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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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GSK, CureVac to develop vaccine against variants
Britain's GlaxoSmithKline and German biotech firm CureVac have teamed up in a 150 million euro ($180 million) deal to develop a vaccine from next year that could target several variants of the coronavirus with one shot.

New, more contagious mutations have emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil and while existing vaccines appear to offer some protection against them, there are fears further changes in the virus could evade the shots.

The German biotech firm is banking on messenger RNA, a cutting-edge genetic technology that has allowed rivals to lead the vaccine development race.

Recovered patients likely protected for at least six months
Almost all people previously infected with Covid-19 have high levels of antibodies for at least six months that are likely to protect them from reinfection with the disease, results of a major British study showed on Wednesday.

Scientists said the study, which measured levels of previous Covid-19 infection in populations across Britain, as well as how long antibodies persisted in those infected, should provide some reassurance that swift cases of reinfection will be rare.

New Zealand approves vaccine
New Zealand on Wednesday warned against "vaccine nationalism" that could delay the rollout of international shipments after its medicines regulator provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech product to arrive by the end of March, but expressed concern at any attempt to limit exports.

"The world just can't afford for that to happen. We won't be safe until we have widespread rollout across the globe," she told a news conference.

Olympics face another looming headache
Japanese doctors and nurses will not have the time to volunteer to help at the Olympics, a medical association has said, raising another headache for organisers determined to hold the postponed Games.

The director of the Tokyo Medical Association, which represents 20,000 doctors from dozens of smaller medical groups, said doctors and nurses were under too much strain dealing with a third wave of the pandemic to even consider signing up for the Olympics.

Thailand's Phuket plans private vaccination drive
Thailand's resort island of Phuket is planning private vaccinations for 250,000 residents in the hope the government will allow it to fully reopen to foreign tourists by October and save its battered economy, industry officials said.

"The people of Phuket are losing hope," the president of the Phuket Tourism Association, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, said.

About 10.5 million of the nearly 40 million foreign visitors to Thailand in 2019 visited Phuket.

'Hero' Captain Tom Moore dies aged 100
Britain's Captain Tom Moore, the World War Two veteran who lifted a nation's spirits by raising millions of pounds for health service workers battling the coronavirus, died on Tuesday aged 100 after he contracted COVID-19.

Moore struck a chord with locked-down Britain by walking around his garden with the help of a frame to raise 38.9 million pounds ($53 million) for the National Health Service.
(Reuters)

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