Virus still ‘far from under control’ in Germany due to variants

  by Deborah COLE Agence France Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The pandemic in Germany is still out of control, the head of its disease control institute said Friday, dampening hopes of a quick easing of its partial lockdown despite declining infection numbers. Robert Koch Institute (RKI) chief Lothar Wieler told reporters that the emergence of new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus posed a real danger to tentatively successful German efforts to curb its […]

Europe warms to Russian jab after positive trial results

  by Gina DOGGETT and AFP bureaus Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Final-stage trial results published on Tuesday placed Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on a par with its Western rivals, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced openness to its use in the European Union once it receives the regulatory nod. Sputnik V, which has already been rolled out in Russia and several other countries, was found to be 91.6 percent effective against […]

Vaccine storm engulfs EU chief von der Leyen

  by Anne-Laure MONDESERT / Dave CLARK Agence France Presse EU chief Ursula von der Leyen faces the deepest political crisis of her mandate so far, under intense fire over delayed vaccine deliveries and the bungled roll-out of export controls. No-one expects the storm to drive her from office — she still has powerful backing in Paris and Berlin — but the attacks underline concerns about Brussels’ coronavirus strategy. In Brussels, Dublin and London criticism […]

Vaccine shortfall forces EU to modify jabs strategy

  by Marc BURLEIGH Agence France Presse BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — The European Commission said Monday a shortfall in deliveries from Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca had forced it to recalibrate its early coronavirus vaccination strategy. The head of the Commission’s health directorate, Sandra Gallina, told MEPs the firm has been able to guarantee just 25 percent of the more than 100 million doses promised and that this was “a real issue” for the EU’s 27 countries. […]

Europol warns on fake COVID-negative papers being sold at airports

  THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — The EU’s police agency on Monday warned travellers to watch for organised crime gangs selling fake Covid-negative certificates at airports, sometimes for as much as 300 euros each. The warning from Europol comes after police busted several suspects selling forged certificates declaring people Covid-19 negative at airports in Britain and France, online and through mobile messaging chat groups in Spain and the Netherlands. Many EU countries and others now […]

EU ‘strongly condemns’ Myanmar coup

  BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — EU chief Charles Michel on Monday strongly condemned the coup by Myanmar’s military and demanded the release of all those wrongly detained in the crackdown. “I strongly condemn the coup in Myanmar and call on the military to release all who have been unlawfully detained in raids across the country,” the president of the European Council tweeted. “The outcome of the elections has to be respected and democratic process needs […]

AstraZeneca to increase EU vaccine deliveries by 30 percent: Von der Leyen

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — AstraZeneca will increase its coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the EU by 30 percent, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday as the bloc sought to claw back time lost rolling out the jabs. The British-Swedish company had announced last week that it could deliver only a quarter of the doses originally promised to the bloc for the first quarter of the year because of problems at one of its […]

Germany threatens legal action over vaccine delays

  BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany’s government on Sunday threatened legal action against laboratories failing to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the European Union on schedule, amid tension over delays to deliveries from AstraZeneca. “If it turns out that companies have not respected their obligations, we will have to decide the legal consequences,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told German daily Die Welt. “No company can favour another country over the EU after the fact,” he added. […]

AstraZeneca hit by Covid jab delays and disagreements

  by VĂ©ronique DUPONT Agence France Presse Only a few weeks ago, Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was being applauded for the speed with which it developed its Covid-19 vaccine. Experts heralded the launch of the jab as a turning point in the pandemic, not least because it can be transported and stored more easily than its Pfizer/BioNTech counterpart. The Anglo-Swedish firm also won plaudits for promising to provide the vaccine on a non-profit basis to […]

EU backtracks on restricting vaccines to Northern Ireland

  BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — The EU backtracked Friday over threats to restrict vaccine exports to Northern Ireland after London voiced “grave concerns” over the proposed move. A furious row over shortages of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has risked stoking conflict with the UK just weeks after London and Brussels sealed a Brexit trade agreement. The EU had warned it would invoke Article 16 — overriding part of a deal with London allowing the free-flow of […]

Hungary first in EU to approve Chinese Covid vaccine Sinopharm

  by Peter MURPHY Agence France Presse BUDAPEST, Hungary (AFP) — Hungary on Friday became the first EU member to approve the Chinese-made Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, a week after it also broke ranks with Brussels by issuing a provisional permit for Russia’s Sputnik V jab. “Today the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (OGYEI) gave its approval for the Sinopharm vaccine,” Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller told a briefing. A few hours later Foreign Minister […]

EU approves AstraZeneca jab as worries grow over virus strains

  by Jan HENNOP with AFP Bureaus Agence France Presse The European Union on Friday approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for use on all adults, as concerns grow around the world over the effectiveness of different jabs against new strains of Covid-19. Brussels’ announcement after a green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) marks the third vaccine approved for use in the EU, following the jabs made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The pharma giant’s […]