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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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AstraZeneca's new trial data gives vaccine a boost
AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine received a major boost on Monday after data from a large trial showed it was safe and effective, potentially paving the way for its emergency authorisation in the United States as countries in Asia accelerated its rollout.

The trials in the United States, Chile and Peru showed the vaccine was 79% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and could bolster confidence in the product after confusion over its efficacy data, dosing regimen and possible side-effects.

Many European countries halted the use of the AstraZeneca shot earlier this month after some reports that it was linked to blood clots, but have since resumed inoculation after a regional regulator said it was safe.

India reports worst daily rise in Covid-19 in months
India reported its most Covid-19 cases and deaths in months on Monday, on the first anniversary of the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown.

Authorities reintroduced some curbs to slow the spread of the virus, especially in the western state of Maharashtra, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of the 46,951 new infections and the majority of the 212 deaths. Some hospitals in the country's worst-affected state have begun to run short of beds.

With the biggest rise in cases since early November, India's total has surpassed 11.65 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Philippines reports record rise in cases
The Philippines on Monday reported a record daily rise of 8,019 infections, as authorities implemented tighter curbs in the congested capital region and hospital capacity neared critical levels in some areas.

The health ministry said total confirmed cases had reached 671,792, while deaths increased by four to 12,972. It was the third time the Philippines has posted a fresh high in daily cases in the past four days.

"Exercise extra caution to prevent the quick spread of Covid-19 cases," the ministry said in a statement, urging people to stay at home if possible.

French vaccines chief eyes return to normal life by summer
French vaccination chief Alain Fischer said on Monday he expects the country to return to some kind of "normal" living conditions by summer or autumn thanks to an acceleration of the vaccination campaign.

Fischer also told BFM Television the army would be involved in plans to speed the vaccination campaign and that France was still able to stick to its vaccination targets despite setbacks on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"It will take some time for life to return to normal," he said. "For the most vulnerable people, we should not be far from the target by May. For a return to normal this is Summer-Autumn."

Thai-developed vaccine starts human trials
Thailand started human trials on Monday of a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine and expects to deploy it next year, which its health minister said could give the country more freedom with its vaccine policy.

Thailand's vaccination drive is targeting the inoculation of half of its adult population by the end of the year using 61 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, which will be locally produced from June.

The home-grown vaccine candidate uses an inactivated virus to trigger immunity.

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