had included the current development in our outlook and hence have no reason at this time to doubt that we can meet our forecast for this year,” Dominik Asam told German daily Boersen-Zeitung in an interview. “Airlines will need our aircraft once demand turns. I don’t know if there will be setbacks in fighting Covid-19, but we believe things will turn for the better in the second half.”

The company on Feb. 18 forecast that it will deliver the same number of commercial aircraft this year as it did in 2020 when the number declined to 566 jets from 863 in 2019. It expects to generate adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2 billion euros ($2.36 billion) and for its free cash flow to break even before any potential acquisitions and customer financing.

Novavax’s Covid-19 Vaccine Trials Start in India (06:14 p.m. HK)

Trials of Novavax Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine have started in India, with the aim of launching it by September, according to Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer at local partner Serum Institute of India Pvt.

The vaccine has been tested against African and U.K. variants of the virus and has shown an overall efficacy of 89%, Poonawalla said on Twitter.

The news comes amid rising pressure on the government to inoculate millions of its citizens to protect them from a surge in infections. Arresting the so-called second wave will be crucial for the economy to recover from the world’s strictest lockdown last year.

French Minister Urges End to Vaccine Nationalism (5:10 p.m. HK)

French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher urged countries with large vaccination capacities to join the EU in shipping vaccines to the rest of the world to limit the spread of new variants. France is aiming to inoculate 30 million citizens by the end of June.

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Article Source: MSN News

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