Coronavirus - 15 February


• Israeli study shows Pfizer vaccine offers 94% protection
• Australia suspends quarantine-free travel to New Zealand
• Japan’s economy grew by 3% yoy in Q4
• Cyprus and Israel sign travel deal
• House sales in Spain fall 18% in 2020

World news

• An Israeli study of more than half a million fully-vaccinated people indicated the Pfizer/BioNTech jab offered 94% protection, according to the country’s largest healthcare provider.

• Australia has suspended quarantine-free travel with New Zealand after it locked down Auckland.

• Brazil has confirmed two cases of the UK variant in the state of Goiás after sequencing test samples taken on 31 December.

• Rwanda has started vaccinating healthcare workers and other high-risk groups, its health ministry has said, making it the first country in east Africa to start its rollout.

• Australia has today received its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and expects to begin rollout next week.

• New Zealand has today received its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and expects to begin rollout from Saturday.

• California announced that it would soon expand vaccine access to people of any age with underlying health issues or severe disabilities. But it has already used 72% of its doses and has shortages in some areas.

• Officials in the US state of Georgia say constrained supply is getting in the way of opening up eligibility.

• South Korea will initially exclude people aged over 65 from inoculation with AstraZeneca’s vaccine because of a lack of data proving its efficacy in the elderly, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said today.

• The first guests have checked into quarantine hotels in the UK, as tougher rules for international arrivals from 33 red list countries came into force today.

• Japan's economy shrank 4.8% in 2020, its first contraction since 2009. However, the economy beat expectations to grow by 3% between October and December compared to the same period in 2019.

• The National Statistics Institute has said just under 4mn foreign tourists stayed in Portuguese hotels in 2020, a 76% fall from 16.4mn in 2019, while the number of overnight stays by non-residents dropped 75% to 12.3mn, its lowest level since 1984.

• House sales in Spain tumbled 18% in 2020, the National Statistics Institute said today. The Balearics and Canary Islands respectively lost 20% and 17% of their house sales volume in 2020.

• Cyprus and Israel have agreed to allow vaccinated citizens to travel freely between the two countries. Under the agreement, due to come into effect in two weeks’ time, travellers in both directions will not be required to have undergone PCR tests nor will they have to endure periods of quarantine.