Germany considers Russian vaccine, France hits vaccine target: COVID-19 Daily Bulletin
Updated 01:58, 09-Apr-2021
Arij Limam


· More than 10 million people in France have now been given a first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine, hitting the country's target, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday amid an acceleration in the rollout following a sluggish start.

· The German government plans to talk to Moscow about buying doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine if it is approved by European regulators, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday. Spahn told public broadcaster WDR that Germany was prepared to go it alone, without the European Union, if it meant the country could speed up its inoculation campaign.

· The African Union has dropped plans to secure COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India – which makes AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria vaccine – for African nations and is exploring options with Johnson & Johnson, the head of the Africa CDC said on Thursday. The institute will still supply the AstraZeneca vaccine to Africa through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.

· India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria shot made by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, as domestic infections rise. This has affected supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, as well as slowing the vaccine rollout in the UK.

· COVAX backed the Vaxzevria jab on Thursday as the scheme celebrated shipping coronavirus vaccine doses to 100 different territories around the world, despite delays dogging deliveries.

· The UK government has made an effort to reassure the public about the safety of vaccines, the day after the announcement that alternatives to AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria would be offered to adults under 30. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that there were "more than enough" Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for that age group.

· More than half a million people in the UK received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in one day, official data showed on Thursday, raising the total who have had two doses past six million. A total of 31.8 million people have now had at least one dose, while 6.1 million have had two.

· Spain will only give AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine to people over 60 years old after European and British regulators found a potential link between the shot and rare brain blood clots.

· Students in the Swiss city of Basel falsified positive COVID-19 results in a bid to skip school, resulting in the entire class being put in quarantine, and now disciplinary measures against the perpetrators after the hoax was discovered.

· The mayor of the German city of Halle, Bernd Wiegand, was suspended from his functions by the city council for having received a COVID-19 vaccination without being part of the priority populations. The city councillor, aged 64, had received a dose in January, while access to the vaccine was then restricted in Germany to the elderly.

· The European Court of Human Rights ruled that compulsory vaccinations are legal and could be "necessary in a democratic society." The ruling came following the conclusion of a complaint brought to the court by Czech families regarding compulsory jabs for children.

· Hungary will open schools as planned on April 19 as there are no serious risks around the reopening, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday, rejecting concerns from teachers and student groups. This comes as the chief of staff also said the country has passed the peak of the third COVID-19 pandemic wave

· Indonesia warned it faced delays receiving over 100 million doses of the Vaxzevria jab, as export restrictions in India and company supply holdups threaten one of the world's biggest jab rollouts. The health minister announced on Thursday the country was in talks with China to receive as many as 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to plug the gap in deliveries.

· Australia has halted the use of the Vaxzevria jab for younger people over fears it can cause serious blood clots. Officials said the AstraZeneca shot should no longer be given to people under the age of 50, unless they had already received a first dose without any ill effects.


Iolo ap Dafydd in London

Following guidance from the European Medicines Agency and two medical watchdogs in the UK about rare side effects from the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Vaxzevria jab, it has been recommended that adults aged 18-29 in the UK should be offered a different COVID-19 vaccine – currently either Pfizer or Moderna – after a review found a potential link to rare blood clots. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there was no proof the jab caused clots, but the link was getting firmer. Other European countries have restricted use of Vaxzevria, and there's concern that fewer under-30s will accept vaccines when they become eligible.

There is stronger evidence too showing how the UK's vaccination program is breaking the link between COVID-19 cases and the number of deaths, according to scientists who are tracking the virus. Infections have fallen roughly by two-thirds since February. Swabs were taken from 140,000 people in England by researchers at Imperial College London.


More countries are joining the growing list of those suspending the use of AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria in the younger population. /Lennart Preiss/AFP

More countries are joining the growing list of those suspending the use of AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria in the younger population. /Lennart Preiss/AFP


Penelope Liersch in Budapest

Non-essential businesses and services are continuing to reopen around Hungary, after the government gave the green light when the country hit 2.5 million vaccinations. Another 272 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours and hospitalizations have dropped to 11,663, the lowest figure in weeks.

In Poland restrictions have been extended until at least April 18, with authorities concerned the third wave could be aggravated by people mixing during Easter. The country's health minister made it clear the health system remains under severe strain because of the virus, with hospital beds and ventilators nearing 80 percent capacity. It's expected that next week's COVID-19 numbers may rise to reflect extra movement around the Easter period. 


Trent Murray in Frankfurt

The latest data from Germany's Robert Koch institute shows there have been 20,407 new COVID-19 cases recorded. That's a fall of 16 percent compared to the same day last week, but it should be noted some reporting delays remain in some regions because of the Easter backlog. 

Senior lawmakers believe those delays could be hiding greater infection levels, so calls for a harder lockdown continue to grow louder. Government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer told reporters in Berlin: "Intensive care physicians are worried and sounding warnings. That's why calls for a short, uniform lockdown are justified." Just under 13 percent of the German population have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.


Germany has seen a drop in COVID-19 infections, but some are calling for even tougher lockdown measures. /John Macdougall/AFP

Germany has seen a drop in COVID-19 infections, but some are calling for even tougher lockdown measures. /John Macdougall/AFP


Toni Waterman in Brussels


Despite persistent calls for the bloc to "speak with one voice," EU member states have once again failed to form a united approach to AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria vaccine after the bloc's drugs regulator confirmed that blood clots in the brain are a "very rare side effect" of the jab. 

EU health ministers spoke late into Wednesday night, sharing "their different interpretations" of EMA's safety committee report, which could lead to confusion among citizens and further divisions in immunization programs. 

Belgium and Italy joined Germany, France and the Netherlands in recommending the jab only be used in older age groups. Spain said the jab would be restricted to those between 60 and 64, pending a review on over-65s. Denmark has suspended its use completely. 


Belgium will temporarily halt the use of Vaxzevria in people under 55 years old following a report from the EU's drugs regulator confirming that blood clots are a rare side effect of the jab. The change, though, will have little impact on the country's vaccination campaign.

Belgium is still limiting inoculations to those over-65. The temporary suspension remains in place for the next four weeks. There has been one reported case of blood clotting with a low platelet count in someone who received Vaxzevria in Belgium. That person died, but the federal agency for medicines and health products said it cannot confirm if the death was linked to the vaccine or due to an underlying condition.




Ross Cullen in Paris

Six hundred and seventy-nine people have been admitted to intensive care in France in the last 24 hours. The number of people now being treated in ICUs for COVID-19 is more than 5,700. There was no daily announcement on April 7 for the new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours due to an error in the data. 

A health defense council meeting will be held today between the president and senior ministers. Seven regions in France have seen a light decrease in the coronavirus incidence rate since the start of the partial lockdown. The incidence rate is still very high in places like Hauts-de-France (Calais) and Ile-de-France (Paris) but it has started to drop off in certain areas which came under the 'supplementary braking measures' on March 20.


France has reported a slight decrease in COVID-19 infections amid a greater push for testing using easier methods such as a breathalyzer test. /Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

France has reported a slight decrease in COVID-19 infections amid a greater push for testing using easier methods such as a breathalyzer test. /Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP



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Source(s): AFP ,Reuters

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