12.50am GMT
00:50

Merkel says all approved vaccines welcome after Russian Sputnik posts strong data

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has said “all vaccines” approved by the EU’s medicines regulator are welcome, including Russian and Chinese shots, Reuters reports.

In a TV interview, she said Germany welcomed the strong data from trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Every vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency is welcome. I’ve spoken to the Russian president about this. We saw good data today [about the Russian vaccine]. Every vaccine is welcome in the EU as long as it is approved by the EMA.

It comes after she said last month she was “open to the idea” of using European manufacturing capacities to increase the production of the Russian vaccine.

Earlier today, Merkel said Germany will have vaccinated 10 million people against the new coronavirus by the end of the first quarter.

Merkel added that the EU had been right not to go for the emergency approval that had allowed Britain to release the first vaccine for public use before anyone else, since it was crucial to maintain people’s confidence in vaccines.

“You could either say that we will already be able to vaccinate 10 million people using both vaccines in the first quarter, or others will say ‘only’ [10 million]; but either way it will go up from there,” she said.

She also said consideration would be given to whether those who refuse a vaccination should at some stage face restrictions.

12.07am GMT
00:07

Macron makes ‘end of summer’ vaccine pledge to France

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that all of his countrymen who want a vaccine will be offered one “by the end of the summer”, Reuters reports.

He told the TF1 channel that 80 percent of care-home residents – some 500,000 people – would be vaccinated by early March.

Macron defended France’s record in the face of criticism for its slow rollout, especially compared with neighbour Britain which began its inoculation programme weeks earlier than EU countries and has set a much faster rate.

He said France’s rollout “may seem too slow” when compared with countries that had “made other bets”.

“But I defend the strategy we have adopted with Germany, with the European Union, which is precisely to vaccinate in Europe,” he said.

11.55pm GMT
23:55

WHO warns ‘vaccine nationalism will spawn new Covid mutations’

Coronavirus vaccine nationalism is harmful for all, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, and said weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the coronavirus pandemic.

“Despite the growing number of vaccine options, current manufacturing capacity meets only a fraction of global need,” the WHO director-general said in a piece published in Foreign Policy magazine.

“Allowing the majority of the world’s population to go unvaccinated will not only perpetuate needless illness and deaths and the pain of ongoing lockdowns, but also spawn new virus mutations as Covid-19 continues to spread among unprotected populations,” he wrote.

11.52pm GMT
23:52

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Tuesday that weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the coronavirus pandemic.

“Allowing the majority of the world’s population to go unvaccinated will not only perpetuate needless illness and deaths and the pain of ongoing lockdowns, but also spawn new virus mutations as Covid-19 continues to spread among unprotected populations,” wrote Tedros in Foreign Policy magazine.

Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:

Covid-19 vaccine nationalism is harmful for all, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He said weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the pandemic.
The number of patients in hospital with coronavirus in France is at its highest since November. The health ministry reported 28,029 people were in hospital with the virus and 3,270 in intensive care. Both numbers set new 2021 highs.
Nicola Sturgeon announced a phased return to school for Scotland’s youngest children, with nurseries and all primary pupils from P1 to P3 planned to be back in the classroom from 22 February. The announcement will put pressure on the UK government to answer calls from Conservative MPs as to why England is operating on a slower timetable.
Saudi Arabia suspended entry from 20 countries in a bid to curb a surge in coronavirus infections. The interior ministry announced the “temporary suspension” would be effective from 9pm on Wednesday.
A single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provides sustained protection against Covid-19 for at least three months and cuts transmission of the virus by two-thirds, according to a new study.
The French president Emmanuel Macron said all French people who are willing to be vaccinated will be offered a vaccine by the end of summer.
The Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said most of the lockdown measures in the Netherlands, many of which have been in place since October, will remain in place until at least 2 March due to fears over a surge in cases as a result of new coronavirus variants.
Portugal, currently feeling the full force of its third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, has appealed for international help to relieve overwhelmed hospital staff. The prime minister Antonio Costa acknowledged the nation’s hospitals are under “gigantic pressure”. The government acted after the country’s 24-hour death toll passed the 300-mark and television stations broadcast pictures of ambulances queueing up outside Lisbon’s largest hospital.
The Palestinian Authority began vaccinating its health workers in the occupied West Bank against Covid-19 after receiving doses from Israel.



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