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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Infections in Tokyo may have jumped nine-fold
The number of people infected by the novel coronavirus in Tokyo may have increased nine-fold since last summer, antibody tests showed, as Japan tries to rein in the country's third and most lethal wave of the pandemic ahead of the Olympics in July.

Random testing on people in Japan's capital in December showed that 0.91% had antibodies to the virus, compared with about 0.1% in a similar study in June.

Reported infections in Japan have trended down in recent days but the government has signalled it would remain cautious.

Pfizer drops India vaccine application
Pfizer said on Friday it had withdrawn an application for emergency-use authorisation of its vaccine in India, after failing to meet the drug regulator's demand for a local safety and immunogenicity study.

The decision means the vaccine will not be available for sale in the world's two most populous countries, India and China, in the near future. Both countries are running their immunisation campaigns using other products.

Unlike other companies conducting small studies in India for foreign-developed vaccines, Pfizer had sought an exception, citing approvals it had received elsewhere.

J&J files vaccine application with FDA
Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it has asked U.S. health regulators to authorise its single-dose vaccine for emergency use, and it will apply to European authorities in coming weeks.

The drugmaker's application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follows its Jan. 29 report in which it said the vaccine had a 66% rate of preventing infections in its large global trial.

The FDA said on Thursday evening that it has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Feb. 26, to discuss the company's request.

Australia to ease caps on returning citizens
Australia's biggest state will exit a snap five-day lockdown after reporting no cases for five straight days, as the national cabinet decided to lift the temporary caps on citizens returning from overseas from the middle of this month.

Western Australia's state capital Perth and southwest region, home to some two million people, will exit lockdown from 6 pm local time on Friday, state Premier Mark McGowan said, adding the only reason that could change was if local cases were recorded before that time.

Australia will reinstate prior limits on international travellers allowed back each week to some states, after cutting the number by nearly half to around 3,000 in early January.

New Zealand resumes refugee intake
New Zealand said on Friday it will start receiving refugees again this month, nearly a year after it shut its borders to stop the spread of Covid-19.

A group of 35 refugees will arrive in February, with about 210 refugees expected to enter the country by June 30, Immigration New Zealand and officials said.

"With health protocols in place and safe travel routes, we are ready to welcome small groups of refugee families as New Zealand residents to this country, to begin their new lives," Fiona Whiteridge, general manager for refugee and migrant services at Immigration New Zealand, said.
(Reuters

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