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US, EU’s immunisation drive stumbles amid vaccine shortages & other Covid news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count being over 10 crore cases and more than 21 lakh deaths.

The European Union’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign is threatened by shortages and the immunisation drive in the US also takes a hit. Meanwhile, Portugal struggles to cope with a “devastating third wave” because of the UK variant.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

Vaccine shortages, and a fight with AstraZeneca threaten EU’s campaign after only a month

The 27-nation European Union is facing a crippling shortage of the Covid-19 vaccine that has brought the immunisation drive to a halt in several places, reports The Washington Post.

“Vaccine shipments have been delayed, and EU leaders are under fire for mishandling the ordering process,” the report adds.

Some of the delays also stem from “temporarily reduced shipments by U.S.-based Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech”.

AstraZeneca has said that its delivery doses in the first quarter will be 60 per cent less than expected. AstraZeneca’s reduced production “would strongly delay the vaccination of the populace,” the report quoted Sandro Giuffrida, who manages the vaccination programme in Italy’s Calabria region, as saying.

The European Union has reported 1,79,06,888 cases and 4,25,618 deaths.

US boosting vaccine deliveries amid complaints of shortages

The US is also facing similar shortages of the Covid-19 vaccine, reports Associated Press.

Newly-elected President Joe Biden announced that the US is ramping up deliveries. Biden, “calling the push a ‘wartime effort’ said the administration was working to buy an additional 100 million doses of each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines”, the report noted.

The shortages have led to vaccination sites around the country cancelling tens of thousands of appointments. The report quoted Biden as saying, “This is unacceptable.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the government has plans to make 10.1 million doses available by next week, according to the report.

US has reported 26,166,423 cases and 4,39,521 deaths.

Also read: Covaxin, Covishield not for everyone — manufacturers list who should avoid the Covid vaccines

Portugal deemed ‘high risk’ for Brazil strain – but the UK variant is driving country’s third wave

It is the UK strain and not the Brazil mutation that is behind Portugal’s “devastating third wave”, reports The Telegraph of London.

This is especially significant as the measures announced by the Prime Minister are against the new Brazil variant.

“A report published on January 3 by the Dr Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute, which monitors the virus in Portugal, said tests had found 16 cases of the UK variant in Portugal, 10 of them in travellers at Lisbon airport,” the report notes.

The nationwide lockdown announced earlier this month is said to have done little to arrest the spread of the virus variant.

Portugal has reported 6,68,951 cases and 11,305 deaths.

Vietnam reports first local Covid-19 cases since December

Vietnam reported its first locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in nearly two months, reports The Straits Times.

Strict quarantine, testing and tracing measures had helped the country keep the number of cases to below 2000 and deaths to just 35.

Contact tracing efforts have now been launched in areas where the two infections were detected. The report also quotes Vu Duc Dam, the head of the country’s Covid-19 task force as saying, “We have to make all efforts to locate the infected areas within 10 days to put down the outbreak.”

“In awkward timing for the country’s government, the two new cases also came as the ruling Communist Party gathers in Hanoi for its five-yearly congress to pick new leadership, with 1,600 delegates from across Vietnam in attendance,” the report also notes.

Vietnam has reported 1,553 cases and 35 deaths.

Police arrest 89 foreigners at Thai bar for flouting COVID-19 rules

The police in Thailand have arrested 89 foreigners following a raid at a bar, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Officials said that the foreigners had violated coronavirus regulations and the gathering had been illegal “under a national state of emergency” declared to combat the Covid-19 situation last year.

“Those arrested were from more than 10 countries including the US, Britain, Switzerland and Denmark,” the report quoted police Colonel Suparerk Pankosol, superintendent of the provincial immigration office as saying.

According to the report, the penalty for violating the state of emergency is up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $1730.

Also read: 17% Indians in 30-69 age group may not be able to take Covaxin as they’re on blood thinner

What else we are reading:

Japan faces Olympian task with slow start to Covid vaccinations: The Guardian

Why South Africa has yet to roll out vaccines: BBC

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