Covid-19 has killed over 3M people and infected more than 140.2M others globally. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for April 16:

Nurses from Humber River Hospital's mobile vaccine clinic depart Christian Horizons charitable organization to go and set up another mobile vaccine clinic as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 14, 2021.
Nurses from Humber River Hospital's mobile vaccine clinic depart Christian Horizons charitable organization to go and set up another mobile vaccine clinic as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 14, 2021. (Reuters)

Friday, April 16

Cases in Canada's Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June

New cases of Covid-19 in Canada's most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario has said.

Even if measures to control the virus are "moderate," the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care. 

Pfizer CEO: Vaccine third dose 'likely' needed within 12 months

The head of Pfizer has said in an interview aired on Thursday that people will "likely" need a third dose of his company's Covid-19 shot within six to 12 months of vaccination, while elsewhere defending the relatively higher cost of the jab.

CEO Albert Bourla also said annual vaccinations against the coronavirus may well be required.

"We need to see what would be the sequence, and for how often we need to do that, that remains to be seen," Bourla told CNBC in an interview recorded on April 1.

South Africa to start mass vaccination 

South Africa has taken the first step in its mass vaccination campaign by starting online registrations for the elderly to receive shots beginning next month.

People age 60 years and older will be vaccinated first as they are regarded as having the highest risk of being hospitalised or dying from Covid-19.

South Africa’s inoculation drive is dependent upon millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving in the country within weeks. So far South Africa has vaccinated only 290,000 of its 1.2 million health care workers, using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Number of patients in France drops slightly

The number of Covid-19 patients in French hospitals has dropped slightly as a third nationwide lockdown put in place early in April starts to have an impact, but France continues to report about 300 new deaths per day.

Health Ministry data showed that 5,914 people were in intensive care units with Covid-19, 10 fewer than on Thursday and the second fall this week.

In a second sign that pressure on France's hospital system is starting to ease, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 dropped by 196 to 30,472, the fourth consecutive drop this week, from a 2021 high of 31,262 on Monday.

Turkey logs highest daily Covid-19 cases since pandemic began

Turkey has recorded 63,082 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily number since the beginning of the pandemic, data from the Health Ministry showed, bringing the total number of cases to 4,150,039.

The data also showed 289 people died due to Covid-19 in the same period, bringing the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 35,320.

Turkey currently ranks fourth globally in the number of daily cases based on a seven-day average, according to a Reuters tally.

Pregnant women in UK should have Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, advisory body says

Pregnant women in Britain should get a Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna because there is more real-world data to show it is safe, the British public body that advises on vaccinations said.

The group said around 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated in the United States, mainly with the two American vaccines, without any safety concerns being raised.

Italy reports 429 deaths, 15,943 new cases

Italy has reported 429 coronavirus-related deaths against 380 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 15,943 from 16,974.

Italy has registered 116,366 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. The country has reported 3.84 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 — not including those in intensive care — stood at 24,743, down from 25,587 a day earlier.

There were 199 new admissions to intensive care units, decreasing from 211 on Thursday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 3,366 from a previous 3,417.

UK delivers almost 550,000 daily vaccines

The United Kingdom has delivered almost 550,000 vaccines in a 24-hour period, helping to boost the number of people who have now had a second vaccine, official data showed.

According to the official figures, 129,782 first doses were given, to take the total number to 32.57 million, and 417,683 second doses were distributed, taking that total to 8.93 million.

A further 34 people died after testing positive for the virus within 28 days, up slightly from the 30 recorded on Thursday, and 2,596 new cases were detected, slightly down from 2,672 the day before.

Eli Lilly: Antibody combo works best on variants

Drugmaker Eli Lilly says its Covid-19 antibody drug should no longer be given to patients alone because treatment combinations work better fighting some variants of the coronavirus.

The company is asking US regulators to revoke their emergency authorisation for the use of bamlanivimab alone. Lilly announced there are no new safety concerns with the drug, but the combination with another drug etesevimab fights more of the emerging Covid-19 variants in the US.

EMA to rule on J&J jab safety 

Europe's medicines regulator has said that it expected to rule on the safety of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus jab on Tuesday after vaccinations were put on hold in the US and Europe over blood clot fears.

The European Medicines Agency said in a statement it "is holding a virtual press briefing on the conclusion of the evaluation of a safety signal with Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen relating to cases of thromboembolic events by EMA's safety committee."

The conference is scheduled for 1500 GMT, the Amsterdam-based EMA said, adding that the timing was "preliminary."

US announces $1.7 billion to fight Covid variants

The administration of President Joe Biden has announced it would spend $1.7 billion to improve its ability to sequence the coronavirus for genetic changes, as new and potentially dangerous variants are poised to dominate the pandemic.

The funding comes from a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package passed last month and will help the United States come up to speed on genomic surveillance, an area in which it has lagged behind badly relative to other advanced countries

Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as virus cure

Kyrgyzstan is using a poisonous root as a treatment against the coronavirus despite health warnings as the country battles a new wave of infections.

The Health Ministry unveiled the remedy at a news conference, claiming the impoverished country's leader used the herb to cure "thousands" of sick inmates when he served jail time last year. 

China's Coronavac 80 percent effective – Chile results

China's Coronavac vaccine was 67 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and 80 percent at preventing death, according to real-life results collected from Chile's inoculation campaign.

"These figures should convey peace of mind to the country," Health Minister Enrique Paris told journalists as he announced the outcome of two months of vaccination in Chile, in February and March.

Brussels queries Ireland's quarantine for some EU visitors

The European Commission sent a letter to Ireland questioning its mandatory hotel quarantine for people arriving from five EU countries, a spokesperson said.

The measure – applied to travellers coming from Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg – raises "concerns" under principles of EU law in terms of proportionality and non-discrimination, spokesperson Christian Wigand told journalists.

Italy to ease virus curbs in many regions as of April 26

Italy will ease coronavirus restrictions in many areas as of April 26, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said, slightly bringing forward the easing of restrictions originally set for the start of May.

"The government is taking a reasonable risk based on data that is improving, although not dramatically," Draghi told a news conference. "This is based on a premise, that people and institutions observe the rules so that this reasonable risk is successful," he added. 

Portugal allows some UK, Brazil travel, extends Spanish border restrictions

Portugal has lifted its ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil for work and studies but not for tourism, the government said, while restrictions on travel by land and sea to Spain will stay in place for another 15 days.

The country suspended all but humanitarian and repatriation flights to and from Brazil and the United Kingdom in mid-January to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants and imposed border controls with neighbouring Spain on January 28.

The Interior Ministry said the border restrictions with Spain, which has a higher infection rate than Portugal, would continue until the end of the month based on a bilateral agreement. The measures do not prevent Portuguese citizens or residents from entering the country.

Germany's Merkel receives shot of AstraZeneca vaccine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has received her first shot of AstraZeneca's vaccine, her spokesperson said on Twitter.

"I am happy that I received the first vaccination with AstraZeneca," the Twitter post quoted Merkel, 66, as saying.

India pledges massive boost in vaccine output as virus cases surge

India has pledged to raise monthly production of its own Covid-19 vaccine about tenfold to nearly 100 million doses by September, as immunisations have slowed in the country despite a surge in new infections.

After donating and selling tens of millions vaccine doses abroad, India has suddenly found itself short of Covaxin, its only domestically made shot. The government is now trying to raise production at manufacturer Bharat Biotech, and fast-track imports of other vaccines.

The Ministry of Science and Technology, giving the September target, pegged current capacity at 10 million doses a month.

Dutch coronavirus cases jump nearly 9,000 in 24 hours

New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands have risen by nearly 9,000 in 24 hours, the fastest pace since early January, data showed.

The figures published by the National Institute for Health (RIVM) indicate a rising trend of third wave infections in the Netherlands. 

One in three Germans to be offered first dose of vaccine by summer 

By end of May, one in three Germans should have been offered a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Jens Spahn has said.

Germany should be able to abandon its strict prioritisation list for Covid-19 vaccinations towards the summer, Spahn told a news conference. 

China likely to approve BioNTech's vaccine by July - WSJ

China is planning to authorise the Covid-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech SE by July, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Chinese officials are reviewing clinical-trial data for the vaccine and are expected to authorise it for domestic use within the next 10 weeks, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Sweden registers 7,658 new cases, 27 deaths

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 7,658 new coronavirus cases, health agency statistics showed.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 27 new deaths, taking the total to 13,788. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden's death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns. 

Australia reports first death from blood clots 'likely' linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Australia has reported its first death from blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine after the country's regulator said a 48-year-old woman's fatality was “likely” linked to the shot.

Australia’s Vaccine Safety Investigation Group (VSIG), which held a late meeting, concluded the New South Wales woman's death was likely linked to the vaccination, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said in a statement.

"In the absence of an alternative cause for the clinical syndrome, VSIG believed that a causative link to vaccination should be assumed at this time,” the TGA said.

Johnson & Johnson asked rival vaccine makers to probe clotting risks - WSJ

Johnson & Johnson had reached out to rival Covid-19 vaccine makers to join in an effort to study the risks of blood clots, but Pfizer Inc and Moderna declined, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Only AstraZeneca, which had been buffeted by similar blood-clotting concerns for weeks, agreed, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Covid-19 prevalence in England drops sharply in latest week - ONS

The prevalence of Covid-19 infections in England dropped sharply in the week ending April 10, the Office for National Statistics has said.

There were 1 in 480 people infected according to the latest figures, down from 1 in 340 infected the week before. The drop in prevalence followed a slight rise in last week's figures.

First Pfizer vaccines arrive in Ukraine

The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has arrived in Ukraine, the Health Ministry said.

The batch of 117,000 doses, provided under the global COVAX scheme, will be given to nursing home residents and staff, emergency workers and border guards, it said in a statement.

Ukraine has already received India-made AstraZeneca vaccine and China's Sinovac, and around 430,000 people have received their first shot.

The country has reported more than 1.92 million coronavirus cases so far and more than 39,000 deaths.

Bangladesh reports 4,417 new cases

Bangladesh has recorded 101 new deaths, the highest in a day, raising the nation’s confirmed death toll to 10,181.

The country registered another 4,417 positive cases in the last 24 hours, raising the total cases to 711,779, according to the Ministry of Health Affairs,

The new figures came amid reports that many hospitals in the capital, Dhaka, were overwhelmed with patients despite a nationwide lockdown. Officials say the number of deaths has increased in recent weeks as new strains of the virus were spreading quickly.

WHO chief says infection rate approaching highest of pandemic so far

 The head of the World Health Organization said coronavirus cases are continuing to rise globally at “worrying” rates and noted that the number of new cases confirmed per week has nearly doubled during the past two months.

At a press briefing on Friday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of new cases “is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far in the pandemic.”

Tedros said some countries that had been able to avoid widespread Covid-19 outbreaks are now seeing steep increases, citing Papua New Guinea as an example.

Thailand to close schools, bars after surge in cases

Thailand will close schools, bars and massage parlours, as well as ban alcohol sales in restaurants, for at least two weeks starting from Sunday after a jump in cases, a senior official said.

Poland health minister expects case numbers to fall

Poland's new daily virus cases will likely fall in coming days and the country seems to have passed the worst in hospitals too, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said.

The country of 38 million, the largest in the European Union's eastern wing, reported a high of around 35,000 cases a day at the start of April.

It has also reported new record highs in virus-related deaths with the health service being stretched to its limits by a third wave of the pandemic.

Denmark speeds up reopening 

Denmark advanced its reopening plan on the back of stable infection rates, allowing indoor serving at restaurants and bars and some football fans to cheer from the stands from April 21, weeks earlier than originally planned.

Denmark has avoided a third wave of the virus epidemic after imposing wide lockdown measures in December, which slowed the epidemic considerably to between 500 to 700 daily infections from several thousands in December.

German finance minister to receive AstraZeneca vaccine

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he was due to receive his first shot of AstraZeneca's vaccine on Friday.

"I have always said I would get vaccinated when it is my turn," the 62-year-old politician told journalists. "Today is the day. Immediately afterwards, I will receive a jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine."

According to German media reports, Chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, will also receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. The chancellery declined to confirm the reports.

Serum Institute appeals to Biden to lift embargo on raw material exports

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's biggest vaccine maker, urged US President Joe Biden to lift an embargo on US exports of raw materials that is hurting its production of shots.

"Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the US so that vaccine production can ramp up," SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla said in a tweet.

Sweden eases restrictions on people with at least one jab

Sweden will ease restrictions on those, mostly elderly, citizens who have had at least one vaccination shot against the virus, the Public Health Agency said.

Around one-fifth of Swedes have been vaccinated, including almost all those living in care homes for the elderly, and vaccinations are gradually being expanded to people in their 60s.

Authorities said that three weeks after their first shot, people could meet others from outside their socially-distanced bubble – even indoors – and that communal activities in care homes for the elderly could resume.

Finland to open restaurants, give more vaccine to heavily hit areas

Finland said it would allow all restaurants to reopen next week after a steady fall in infection rates over the past month.

Restrictions to opening hours, alcohol sales and the number of guests will apply, the government said.

In the region around the capital Helsinki and some other areas still battling the epidemic, restaurants will be allowed to take in half of their capacity, sell alcohol until 1400 GMT and need to close by 1600 GMT.

The government on Friday also decided Finland will temporarily give more vaccinations to areas where the virus is spreading fastest such as in the capital region.

Monaco eases restrictions but yet to decide on fans at Grand Prix

Monaco announced that it was easing health restrictions, without resolving the thorny dilemma of whether fans would be allowed at its Formula 1 Grand Prix next month.

"Monaco is taking its decisions in the light of its own situation, in full sovereignty but also in mutual agreement with France," the principality's Minister of State Pierre Dartout told a press briefing.

He said that from Monday, the curfew would move to 1900 GMT and there would be a controlled reopening of restaurants in the evening. The provisions extend to May 2, three weeks before the Monaco Grand Prix is scheduled for May 23.

Germany's Merkel urges lawmakers to support pandemic bill

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged parliament to pass a bill that would mandate a nationwide “emergency brake” when the spread of the virus becomes too rapid, saying that it was needed to prevent the country's health care system from becoming overwhelmed.

“The situation is serious, very serious, and we need to take it seriously,” she told lawmakers.

“There is no way around it. We need to stop this third wave of the pandemic... and to achieve this we need to better combine the strengths of the federal, state and local governments than we have been .”

Free groceries used to lure Chinese public to get vaccines

China's success at controlling the virus outbreak has resulted in a population that has seemed almost reluctant to get vaccinated. So it is accelerating its inoculation campaign by offering incentives – free eggs, store coupons and discounts on groceries and merchandise – to those getting a shot.

After a slow start, China is now giving millions of shots a day. On March 26 alone, it administered 6.1 million shots. A top government doctor, Zhong Nanshan, has announced a June goal of vaccinating 560 million of the country’s 1.4 billion people.

The challenge lies partly in the sheer scale of the effort and the need to convince a population that currently feels safe from infections.

Duterte: 'Worst' to come before vaccines arrive

President Rodrigo Duterte said it's uncertain when the Philippines can get adequate vaccines while warning more people will die and “the worst of times” is yet to come.

Duterte said his administration has done its best despite criticism and he could use emergency power, for example, to take over hotels if hospital room shortages worsen. But he said wealthy nations control the vaccine supply and other countries could hardly do anything but wait.

“When will we have that stocks sufficient to vaccinate the people? I really do not know. Nobody knows,” Duterte said in a televised meeting Thursday night with key Cabinet members.

Japan to widen curbs, casting fresh doubt on Olympics

Japan is set to expand quasi-emergency measures to 10 regions as a fourth wave of virus cases spreads, casting more doubt on whether the Summer Olympics can be held in Tokyo in less than 100 days.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters the government was considering adding Aichi, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba to six other prefectures already under the orders, including the cities of Tokyo and Osaka.

Thailand reports record daily number of 1,582 cases

Thailand reported 1,582 new virus cases, marking the highest number of cases in a day since the start of the pandemic and the fifth record daily tally this week, amid a third wave of infections in the Southeast Asian country.

No new deaths were reported. The new cases took the total number of infections to 39,038, with deaths remaining at 97.

India reports another record daily rise in infections

India reported a record daily increase of 217,353 infections over the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days. Total cases reached nearly 14.3 million, second only to the United States which has reported more than 31 million infections.

India's deaths from the virus rose by 1,185 to reach a total of 174,308, the data showed.

US opens more distance in worldwide race against virus

The United States opened more distance between itself and much of the rest of the world, nearing the 200 millionth vaccine administered in a race to protect the population against the virus, even as other countries, rich and poor, struggle with stubbornly high infection rates and deaths.

Nearly half of American adults have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 30 percent of adults in the US have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the picture is still relentlessly grim in parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia as variants of the virus fuel an increase in new cases and the worldwide death toll closes in on 3 million.

Iran to purchase 60M Russian vaccines 

Iran has finalised a deal with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

The report quotes Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, as saying the contract has been “signed and finalised” for enough vaccinations to inoculate 30 million people.

Jalali said Iran will receive the vaccines by the end of the year.

On Saturday, Iran began a 10-day lockdown amid a fourth wave of infections.

Germany logs 25,831 cases – RKI

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 25,831 to 3,099,273, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 247 to 79,628, the tally showed.

Australia considers staggered reopening of borders

Australia will consider a staggered reopening of its international borders to allow residents who are fully vaccinated against the virus to travel abroad first, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot leave the country due to virus restrictions unless they have an exemption, while returning international travelers have to quarantine in hotels for two weeks at their own expense.

"The first goal I think is to enable Australians who are vaccinated to be able to move and travel, particularly for important purposes," Morrison told a community forum in Perth.

Tokyo Olympics must be 'reconsidered' due to Japan's failure to contain pandemic – report

Japan's inability to contain the pandemic means that plans to hold the Olympics in Tokyo should be reconsidered, health experts wrote in a commentary.

The 2020 Games, already delayed by one year, are due to begin in fewer than 100 days, even as Japan expands quasi-emergency measures to halt a fourth wave of infections.

Japan has exhibited "poor performance" in containing virus transmission, along with limited testing capacity and a slow vaccination rollout, according to the commentary published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.

South Korean consortium to produce 100M doses a month of Sputnik V vaccine

South Korea's Huons Global Co Ltd said it will lead a consortium to produce 100 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine per month as Moscow ramps up production for supplies abroad.

The announcement comes after South Korean biotech firm GL Rapha signed a deal with Russia's sovereign wealth fund late last year to make more than 150 million doses of Sputnik V per year.

Huons said the consortium will begin producing sample batches in August and respond flexibly to supply demands from t he Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

Australia could prioritise Olympic athletes for vaccine

Australia is considering allowing its hundreds of Olympic athletes and support staff to jump the queue and get the vaccine before heading to the Tokyo Games, a report said.

Earlier this month, the government in Canberra joined a growing number of countries halting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for younger people over fears it can cause serious blood clots.

It slowed the national rollout further, raising fears that the athletes could miss out as rival nations like the United States race ahead with inoculations for their Olympians in the face another wave of infections in Japan.

China GDP grows record 18.3 percent in first quarter in virus rebound

China's economy expanded at its fastest pace on record in the first quarter, data showed, in a sharp turnaround from the historic contraction caused by the virus outbreak.

The world's second largest economy was the only major one to grow at all in 2020, supported by strong retail spending and industrial activity as well as better-than-expected exports as the virus hit markets around the world.

China reports 11 new cases vs 10 a day earlier

China reported 11 new mainland Covid-19 cases on April 15, up from 10 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority has said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement one of the new cases was a local infection reported in southwestern Yunnan province, which discovered a new cluster in late March at a city on the border with Myanmar.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 31 from 15 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,468, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.

Brazil registers 3,560 additional deaths

Brazil has registered 3,560 new deaths  and 73,174 additional cases, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered 365,444 total coronavirus deaths and 13,746,681 total confirmed cases. 

Covid-19 blamed for large increase in US deaths

New US government data has showed that the country saw somewhere around 600,000 more deaths than usual during a 13-month span. Covid-19 was blamed for most of those deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new estimate on Thursday. It covers the time period from January 26, 2020 to February 27, 2021. The virus was first detected in the US in late January of last year.

CDC researchers said the biggest spikes in the deaths occurred in early April, late July, and the very end of December.

At least 75% of the deaths were directly tied to Covid, but the estimate includes deaths from all causes.

This week CDC released provisional data through the end of September 2020 that suggested overdose deaths for the year were far exceeding tallies seen in any previous year. The CDC said that more than 87,000 deaths were reported over a 12-month period.

Colombia rules out prompt opening of Venezuela border on Covid concerns

Colombian President Ivan Duque has ruled out a prompt reopening of his country's border with Venezuela, citing a high-level of infections.

The 2,219km (1,380-mile) land and water border between the two neighbours - who do not maintain diplomatic relations - has been closed since last year. A new reopening date of June 1 was set by Bogota earlier this year.

"I know all the urgency there is for the issue of opening the border," Duque said during a visit to the border province of Norte de Santander. But Colombia had to be "especially cautious" given the uncertainty over the Covid-19 situation in Venezuela, he said.

Colombia is the top destination for Venezuelans fleeing social and economic destruction in their country. More than 1.7 million Venezuelans reside in Colombia, which is set to grant most of them 10-year legal status. 

Fauci says he believes J&J vaccine will 'get back on track soon'

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease doctor, hopes US regulators will make a quick decision to lift a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and get that vaccine "back on track," he has said in an interview with Reuters.

His comments come a day after a panel of advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delayed a vote on whether to resume the J&J shots for at least a week, until it had more data on the risk.

The United States earlier this week decided to pause distribution of the J&J vaccine to investigate six cases of a rare brain blood clot linked with low platelet counts in the blood.

Fauci said the pause was "an indication that the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration take safety very seriously. I hope they make the conclusion of this quickly, and get back on track," he said. "And I believe they will."

Pfizer CEO: Vaccine third dose 'likely' needed within 12 months

The head of Pfizer has said in an interview aired that people will "likely" need a third dose of his company's Covid-19 vaccine within a year of being fully vaccinated.

CEO Albert Bourla also said annual vaccinations against the coronavirus may well be required.

"We need to see what would be the sequence, and for how often we need to do that, that remains to be seen," Bourla told CNBC in an interview recorded on April 1.

"A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed," he said, adding that variants will play a "key role."

"It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus," he said.

Researchers currently don't know how long vaccines provide protection against the coronavirus.

Pfizer published a study earlier this month that said its jab is more than 91 percent effective at protecting against the coronavirus, and more than 95 percent effective against severe cases of Covid-19 up to six months after the second dose.

Britain has no plans to halt rapid testing -health ministry

Britain's health ministry has said there were no plans to halt rapid coronavirus testing, after the Guardian newspaper reported the programme may be scaled back in England because of concerns about false positives.

"With around one in three people not showing symptoms, regular, rapid testing is an essential tool to control the spread of the virus as restrictions ease by picking up cases that would not otherwise have been detected," a ministry spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

"Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, and figures show that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is fewer than one false positive result."

Citing leaked emails, the Guardian reported on Thursday that senior officials were considering scaling back the widespread testing of people without symptoms, due to worries about a growing number of false positives in places where rates are low, such as London.

The spokeswoman said regional models were based on too small a sample size to draw conclusions, adding "there are no plans to halt the universal programme."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies