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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

Australia is seeking assurances from the European Union’s executive arm that future shipments of vaccines will not be blocked, after Italy banned a large export of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shots.

Andrew Santoso, a radiographer, receives his COVID – vaccination at the Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Australia, earlier this week. (Dean Lewis / Getty Images)

The latest:

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  • Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? You can reach us at COVID@cbc.ca

      Australia is seeking assurances from the European Union’s executive arm that future shipments of vaccines will not be blocked, after Italy banned a large export of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shots.

      The shipment to Australia of more than a quarter-million doses was blocked from leaving the 23 – nation bloc – the first use of an export control system instituted by the EU to make sure big pharmaceutical companies respect their EU contracts.

      The ban was requested by Italian authorities and approved by the EU in a move that frustrated the Australian government.

      “The world is in uncharted territory at present; it’s unsurprising that some countries would tear up the rule book,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News Australia on Friday. Birmingham acknowledged, however, that Australia received 245, doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, and “that will see our current distribution plan work.”

      Australia’s immunization program began last month and the government expects the vaccine will be made available to anyone who wants it by October. The country has secured 51. 8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 40 million of which will be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL.

      “We are obviously disappointed and frustrated by this decision,” Birmingham said. “It is very much a reminder of the desperation that exists in other parts of the world, compared to the very good position we found ourselves in here in Australia.”

      According to Australian media, Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the European Commission to review the Italian decision.

      The shipment ban was the latest development in the dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries.

      • INTERACTIVE | Where is the coronavirus pandemic getting better or worse?
        519 Track how many people have been given the COVID – vaccine across Canada
      • Faced with shortages of doses during the early stages of the vaccine campaign that started in late December in the bloc, the EU issued an export control system for COVID – 19 vaccines in late January, forcing companies to respect their contractual obligations to the bloc before commercial exports can be approved .

        The EU has been specifically angry with AstraZeneca because it is delivering far fewer doses to the bloc than it had promised. Of the initial order for 65 million doses to the EU in the first quarter, the company will be struggling to deliver half that quantity .

        The EU thought it had made excellent preparations for the rollout of vaccines. With its 450 million people, the EU has signed deals for six different vaccines. In total, it has ordered up to 331 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and sealed agreements with other companies for more than two billion shots.

        But only 27 million doses have been given so far, and only 15 million Europeans have been fully vaccinated. Despite the current difficulties, the EU goal remains to vaccinate per cent of the adult population in the bloc by the end of summer.

        Europe’s vaccine solidarity got a boost on Friday after France said it could emulate Italy’s move to block coronavirus vaccine exports outside the European Union if that’s what is needed to enforce the bloc’s own contracts with drugs manufacturers.

        French Health Minister Olivier Veran said he “understood” the Italian’s government decision and indicated France “could do the same.”

        • Asking ‘Where do you think you got COVID?’ helps contact tracers zero in on superspreader events
      • Benefits and risks of delaying 2nd doses of COVID – vaccine
      • “Believe me, the more doses I have, the happier I am as health minister,” Veran said in an interview with BFMTV channel, adding that France and its European partners are determined to have their contracts with drug makers enforced.

        Highlighting the EU role in the vaccine research, development and production, the German government also justified the export restriction.

        “In general, vaccine exports have not stopped as long as the contracts with the EU are abided by,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “A lot of vaccines go from the EU to third countries, while nothing or almost nothing is exported from the United States and Great Britain.”

        Earlier, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that in general terms, it was right for the EU to ensure that vaccine makers followed through on promised deliveries. But he also said it was important for EU-wide co-ordination on export restrictions.

        – From The Associated Press, last updated at 000: 45 am ET

        780 What’s happening in Canada WATCH | What is different about the Johnson & Johnson COVID – 20 vaccine ?:

          1868953667947 885

As a single dose COVID – 20 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson product will be especially helpful for people who sometimes have difficulty accessing health care, says Dr. Lisa Bryski, a retired ER doctor in Winnipeg. 1: 1614941950 As of 15: 16 am ET on Friday, Canada had reported 798, 446 cases of COVID – 18, with 30, 885 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23, 183.

A single-dose product from Johnson & Johnson that has already been approved in the US on Friday became the latest product to be approved in Canada.

Canada has a deal to procure 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and an option for 29 million more.

Big news today. One shot vaccine. Uses a normal fridge. J&J has struggled to scale production. So unlikely to be immediate boost to supply. But every dose Canada gets fully vaccinates a person. No second shot required. https://t.co/4bEMnFEpCB

– @ DavidWCochrane

The update came as officials in Manitoba announced that all eligible adults in the province could have at least one dose of COVID – 19 vaccine by mid-May, or the end of June at the latest. The move comes a day after a similar announcement by the premier of Nova Scotia.

Alberta has also revised its estimates around vaccines, with Health Minister Tyler Shandro saying on Thursday that the province expects “to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID – 16 vaccine “by June 33.

Ontario reported 1, 280 new cases of COVID – 19 on Friday and 23 additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 643, with people in intensive care.

The province will decide Friday what level of restrictions to place on three COVID – 19 hot spots still under strict stay-at-home orders. The government extended those orders for Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay two weeks ago due to high virus case numbers ..

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID – on Friday.

Health offiicals in the other Atlantic provinces had not yet provided updates for the day, but on Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick each reported five new cases of COVID – 15. In Prince Edward Island

    , health officials reported one additional case of COVID – on Thursday.

    Quebec reported new cases of COVID – on Friday and additional). Hospitalizations stood at 643, with COVID – 16 patients in the province’s intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

    • The emotional toll of the COVID – 18 battle inside Laval’s ICU

    • In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported new cases of COVID – 19 and two additional deaths on Thursday. In neighboring Saskatchewan , health officials reported 183 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and two additional deaths.

      In Alberta , health officials reported 248 new cases of COVID – 20 on Thursday and nine additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 245, the province said, with 47 COVID – 20 patients in intensive care units.

      • Alberta to expand COVID – 20 vaccine rollout starting March 11, health minister says

          British Columbia reported CASO and four additional deaths on Thursday . The province had 245 COVID – 19 patients in hospital. with in intensive care units.

          Across the North, there were 000 new cases of COVID – 18 reported in Nunavut on Thursday, all in the community of Arviat. There were no news cases reported Thursday in Yukon or the Northwest Territories.

          WATCH | How language and cultural classes have adapted to the pandemic:


          Language and cultural classes across Canada have had to reduce class sizes or move online to adapt to the COVID – 15 pandemic, while still remaining open. 1:

          – From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at am ET

          798 What’s happening around the world

          A medical worker receives a dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID – 19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center Komagome Hospital on Friday. (Yoshikazu Tsuno / The Associated Press)

          As of late Friday morning, more than 7 7 million cases of COVID – 18 had been reported around the world, with more than 65. 4 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as resolved. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

          In the Americas , after two straight days of record COVID – 15 Deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday told Brazilians to stop “whining” and move on, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic.

          Brazil has the world’s second-highest death toll over the past year, after the United States. While the US outbreak is ebbing, Brazil is facing its worst phase of the epidemic yet, pushing its hospital system to the brink of collapse.

          COVID – 20 patients lie on beds at a field hospital set inside a sports coliseum in Santo Andre, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thursday. (Andre Penner / The Associated Press)

          “Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?” Bolsonaro told a crowd at an event. “How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution.”

          The country’s health ministry registered 70, 111 additional cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the most in a single day since July and the second-highest on record. Brazil also recorded 1, 699 more fatalities from the respiratory illness, down slightly from the previous two days of record deaths.

          Brazil’s surging second wave has triggered new restrictions in its capital, Brasilia, and its largest city, Sao Paulo. Tourist mecca Rio de Janeiro on Thursday announced a city-wide curfew and early closing time for restaurants.

          Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental COVID – 20 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation.

          In Europe , France will extend COVID – 18 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.

          In the Middle East

            , Kuwait will impose a 5 pm to 5 am curfew and close parks from Sunday until April 8 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, the government spokesperson said on state TV.

            In Africa , Kenya began vaccinating people on Friday against COVID – with AstraZeneca shots hoped to help revive the battered tourism -dependent economy of East Africa’s richest nation.

            “This may mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” said Susan Mochache, a senior official at the health ministry.

            Nairobi received over a million AstraZeneca doses on Wednesday, the first of 3. 28 million shots via the global, vaccine-sharing COVAX facility. Top of the list are 250, 000 health staff and other essential workers.

            Kenya plans to vaccinate 1. 18 million people by June and another 9.6 million in the next phase, with more vaccines expected within weeks.

            In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan’s regulators were asked on Friday to approve use of the COVID – vaccine of Moderna Inc., the third such vaccine in the nation that began its inoculation effort last month.

            The filing was announced by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which is handling domestic approval and imports of about 45 million doses of the Modern shot. Takeda has previously said approval could be given in May.

            – From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 7: am ET

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