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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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AstraZeneca says vaccine 76% effective in new analysis
AstraZeneca said its Covid-19 vaccine was 76% effective in a new analysis of its U.S. trial - only slightly lower than the level in an earlier report this week criticised for using outdated data.

Interim data published on Monday had put the vaccine's efficacy rate at 79% but had not included more recent infections, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke from U.S health officials.

The small revision to the efficacy rate will go a long way to putting the vaccine back on track for gaining U.S. emergency use authorisation and help AstraZeneca in its efforts to dispel doubts about its effectiveness and side-effects, independent experts said.

Brazil passes 300,000 Covid-19 deaths
As the number of Covid-19 deaths in Brazil passed 300,000 on Wednesday, President Jair Bolsonaro's fourth health minister used his first official day in the job to pledge a vaccination goal of 1 million shots a day to put the brakes on the snowballing crisis.

Latin America's biggest country has become the global epicentre of Covid-19 deaths, with one in four global fatalities a Brazilian.

The outbreak is reaching its worst ever stage in the country, fanned by a patchy vaccine rollout, an infectious new variant and a lack of nationwide public health restrictions.

German cases jump by most since early January
The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany jumped on Thursday by 22,657 to 2.713 million, the biggest increase since Jan. 9 as Chancellor Angela Merkel's government struggles to agree measures to contain a third wave of the pandemic.

The reported death toll rose by 228 to 75,440, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.
A contrite Merkel rejected on Wednesday demands for a vote of confidence in her government over a U-turn on a circuit-breaker lockdown over Easter that compounded discontent with her handling of the pandemic.

More than half of Israelis have had both vaccine doses
Israel has administered two doses of Covid-19 vaccine to more than half its 9.3 million population, its health minister said on Thursday, a rapid roll-out that has helped it begin emerging from pandemic closures.

Distribution of Pfizer's vaccine in Israel began in December, with eligibility extended to citizens and residents over 16. People who receive it are deemed fully protected a week after the second shot.

Israel counts East Jerusalem Palestinians as part of its population and has been providing them vaccines.

Rapid tests work as well as quarantine for travel
Rapid antigen tests on arrival after travel can be just as effective as quarantining to stop imported cases of COVID-19, according to new research which the travel industry hopes will convince Britain to open up its borders this summer.

Britain bans all foreign travel, except for work, education or health reasons. However, the government is to review that next month and possibly allow it from May 17.

But rising levels of infections in some European countries and warnings from UK government ministers not to book trips has led to worries that the holiday ban could be extended.
(Reuters)

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