COVID-19 vaccine makers have told the U.S. Congress that supplies should surge in the coming weeks, while a European Union official said AstraZeneca expects to deliver less than half the vaccines it was contracted to supply to the bloc in the second quarter.
* European Union government leaders will agree to maintain curbs on non-essential travel within the EU despite the bloc’s executive asking six countries to ease border restrictions.
* Britons rushed to book foreign holidays after the government laid out plans to gradually relax restrictions.
* Sweden is preparing new measures to try to curb a resurgence in cases.
* Deaths in China – excluding Wuhan – fell slightly during the first three months of 2020, suggesting efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 reduced deaths from other causes, a study showed.
* Regional Japanese governments have requested emergency pandemic measures be lifted ahead of the March 7 scheduled end as new cases trend lower.
* India said mutated versions of coronavirus were not responsible for an upsurge in cases in two states.
* The Philippines will let thousands of its healthcare workers, mostly nurses, take up jobs in Britain and Germany if the two countries agree to donate vaccines.
* Thailand received its first batch of vaccines, with inoculations set to begin in a few days.
* The presidents of Mexico and Argentina pressed the United Nations and the world’s richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to vaccines.
* Brazil has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine, though a dispute over a supply deal means it has none to start an immunization program with.
* Colombia has approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The World Bank threatened to suspend its multi-million- dollar financing for Lebanon’s vaccinations over politicians jumping the line.
* Israel is giving small amounts of surplus vaccines to Palestinian-run territories as well as to several countries.
* South Africa’s government advisers had organised vaccines into three groups and those considered for “immediate use” were the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna shots.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to approve Pfizer and BioNTech SE’s request to store their vaccine at standard freezer temperatures instead of in ultra-cold conditions, the New York Times reported.
* Bond markets steadied, the U.S. dollar fell and stocks edged ahead after central banks from Washington to Wellington vowed to keep monetary policy loose for a long time.
* U.S. consumer confidence increased in February, with households slightly more upbeat about the labor market amid declining new infections.
* Canada’s economy will see a solid and sustained rebound this year as inoculations ramp up, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said.
* U.S. bank profits fell 36.5% in 2020 from the prior year as banks set aside massive amounts to guard against potential losses, a regulator reported.
* Hong Kong plans to run a much lower budget deficit in the coming fiscal year as the economy is expected to recover from its longest recession on record, Finance Secretary Paul Chan said.