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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Australia to ask EU to send 1 mln vaccines for PNG
Australia said on Wednesday it will ask the European Union to release 1 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to help Papua New Guinea (PNG) battle a dangerous outbreak, a request that is likely to inflame tensions over vaccine supplies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vaccines were contracted to Australia but were badly needed to contain a surge in coronavirus cases in the Pacific island nation, parts of which are just a short boat ride from Australian territory.

Australia will donate 8,000 locally produced Covid-19 vaccines to PNG as an immediate response to the outbreak, and would make a million doses available as soon as they arrived from Europe, he said.

Vietnam's homegrown vaccine to be available by Q4 - govt
Vietnam's first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine, called Nanocovax, is expected to be available by the fourth quarter of this year and put into use in 2022, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes as more countries try to speed up development of homegrown vaccines amid tight global supply and concerns over the emergence of new strains of the virus.

Four Vietnamese companies were engaged in vaccine research and production and two were undertaking human tests including on Nanocovax and the Covivac vaccine, it said.

India's infections rise by highest in three months
India's daily coronavirus infections jumped by 28,903 on Wednesday, data from the health ministry showed, for the highest increase since Dec. 13 and taking the nationwide tally to 11.44 million.

Nearly 62% of infections in the past 24 hours and 46% of the deaths were reported by the western state of Maharashtra, the country's worst affected.

The federal government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out the virus mutations that have been a factor in Western countries.

Anxious Americans to pay debt, taxes with stimulus checks
In interviews with a dozen Americans, including a nurse, a man made homeless by the pandemic, a plumber, a teacher, and a bar owner, nearly all say they are so worried about the future that they will use their stimulus checks to pay debt and taxes accumulated in the past year.

Those spending priorities are not what massive stimulus bills are traditionally meant to achieve. They are designed to encourage people to buy goods and services, to help U.S. businesses and create jobs.

Labour economist Diane Swonk sees a divide between those who can work from home and those who cannot - highlighted by the ways Americans have spent their stimulus checks from the government during the year-long coronavirus pandemic.

Britain's Prince Charles takes swipe at anti-vaxxers
Britain's Prince Charles on Wednesday criticised those lobbying against coronavirus vaccines, saying they can "protect and liberate" some of society's most vulnerable members.

"Who would have thought...that in the 21st century that there would be a significant lobby opposing vaccination, given its track record in eradicating so many terrible diseases and its current potential to protect and liberate some of the most vulnerable in our society from coronavirus?" he wrote.

The focus of the prince's article for the Future Healthcare Journal, published on Wednesday, was his message that long-term health issues needed to be addressed by integrating science, public policy and personal behaviour.
(Reuters)

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