EU backs Poland plan to donate 1.2m extra vaccine doses to Ukraine: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Updated 02:53, 11-Feb-2021
Aden-Jay Wood


Spain has become the third country in Europe to pass 3 million cases since the start of the pandemic after reporting 16,402 new infections in the past 24 hours.

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said its capital Athens will enter a stricter lockdown from Thursday until at least February 28, with schools and non-essential shops closing amid a surge in new cases.

•  Experts at the World Health Organization have said the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine could be used on people over the age of 65 and in places where variants were present. The recommendations come after countries across Europe restricted the use of the jab on the elderly, citing a lack of data.

•  Greece's restaurant and cafe owners have called for more government support to help them survive past the pandemic. "I can't go on, we can't go on," said 43-year-old cafe owner Dimitris Katsaros.

•  Spain's health ministry has warned that those under the age of 55 who have contracted the virus and don't suffer from significant health problems would have to wait at least six months before receiving a vaccine as chances of reinfection within that time are "exceptional."

•  The European Commission will support Poland's intention to deliver an additional 1.2m doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca jab to Ukraine, the Ukrainian government said.

•  Europe's drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, has said it has not received an application seeking approval of Russia's Sputnik V jab, but the vaccine's developers have expressed an interest that their shot be considered for review.

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has enlisted German firm IDT Biologika as a contracted manufacturer of its vaccine as Germany and the EU seek to speed up their inoculation programs.

•  The number of people infected with the variant first discovered in the UK is on the rise in Denmark, with the mutation accounting for 27 percent of positive cases in the first week of February, up from 20 percent the week before.

Estonia is working with the World Health Organization on a pilot project on how globally recognized 'vaccine passports' could work. The digital document could allow people to travel more freely after they have been vaccinated.

Alex Gorsky, the CEO of vaccine producer Johnson & Johnson has said people could have to get vaccinated every year for at least the next few years due to mutations of the virus. "Every time it mutates, it's almost like another click of the dial, so to speak, where we can see another variant," he said.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has urged people not to book international holidays "right now" as the country continues to battle against the new variants of the virus.





Toni Waterman in the Brussels

Some 20,000 lawyers in Belgium have backed an open letter that criticizes the government's heavy-handed use of ministerial decrees to impose coronavirus measures without first holding a parliamentary debate and a democratic vote. 

They say the decrees are open to interpretation and are therefore applied unevenly. "We are concerned about this erosion of the rule of law," they wrote in the newspaper Le Soir. 

Belgium entered a second national lockdown in November, which remains in place. 

Meanwhile, the number of new daily infections continues to fall, down 7 percent in the past week to an average of 2,204 a day. However, hospitalizations are a mixed picture and are once again on the rise. 



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Andrew Wilson in the UK

Mass immunisation could turn coronavirus into a mild cold even if it can't stop the variants from causing illness. The Oxford Vaccine Group has told the government it believes that vaccination will have a huge impact on transmission of the virus in Britain.

The gup says it's undecided about the need for autumn booster jabs against variants of the virus.

The government is being urged to extend the number of countries currently under a travel ban into the UK. The opposition Labour Party says variants can enter the UK via multiple backdoors as virus strains move about.

The British Beer and Pub Association said trading restrictions last year cost the sector $10 billion – a fall in sales of 56 percent.


Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said its capital Athens will enter a stricter lockdown from Thursday. /AP

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said its capital Athens will enter a stricter lockdown from Thursday. /AP


Ross Cullen in Paris

France has passed the mark of 80,000 deaths from the pandemic, with another 508 fatalities registered in the past 24 hours. However, the number of new cases in the past 24 hours was lower than the 23,000 new infections recorded one week ago. 

Today, there will be another meeting of France's special Health Defence Council, which comprises the president, the prime minister and senior ministers. A third national lockdown remains on the table for consideration by the government. 

On February 9, members of parliament approved extending the state of health emergency in France until at least June 1. 

The measure, which was first brought in during spring 2020 and which was then restarted in October 2020, allows the government to introduce measures such as curfews, travel restrictions and lockdowns, both local and national, to combat the pandemic.


Rahul Pathak in Madrid

Spain has become the third country in Western Europe, after the UK and France to pass 3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The news late on Tuesday came on the day the country's health ministry reported a daily death toll of 766, the highest daily rise since April last year.

However the 14-day infection rate has dropped to 630 per 100,000 people, suggesting the third wave has nearly run its course.

Spain's new health minister, Carolina Darias, said pressure on the country's intensive care units was easing, adding that she expected the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs to peak by the end of the week.




Julia Chapman in Budapest

Hungary has outlined the groups that should not be vaccinated with Russia's Sputnik V.

The National Institute of Pharmacy and Food Health announced that pregnant women, under-18s or anyone with a chronic illness or autoimmune disease should avoid the vaccine. 

It said side effects could include short-term flu-like symptoms after inoculation. 

It comes after Hungarian regulators authorized the use of Sputnik V in the country. The vaccine will be used in hospitals, where it can be kept cool and stored safely. Some 3,000 doses are ready for use, with a further 20,000 being verified. 


Aljosa Milenkovic in Belgrade

This Wednesday brings another important milestone in the vaccination against COVID-19 for Serbia. 

Not only will the immunization of almost 600,000 people with a second dose begin, but also another half a million doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine is due to to arrive at Belgrade's airport. 

With the increased deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Russian Sputnik V vaccines, Serbia continues to immunize its population at a fast pace. 

The government claims the reason for its success is a decision to acquire vaccines from various sources through bilateral agreements. 

Currently, Serbians can choose whether they'll take the Sinopharm, Sputnik V, or Pfizer vaccine. The country is soon to add the Oxford University-AstraZeneca jab.


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