FACTBOX | Covid here to stay: latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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  • There have been more than 250 000 Covd-19 deaths in Brazil.
  • EU authorities are urging vaccine makers to ensure efficacy with new variants.
  • The AU is calling for drug-makers to waive intellectual property rules

Brazil surpassed 250 000 Covid-19 deaths, while France and Germany said Covid-19 is here to stay after EU leaders discussed ways to fight new variants of the virus, step up inoculations and save Europe's tourism industry from another ruinous summer.

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* Europe's medicines regulator issued new guidance for drug-makers that modify their vaccines to protect against variants of the virus to speed up the approval process.

* AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot said he hoped to meet the EU's expectations on the number of vaccines the company can deliver to the bloc in the second quarter.

* The Czech prime minister said people's movement needed to be "radically" limited over at least the next three weeks.

* Portugal extended until at least mid-March a nationwide lockdown.

* France will bring in new restrictions for the Moselle area around its common border with Germany, and impose measures including weekend lockdowns in Paris and 19 other regions from the start of March if signs of the coronavirus accelerating persist.


* China approved two more vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four.

* Australia's Victoria state will start easing restrictions from Friday night.

* South Korea launched its inoculation campaign, with shots to be administered in some 200 nursing homes.


* US President Joe Biden's administration plans to launch a campaign to educate Americans about vaccines in anticipation of a period later this year where supply may outstrip demand because of vaccine hesitancy.

* Brazil will purchase 20 million doses of the vaccine made by India's Bharat Biotech for delivery between March and May.

* Canada's vaccination campaign is ramping up after earlier supply disruptions and the number of inoculations last week hit a five-week high.

Middle East and Africa

* The African Union is backing calls for drug-makers to waive some intellectual property rights on Covid-19 medicines and vaccines.

* Israel has frozen its programme to send vaccines abroad to buy international goodwill, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said, after the initiative came under legal scrutiny.

* Bahrain has approved Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine for emergency use.

Medical developments

* Pfizer and BioNTech said they are testing a third dose of their vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the virus.

Economic impact

* Asian stocks skidded to one-month lows as a rout in global bond markets sent yields flying and spooked investors amid fears the heavy losses suffered could trigger distressed selling in other assets.

* Fewer Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week amid falling infections.

* Japan's industrial output rose for the first time in three months in January. Its jobless rate is expected to have edged up in January, a Reuters poll of economists showed.

* Mexico's economy grew quicker than first estimated during the fourth quarter as the country recovered from its sharpest economic contraction in nearly nine decades.

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