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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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EU to extend vaccine export curbs to cover Britain, backloading
The European Commission on Wednesday will extend EU powers to potentially block Covid-19 vaccine exports to Britain and other areas with much higher vaccination rates, and to cover instances of companies backloading contracted supplies, EU officials said.

The regulation is aimed at making vaccine trade reciprocal and proportional so that other vaccine-making countries sell to Europe and the EU does not export much more than it imports, one EU official said.

With no numerical targets, the change is unlikely to trigger mass export bans of EU-made vaccines, the official with insight into the announcement said on Wednesday. The regulation will be the basis for the EU's 27 governments to decide whether to block vaccine exports or not.

Some Pfizer vaccine halted in Hong Kong over defective packaging
Hong Kong authorities suspended on Wednesday Covid-19 vaccinations with two batches of Pfizer's shot citing defective packaging but said manufacturers indicated they had no reason to believe safety was at risk.

The suspension comes as the Asian financial hub has faced a sluggish take-up of vaccines due to dwindling confidence in China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine and fears of adverse reactions.

It was not immediately clear how many shots would be affected but the government said use of batch 210102 would be suspended, as would that of another batch, numbered 210104, until further notice. On Wednesday, city authorities told several vaccination centres to stop using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to notices seen by residents.

AstraZeneca to publish full U.S. trial results
AstraZeneca will publish up-to-date results from its major U.S. Covid-19 vaccine trial within 48 hours after health officials publicly criticized the drugmaker for using "outdated information" to show how well the immunization worked.

The rare public rebuke marks the latest setback for the vaccine once hailed as a milestone in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic that has since been dogged by questions over its effectiveness and possible side effects.

AstraZeneca said results it published on Monday in which the vaccine had demonstrated 79% efficacy were based on an interim analysis of data through Feb. 17, and it would now "immediately engage" with the independent panel monitoring the trial to share its full analysis.

Massive ramp-up of China's vaccination drive
China's daily output of Covid-19 vaccines has reached about 5 million doses, more than tripling the 1.5 million-dose daily production rate on Feb. 1, official media said on Wednesday.

A total of 80.46 million vaccine doses were given by Monday, Xinhua said. That compares with 74.96 million administered as of the end of Saturday, indicating a significant acceleration of the vaccination drive.

Shanghai will offer Covid-19 vaccinations for foreign residents, local authorities announced late on Tuesday, marking the first time a city in China has made its vaccine available widely to non-Chinese citizens.

UK plans to vaccinate children from August -Telegraph
Children in Britain will start receiving a Covid-19 vaccine as early as August under provisional government plans to push for maximum national immunity from the coronavirus, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday.

That timeline would be months earlier than expected, the newspaper said, citing two sources involved in the plans.
Government officials are waiting on the findings from a child vaccine study being run by Oxford University on the vaccine it has developed with AstraZeneca Plc before making a final decision on the rollout.

Nearly all Havana to receive experimental Cuban Covid-19 vaccines

Cuba will administer experimental Covid-19 shots to nearly the entire population of the capital Havana by May as health authorities carry out massive interventional studies and late stage trials, officials said on Tuesday.

Cuba, which has a long history of developing and exporting vaccines, this month began late phase trials of two of its five experimental shots, Soberana 2 and Abdala, which will be Latin America's first homegrown Covid-19 vaccines if they prove successful.

By August, six million people should have received a vaccine, with all Cuba's 11 million inhabitants vaccinated by year-end, Ileana Morales, the health ministry's director of science and technological innovation, said on a roundtable broadcast on state television.

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