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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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COVAX dispatches first vaccine doses
The World Health Organization's global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX delivered its first shots on Wednesday, as the race to get doses to the world's poorest people and tame the pandemic accelerates.

A flight carrying 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India landed in Ghana's capital Accra.

The delivery takes place almost a year after the WHO first described the novel coronavirus as a global pandemic and eight months after the launch of the COVAX initiative, aimed at pooling funds from wealthier countries and non-profits to develop a vaccine and distribute it equitably around the world.

AstraZeneca to miss EU vaccine target by half
AstraZeneca has told the European Union it expects to deliver less than half the Covid-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply in the second quarter, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Contacted by Reuters, AstraZeneca did not deny what the official said, but a statement late in the day said the company was striving to increase productivity to deliver the promised 180 million doses.

The expected shortfall, which has not previously been reported, follows a big reduction in supplies in the first quarter and could hit the EU's ability to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of adults by summer.

Malaysia launches vaccination drive
Malaysia on Wednesday launched its Covid-19 inoculation programme, with an ambitious target of vaccinating at least 80% of its 32 million people by February next year.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was the first to be given the vaccine, developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, as part of government efforts to reassure people of the vaccine's safety.

The Southeast Asian nation had largely contained the virus for most of last year, but a spike in infections that started in September has placed Malaysia third in the region in total cases, behind Indonesia and the Philippines.
World Bank threatens to cut Lebanon's vaccine aid

The World Bank threatened on Tuesday to suspend its multi-million dollar financing for Lebanon's Covid-19 vaccinations over politicians jumping the line.

Local media and officials said some lawmakers got shots in parliament on Tuesday while other Lebanese in the priority groups were still waiting their turn, drawing a rebuke from the doctor leading the campaign and outrage on social media.

The World Bank's reallocation of $34 million enabled Lebanon to receive its first two batches of about 60,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses this month.

Australian states ease curbs on dancing
Two Australian states will loosen restrictions on dancing at indoor venues and ease other curbs from Friday after several weeks of no Covid-19 cases.

In New South Wales, 30 people will be allowed to dance at weddings and as many as 30 people will be able to sing indoors together, up from five currently.

Restrictions are also being eased in South Australia. Dancing will be now allowed at smaller venues with capacity of less than 200 people, while at bigger venues, 50 can dance at a time at a designated area.
(PA

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