Coronavirus - 4 March


• Study finds fatality rates 10 times higher in obese nations
• Germany to maintain border restrictions
• Athens extends its lockdown to 16 March
• Germany and Sweden to allow over 65s the AstraZeneca vaccine
• New vaccines to have fast-track approval process similar to flu vaccines

World news

• Coronavirus fatality rates are ten times higher in nations where at least 50% of adults are overweight, a global study by Sydney University has found. Of the 2.5 million deaths from the disease so far, 90% were in countries with high levels of obesity.

• New vaccines that can combat variants such as the one from Brazil can be fast-tracked through the approval system, according to the UK regulator MHRA. Manufacturers will not need to seek brand new approval or do lengthy clinical studies. However, they will need proof that vaccines trigger protective antibodies.

• Greece is extending a lockdown in the greater Athens region of Attica to 16 March. Under the new restrictions, residents will only be able to shop in supermarkets within 2km of their homes.

• Czechia has asked the Chinese Government for deliveries of the vaccines made by China’s Sinopharm.

• Germany’s federal states have agreed to a phased easing of restrictions, with up to five people from two households being allowed to meet from Monday.

• Germany has told the EU it would uphold its latest border restrictions.

• Germany and Sweden have reversed their stance on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and will allow over-65s to receive the vaccine, following similar decisions in Belgium and France.

• EU says it is putting Russian vaccine Sputnik-V under an ongoing review. Several European nations, including Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia have expressed interest in buying doses.

• Northern Ireland’s Nightingale facility, at Belfast City Hospital, has been “prioritised for de-escalation”, the nation’s health minister says.

• The Scottish land and buildings transaction tax is to end as planned on 1 April.

• The Pakistan Super League cricket tournament is being suspended.

• A “fake vaccine network” producing thousands of counterfeit doses has been broken up by police in China and South Africa. In China, at least 3,000 doses were found at a factory allegedly making fake vaccines, and 80 people were detained, and three Chinese nationals and a Zambian were arrested and 2,400 doses discovered in a warehouse in Gauteng, South Africa.

• Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech has said its Covid-19 vaccine is almost 81% effective at preventing infection, following interim phase 3 trials.

• Estonia has imposed new restrictions on restaurants and non-essential shops as part of efforts to curb rising infections.