Some health workers worry that patients’ preferences for COVID vaccine brands could slow the rollout of jabs in the US.
An increasing number of countries are joining the ranks of those limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found a link between very rare blood clots in the brain and the jab.
Almost 134 million coronavirus infections have been reported around the world since the first reported case in 2019. More than 2.9 million people have died, with the United States reporting the highest death toll of more than 560,000.
Here is a quick roundup of the latest coronavirus-related news from around the world:
The EU’s drug regulator said it is reviewing possible blood clot cases in people given the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus shot.
Four cases, one fatal, of rare clots with low blood platelets were reported among those vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot, the EMA said in a statement.
“One case occurred in a clinical trial and three cases occurred during the vaccine rollout in the USA. One of them was fatal,” it said.
The EMA has already approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use, but its rollout across the 27-nation EU is not due to start until later this month.
Countries across the world are taking measures following the EMA announcement of a link between rare blood clots in the brain and the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The French health ministry said the recipients of the first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine who are below 55 should get a second shot with a new-style messenger-RNA vaccine, like those developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Spain and Italy have also decided to limit the use of the vaccine to people aged above 60, while Belgium restricted the vaccine to people older than 56. In the United Kingdom, it is recommended that people between 18 and 29 are offered an alternative vaccine.
Australia and the Philippines limited the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, while the Africa Union dropped plans to buy the shot.
Germany needs to implement nationwide measures to break the current wave of infections as quickly as possible, Health Minister Jens Spahn told journalists.
“We need a lockdown,” he said, adding that nighttime curfews may be necessary to further reduce social contacts.
Japan’s government has approved tighter coronavirus measures for the capital Tokyo, weeks after lifting a state of emergency and with just more than 100 days until the postponed Tokyo Olympics.
The new restrictions are far less severe than the blanket lockdowns seen in other countries and mainly call for restaurants and bars to close at 8pm.
Some 26 million jobs have been lost in the region and the Caribbean due to the coronavirus pandemic, data from the International Labour Organization show.
The average employment rate in the region of some 650 million people has fallen from 57.4 percent to 51.7 percent from the outbreak of the pandemic until the end of last year. The unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean rose year-on-year from 8.3 percent to 10.6 percent.
For a third straight day, India reported a record high with 131,968 new infections in the last 24 hours. Deaths rose by 780 to a total of 167,642.
With an overall tally of 13.06 million cases, India’s caseload was the third-highest globally, behind the US and Brazil.
The COVAX vaccine facility, an international platform that aims to deliver two billion vaccines to the poorest country by the end of the year, has sent more than 38 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 102 countries and economies across six continents, six weeks after it began to roll out supplies.
The WHO has said despite India’s decision to temporarily suspend vaccines’ export from the Serum Institute (SII) to meet domestic demand, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, it is still expecting to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.