The Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 102 million people around the world, with over 2.2 million fatalities. Here are developments for January 30:

Volunteers learn to locate the deltoid muscle in the upper arm during training to prepare volunteers to be deployed to assist in the national Covid-19 vaccination programme in northern England, on January 30, 2021.
Volunteers learn to locate the deltoid muscle in the upper arm during training to prepare volunteers to be deployed to assist in the national Covid-19 vaccination programme in northern England, on January 30, 2021. (AFP)

Saturday, January 30, 2021:

Britain records 1,200 new deaths, 23,275 cases

Britain has recorded 1,200 deaths from Covid-19, down from 1,245 the day before, and a further 23,275 cases of the disease, also a decrease from a day earlier.

The figures record deaths of those who tested positive for the coronavirus within the past 28 days.

Official data showed that 8.38 million people have been given the first dose of a vaccine, up from a figure of 7.89 million people announced on Friday.

France reports 242 hospital deaths in past 24 hours

France has reported 242 new Covid-19 related deaths in hospitals and said 192 people infected with the coronavirus were admitted into intensive care.

In total, 27,242 Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment in hospital. 

Italy reports 421 coronavirus deaths, 12,715 new cases

Italy has reported 421 coronavirus-related deaths, down from 477 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 12,715 from 13,574.

Some 298,010 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, against a previous 268,750, the health ministry said.

Italy has now registered 88,279 deaths linked to Covid-19 since last February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has reported 2,542 million cases to date.

Patient s in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 20,098 on Saturday, compared with 20,397 a day earlier.

Iran imposes mandatory quarantine for travellers from Europe

Travellers to Iran from Europe will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks after testing negative upon arrival, a health official said.

Travellers from other regions, including neighbouring countries, will have to have tested negative before arrival in the country, Alireza Raisi, spokesman for the national coronavirus task force, said on state TV.

Raisi said travellers arriving from Europe should be holding negative test results, will be tested again, and will have to self-quarantine even if their test is negative, state media reported.

Turkey reports over 6,000 new cases

Turkey reported over 6,000 new coronavirus cases, according to official figures.

A total of 6,871 cases, including 658 symptomatic patients, were confirmed across the country, Health Ministry data showed.

Turkey's overall case tally is now over 2.47 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 25,865 with 129 fatalities over the past day.

As many as 7,100 more patients in the country won the battle against the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to over 2.35 million.

Pakistan secures 17 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX

Pakistan has secured 17 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine under a global scheme to deliver coronavirus treatments to developing nations, a government health official said.

About 6 million of the doses will arrive in the first quarter of 2021 under the COVAX scheme, with the remainder due by mid-year, Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, said in a statement.

Pakistan signed up last year to the vaccine sharing scheme coordinated by the World Health Organization to support lower-income countries.

Germany expects 5 million vaccine doses in next 3 weeks 

Germany says drugmakers will deliver at least 5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to the country in the next three weeks.

The Health Ministry says on Twitter that Germany has already received 3.5 million doses in the past five weeks and administered 2.2 million shots.

Health Minister Jens Spahn says the new figures for deliveries from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca were “good news after a difficult start.” Germany has given the first shot to about 2.2 percent of its 83 million population. Nearly half a million people had received both shots by Saturday.

 It’s recommended the second shot be given 21 to 28 days after the first.

Vatican Museums to reopen after virus closure

The Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, has said they will reopen on Monday after being closed for 88 days due to coronavirus restrictions, the longest closure since World War II.

The world-famous collections will open their doors to the public from Monday to Saturday, but visitors must pre-book tickets and will be given timed entry slots.

Curators used the closure, sparked by Italian government measures introduced to stem the spread of Covid-19, to carry out maintenance and refurbishment works.

That included careful dusting of 15th-century frescoes in the Sis tine Chapel, which normally attracts six million visitors a year.

Dubai rolls out China's Sinopharm vaccine

Dubai has kicked off rolling out China's Sinopharm vaccine to the general public, as coronavirus infections surged to record levels in the Middle East tourism hub, the government said.

All Emirati nationals are eligible for the vaccine, the Dubai media office said in a statement.

Last week, Dubai suspended non-essential surgeries in hospitals for a month and live music at restaurants indefinitely after daily infections of the coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates rose to their highest levels in January.

Authorities reported 3,647 new cases and 12 deaths, bringing the total number of cases and deaths from Covid-19 to 300,661 and 674 respectively.

Novavax vaccine news welcomed in South Africa

News that the Novavax vaccine has shown about 60 percent efficacy on HIV-positive patients and that it seems to work against the variant of the virus now dominant in South Africa is being welcomed with relief in the country, but further studies are urged.

Results from a small Novavax Inc. study in South Africa suggest the vaccine does work but not nearly as well as it does against the variant from Britain. Early findings from a British study suggest the vaccine is nearly 96% effective against the older coronavirus and nearly 86% effective against the new variant there.

In South Africa, the new variant now causes more than 90% of new cases and is more infectious than the original virus.

On volunteers who are HIV-positive, preliminary studies in South Africa show the Novavax vaccine appears to be 60% effective. That has been welcomed in a country where nearly 7.7 million people live with the disease.

Cases in Malaysia surge

Malaysia reported its biggest daily rise in cases for the second straight day, with 5,728 new infections recorded on Saturday.

The new cases took the cumulative total of infections to 209,661. 

The health ministry also reported 13 new deaths, raising total fatalities from the pandemic to 746

Mexico to import AstraZeneca vaccine

Mexico plans to import about 870,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine from India in February, as well as producing it locally, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico and Argentina have a deal with AstraZeneca to produce its vaccine for distribution in Latin America, with financial support from the foundation of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

"We are also getting AstraZeneca vaccines, apart from the agreement we have with them - these vaccines are being made here in Mexico - we will bring Ast raZeneca from India," Lopez Obrador said in a video broadcast on social media.

Meanwhile, deliveries of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico would "very probably" resume on Feb. 10, Lopez Obrador said, after global delivery delays by the U.S. company. Mexico was expecting about 1.5 million doses from Pfizer, he noted.

Mexico is trying to secure as much vaccine supply as possible amid delivery delays and a surge in cases. Mexico's death toll from COVID-19 was 156,579 on Friday.

Taiwan reports first death in 8 months

Taiwan's government on Saturday reported the island's first death from since May, as it battles a small and unusual outbreak of locally transmitted cases.

A woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions died after being infected with the coronavirus as part of a domestic cluster connected to a hospital, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

Taiwan took early and effective steps to control the virus, with the large majority of its 909 confirmed cases in people who caught COVID-19 abroad. The new outbreak has infe cted 19 people since the start of the month, centring on a hospital in the northern city of Taoyuan.

Chen, reporting four new cases from the hospital cluster, announced the death, bringing to eight the total number of deaths in Taiwan from the pandemic.

Indonesia reports record 14,518 new cases

Indonesia reported 14,518 new cases on Saturday, a record daily increase that brought its total number of cases to just over 1.06 million.

The country's COVID-19 taskforce also reported 210 deaths, increasing the death toll from the pandemic so far to 29,728. 

Norway to start gradual easing of capital region's lockdown

The Norwegian government will gradually loosen the capital region's lockdown, allowing some shops and recreational activities to reopen from Feb. 3 onwards, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Saturday.

The outbreak of a more contagious variant of COVID-19, first identified in Britain, had prompted the introduction of stricter measures on Jan. 23, including the closure of all non-essential stores for the first time in the pandemic.

"Infections are going down continuously in Norway and we now have a better overview over the outbreak and spread," Hoeie told a news conference.

The situation in and around the capital Oslo remains uncertain, however, and the easing will therefore be gradual, he added.

Stores that are not in shopping centres will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday, as will restaurants although alcohol cannot be served, it added.

Schools will also see fewer restrictions, allowing for more classroom teaching and bigger groups of students, although local conditions will apply.

AstraZeneca's vaccine hit by delays, disagreements in EU

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca's vaccine has become a headache, with questions about its effectiveness, and potential litigation because of delays in delivery to the European Union.

On Friday, the European Commission published the contract it signed with the drugs group, showing AstraZeneca's commitment to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine.

A day earlier, an inspection of a Belgian plant producing the vaccine was carried out at the request of the European Commission to examine production problems at the site.

Italy raised the prospect of legal action -- which would also target Pfizer -- to "get back the promised doses".

Germany's Robert Koch Institute also questioned the effectiveness of the jab among the over-65s, citing gaps in test data.

All of these tensions came as the EU mulled approval of the AstraZeneca jab which was granted on Friday. It was the third Covid vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency.

The Financial Times said on Friday the "souring" relationship with the EU "could hurt the pharma group".

WHO warns against 'vaccine nationalism'

The European Union approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus jab for use on all adults as the World Health Organization warned wealthy countries against "vaccine nationalism", saying it will only prolong the pandemic.

Coronavirus outbreaks are raging around the globe with Covid-19 deaths nearing 2.2 million, and while some parts of the world are fighting over limited vaccine supplies, there are fears the less privileged will not get access for a long time.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford became the third to get EU approval after Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, but it came under the shadow of a bitter diplomatic row with Britain over which countries will get the scarce doses currently available.

The EU-Britain tussle has highlighted the impact of shortages on ambitious mass vaccination programmes, even on wealthy nations, and fears are growing that the developed world is hogging doses, leaving poorer nations behind.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Friday against "vaccine nationalism", saying there was a "real danger that the very tools that could help to end the pandemic -– vaccines –- may exacerbate" global inequality.

Parts of Africa and Asia have only just started securing and rolling out vaccinations.

Biden says action on stimulus needed 'now'

US President Joe Biden said that Congress needs to take immediate action on his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal, adding that most economists believe additional economic stimulus is needed.

“We have to act now,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “There is an overwhelming consensus among economists ... that this is a unique moment and the cost of inaction is high.”

The president later said he supported passing Covid-19 relief with or without Republican help.

EU backtracks on restricting vaccines to Northern Ireland

The EU backtracked Friday over threats to restrict vaccine exports to Northern Ireland after London voiced "grave concerns" over the proposed move.

A furious row over shortages of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine has risked stoking conflict with the UK just weeks after London and Brussels sealed a Brexit trade agreement.

The EU had warned it would invoke Article 16 -- overriding part of a deal with London allowing the free-flow of goods over the Irish border -- but backed down after criticism from the UK and Ireland.

"The Commission will ensure that the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol is unaffected," the EU Commissioner said in a statement late Friday.

Moderna seeks FDA clearance to increase doses per vial

Moderna Inc has asked the US Food and Drug Administration for permission to fill its Covid-19 vaccine vials with up to five additional doses to ease a crunch in manufacturing, CNBC reported.

The change would allow Moderna to put 15 doses in the vials, now cleared to hold 10, the report said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Pfizer tells Panama vaccine shipments to resume mid-February

Pfizer has informed Panama that shipments of its Covid-19 vaccine will resume to the Central American country the week of February 15, the Panamanian foreign minister said.

Pfizer will deliver 450,000 doses in the first quarter of the year, said Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes.

Panama’s first batch of Pfizer vaccines on Jan. 20 was fewer than expected due to global delays by the company.

Mexican president broadcasts video, talks of improving health

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that he still has Covid-19, but that doctors have told him he has now passed the critical phase of infection.

Lopez Obrador, who has not attended any public events since announcing he had Covid-19 on Sunday evening, was speaking in a video which was shared on his Twitter account.

AstraZeneca vaccine applies for regulatory approval in Brazil

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said that a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc had applied for full regulatory approval, in a positive development for the country’s beleaguered vaccine rollout.

The submission, the first of its kind in Brazil, was made by the federally funded Fiocruz Institute, which will manufacture the British vaccine locally. A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca, whose vaccine is already approved for emergency use in Brazil, confirmed the submission.

Vietnam approves AstraZeneca vaccine

Vietnam’s health ministry approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic inoculation, the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the country, the government said as it battles its biggest outbreak yet.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had said Vietnam must try to obtain the vaccine in the first quarter to ensure people’s health.

Vietnam has kept its tally to a low 1,739 infections and 35 deaths.

Colombia reaches vaccine agreements with Moderna, Sinovac

Colombia has reached agreements for doses of Covid-19 vaccines developed by Moderna Inc and Sinovac Biotech Ltd and plans to begin a mass vaccination campaign on Feb. 20, President Ivan Duque said.

The Andean country’s government aims have at least 1 million people vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by the end of March, Duque added. Colombia, a country of about 50 million people, hopes to vaccinate some 34 million people in a bid to achieve what is known as herd immunity, when a large part of a given population becomes immune to an infectious disease like Covid-19.

Colombia previously announced agreements to secure 10 million doses each of vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and AstraZeneca PLC, as well as 9 million doses of a vaccine developed by Janssen, the pharmaceutical wing of Johnson & Johnson. It also has secured 20 million doses of vaccines via the COVAX mechanism backed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Canada to impose hotel quarantine on arriving travellers

Travellers to Canada will have to quarantine in hotels at their own expense and airlines are suspending flights to southern destinations.

New arrivals will have to pay to quarantine in hotels for up to three days under strict supervision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.

Ottawa is also stepping up Covid-19 testing while Canadian airlines have agreed to cancel flights to destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean until the end of April.

Vietnam approves AstraZeneca vaccine

Vietnam's health ministry has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic inoculation, the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the country, the government said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had said Vietnam must try to obtain the vaccine in the first quarter to ensure people's health.

Vietnam has kept its tally to a low 1,739 infections and 35 deaths.

Mexico's cases rise by 16,374

Mexico's health ministry has reported 16,374 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 1,434 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,841,893 cases and 156,579 deaths.

Macron: AstraZeneca vaccine 'quasi-ineffective' for over-65s

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine appeared not to be effective for people over 65 years of age.

Speaking to reporters only hours before the European Medicines Agency recommended the vaccine for adults of all ages, Macron also questioned Britain's decision to delay the second dose of Covid vaccines to inoculate more people.

Macron said there was "very little information" available for the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company and Oxford University.

"Today we think that it is quasi-ineffective for people over 65," he told the reporters, his office confirmed to AFP.

Coachella canceled due to pandemic

The Coachella music festival due to be held in southern California in April 2021 has been canceled by local health officials because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It was the third time the outdoor event, one of the largest music festivals in the world, had been cancelled because of the pandemic. 

AstraZeneca vaccine applies for full regulatory approval in Brazil

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said that a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc had applied for full regulatory approval, in a positive development for the country's beleaguered vaccine rollout.

The submission, the first of its kind in Brazil, was made by the federally funded Fiocruz Institute, which will manufacture the British vaccine locally. A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca, whose vaccine is already approved for emergency use in Brazil, confirmed the submission.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who says he won't take any Covid-19 shot, is under pressure for overseeing a slow and patchy vaccine rollout, just as a brutal second wave of infections gathers momentum. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the central pillar of the federal government's vaccine plan. It has ordered material to make up to 100 million shots, which will be manufactured by Fiocruz.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies