19 March 2021

• In Europe – where the death toll from coronavirus has surpassed 900,000 – coronavirus cases are surging and plans to lift restrictions for the Easter holiday are likely to be postponed. France (which will only give it to people over age 55 years)  Germany, Italy and Spain announce that they will lift their suspensions of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Denmark, Norway and Sweden will continue to suspend use of the vaccine as they continue their investigations. Source
• Pfizer warns the EU that its threat to stop exporting coronavirus vaccines to the UK could worsen supply disruptions, because the lipids used to deliver the vaccine’s genetic material must be shipped from Yorkshire to the EU – and that the UK can retaliate by withholding  this crucial raw material – which would stop vaccine production in Brussels. A spokesperson from Pfizer said that the company had been clear with “ …all stakeholders that the free movement of goods and supply across borders is absolutely critical to Pfizer and the patients we serve.” Source
• The Russian Direct Investment Fund signs an agreement with Stelis Biopharma (a division of Strides) to produce and supply at least 200 million doses of Sputnik V, beginning in Q3 2021. Source
• The US Federal Emergency Management Agency announces that it will reimburse families for the funeral expenses of  relatives who died from COVID-19 from 20 January 2020 onwards. Source
• In South Korea, diplomats and politicians criticize Seoul’s Metropolitan Government for imposing a requirement that all foreign workers face mandatory coronavirus testing. Lee Sang-min, a lawmaker from the governing Democratic Party,  described it as “ …a human rights violation that would disgrace South Korea internationally.” Source
• US lawmakers declare a crisis after six Asian women are murdered by a white man. The murders underscore a sharp increase of violence against the Asian community prompted by ex-President Trump and other officials who blamed China for the coronavirus.  Source
• Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed al-Khalifa,a member of Bahrain’s royal family, brought 2,000 doses of  coronavirus vaccines to Nepal, honoring a promise made to villagers last year.  However, the vaccines were from Sinopharm -which offered a 500,000 dose donation to Nepal after the country approved its vaccine –  but has not delivered them. The doses remain in storage as the government decides whether to accept the donation. Source
• In Russia, prominent members of the opposition have been confined to house arrest after being accused of violating coronavirus safety measures in what appears to be  governmental use of  restrictions to muzzle them. Source

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