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

February 26, 2021 / 01:56 PM IST
Heartbreak and despair arrived quickly. Nightmarish scenes we had witnessed in China and Italy reached America, and the nation snapped to attention. Nursing homes near Seattle became the sites of the first deadly U.S. outbreak. We watched the elderly and frail suffer alone: An octogenarian with COVID-19, stretched out in a hospital bed, blowing her family a kiss through a window. (Image: AP)

Heartbreak and despair arrived quickly. Nightmarish scenes we had witnessed in China and Italy reached America, and the nation snapped to attention. Nursing homes near Seattle became the sites of the first deadly U.S. outbreak. We watched the elderly and frail suffer alone: An octogenarian with COVID-19, stretched out in a hospital bed, blowing her family a kiss through a window. (Image: AP)

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

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* 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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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* 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.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* 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.

AMERICAS

* U.S. 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 drugmakers 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.
Reuters
first published: Feb 26, 2021 01:40 pm

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