LONDON – European Union medicines regulator says it has found’ possible link ‘between AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and rare bleeding disorder but says the benefits of the shot outweigh always on the risks

In a statement released on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency placed no new restrictions on the use of the vaccine in people 18 years of age and over

EMA says most of the reported cases have occurred in women under the age of 60 within two weeks of vaccination The agency says based on currently available evidence, it has not been in able to identify specific risk factors

Experts have looked at several dozen cases mainly from Europe and the UK, where around 25 million people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine

The EMA, the World Health Organization and many other health authorities have repeatedly stated that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective and that the protection it offers against COVID-19 outweighs small risks of rare blood clots

– European medicines regulator EMA to announce results of its investigation into any link between AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran broke its daily record for new coronavirus infections for the second day in a row, with 20,954 cases reported

Wednesday’s record comes as the country is in one of the most serious coronavirus outbreaks to date It follows a two-week public holiday for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, when millions of people traveled to vacation spots across the country and gathered in homes in defiance of government health guidelines

For months, Iran struggled to stem the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East The number of cases on Wednesday brought the total number infected to 198 million, official figures show Iranian health ministry Sima Sadat Lari said 193 more people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the confirmed death toll to 63,699

Vaccine rollout in country is late, with only 200,000 doses of vaccine administered in country of 84 million, World Health Organization says COVAX delivered its first shipment of vaccine to Iran on Monday from the Netherlands, containing 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Tehran, the capital, and 250 towns and villages are declared “red zones”, which have the most severe restrictions in place and the highest virus positivity rate More than 85% of the country now has the status of ‘red’ or ‘orange’ infection, according to authorities

PARIS – The transition to online learning for the 12 million students in France has not been smooth

Many children were unable to log in on Wednesday, and teachers scrambled to find solutions after more than seven months of in-person lessons

Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation into a possible hacking of key systems Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced a cyberattack on a national distance education network and accused the networks and servers private households overwhelmed with other problems But frustrated parents blame poor planning

“There were too many people connected at the same time,” Esther Baumad of Open Digital Education, a leading online education platform, told France-Info.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government sent all children back to full-time school in September to narrow learning gaps and allow parents to return to work But amid a new wave of the virus fueled by a more contagious variant first identified in Britain, Macron last week ordered schools across the country to close and imposed new travel restrictions

Kiev, Ukraine – Hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus in Ukraine hit a new record on Wednesday According to health officials, 481 people have died in the past 24 hours and 5,587 have been hospitalized

Infections and deaths have been on the rise in Ukraine for several months, straining the country’s faltering healthcare system

“The situation, without exaggerating it, can be described as critical,” says Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who added that hospitals will soon reach full capacity

Kyiv authorities on Monday imposed tighter lockdown restrictions, closing schools and kindergartens and restricting the use of public transport

So far, only 320,000 people have received their first vaccination due to widespread reluctance On Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced an agreement to purchase 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which are expected to be delivered from here the end of the year

A nation of 41 million people, Ukraine has reported more than 17 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 35,498 deaths

BERLIN – Spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs calls for a “short and uniform lockdown” as the country grapples with an increase in coronavirus cases

German state governors tasked with imposing and lifting restrictions have taken different approaches Some support limited reopening steps and others advocate a tougher stop Armin Laschet, a governor who also heads the party de Merkel, calls for a 2-3 week ‘bridge lockdown’ to control infections while vaccinations are stepped up

Merkel spokesperson Ulrike Demmer says: “Every call for a short and uniform lockdown is fair” She says the number of new cases is not particularly good and an increase in the number of beds busy intensive care unit “speaks very clear language”

Laschet also called for the next meeting between Merkel and the governors to coordinate the restrictions to be moved from next Monday, but has met resistance from his colleagues

TOKYO – Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay will not pass through the streets of Osaka Prefecture next week due to increase in coronavirus cases

The move is a setback for Tokyo organizers who started the relay two weeks ago from northeast Fukushima prefecture with 10,000 runners planning to tour Japan in four months Organizers say the runners and the torch will be involved in an event at a park in Osaka city from April 13-14, the day the relay was due to cross the entire prefecture

Osaka reported 719 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday About 70% of available hospital beds in Osaka have already been occupied, officials say

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea temporarily suspends administration of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to medical workers and people in long-term care facilities aged 60 and under, European health authorities investigating a possible link between injections and rare blood clots in adults

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Wednesday that it would suspend the rollout of the vaccine to nurses and school teachers, which was due to start on Thursday, pending the results of the review of the European Medicines Agency

South Korea administered the first doses of coronavirus vaccines to around 1 million people after starting its mass vaccination program at the end of February It relied mainly on AstraZeneca pictures produced by local company SK Bioscience

LONDON – The European Medicines Agency will announce the findings of its investigation into the possible link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and rare blood clots later Wednesday

On Tuesday, a senior EMA official said there was a causal link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare blood clots seen in dozens of people around the world, among the tens of millions who received at least one dose

In comments to the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero, Marco Cavaleri, head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based agency, said: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that there is no cause and effect relationship between AstraZeneca vaccines and the very rare cases of blood clots associated with low platelet count “

But Cavaleri admitted that the agency had yet to figure out how exactly the vaccine might cause these rare side effects

LONDON – UK administers first doses of Moderna vaccine, third authorized in country against coronavirus

West Wales General Hospital patients received vaccine on Wednesday Britain ordered 17 million doses of Moderna vaccine, enough for 85 million people

The deployment comes as the UK medical regulator studies another vaccine, made by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, which has been given to more than 18 million people in Britain

Several countries have restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in young people, as scientists investigate a small number of cases of rare blood clots in people who have received the vaccine

Britain, which has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has not limited its use, but its medical regulator is reviewing the evidence

The University of Oxford said on Tuesday evening it had stopped giving the vaccine to children involved in a clinical trial until it received more information from the regulator on reports of rare blood clots in adults

BERLIN – Brazilian activist disguised as the Grim Reaper takes to the streets of Berlin every night to protest what he calls “deadly health policies” carried out by his country’s president in the pandemic

Multimedia artist Rafael Puetter, who has been in Berlin for five years and originally from Rio de Janeiro, made his night excursion early Wednesday as Brazil first reported a 24-hour tally of COVID deaths -19 exceeding 4000

This made Brazil the third nation to cross the threshold Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has long played down the risks of the coronavirus and remains totally against lockdowns because they are too damaging to the economy

“My performance starts at the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin at midnight every night,” said Puetter “I think the president is promoting deadly health policies and I think death is the symbol of that government in many ways”

He then walks to the Brandenburg Gate and the neighboring German parliament, in front of which he counts a sunflower seed to represent each of the people who have died in Brazil in the past 24 hours and puts them in a glass He ultimately aims to plant the seeds as a memorial

WASHINGTON – Large numbers of US students fail to return to class even as more schools reopen for full-time in-person learning, according to poll released by the Biden administration on Wednesday

The results reflect a nation that has been locked into a debate over the safety of reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic As national COVID-19 rates continue to decline, key measures regarding the reopening of schools barely moved

Nearly 46% of public schools offered five days a week in-person lessons to all students in February, survey found, but only 34% of students were learning full-time in class The gap was most pronounced among older K-12 students, with just 29% of eighth-graders having five days a week of learning at school

There were early signs of a change, however, with more eighth graders switching from fully distance learning to blended learning

With the new findings, President Joe Biden has failed to meet his goal of opening most elementary schools five days a week in his first 100 days

PRAGUE – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis sacked his Minister of Health, the third to lose his job in the pandemic in one of the hardest hit European countries

Jan Blatny was due to be replaced by Petr Arenberger, director of the Prague Vinohrady University Hospital, who will be sworn in later on Wednesday

Babis has recently repeatedly criticized Blatny for his handling of the pandemic, including imposing strict conditions for the use of investigational drugs to treat patients with COVID-19

Blatny has also been criticized by pro-Russian President Milos Zeman, an ally of Babis, who demanded the dismissal of Blatny for his refusal to allow the use of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V because he did not not approved by the pharmaceutical regulator of the European Union

Blatny took office on October 29 to replace epidemiologist Roman Prymula who was fired after being photographed visiting a restaurant that should have been closed as part of restrictive measures to slow the pandemic

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BUDAPEST – Hungary began to ease its lockdown restrictions on Wednesday even as another daily record of COVID-19 deaths was broken and an outbreak of the pandemic gripped the country’s hospitals

A slow downward trend in the number of deaths has been halted as authorities announced 311 new deaths, just hours after Prime Minister Viktor Orban said some lockdown restrictions would be lifted on Wednesday The Hungarian government earlier ruled that the lockdown could be relaxed after 25 million Hungarians received at least a first dose of a vaccine, a milestone taken on Tuesday

As new daily infections continue to decline in this hard-hit central European country, number of people treated in hospitals remains above 12,000 Some medical experts have expressed reservations about plans to lift the lockdown as the current pandemic outbreak continues to peak

As of Wednesday, most businesses and services could reopen if they enforce maximum indoor capacity limits and respect social distancing The start of a nighttime curfew in effect since November will be extended by two hours , and the opening hours of shops will also be extended

Hungary has third worst COVID-19 death rate per 1 million people in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University

WARSAW, Poland – Poland extends its lockdown for an additional week until April 18, as more than 34,500 COVID-19 hospital beds are occupied, almost 80% of those available, a level that health authorities qualify as “dangerously” high

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski also said on Wednesday that the Brazilian, South African and Nigerian viral variants had been discovered in Poland, but the predominant variant is the one first found in Britain, which , according to scientists, is both more transmissible and more deadly

Amid a sudden spike in cases, Poland recorded around 35,000 new daily infections last week and 600 deaths per day on average

Under the extended lockdown, schools, hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and clubs, theaters and sports facilities remain closed

Nearly 68 million doses of vaccine have been administered and 55,000 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in this 38 million country

MADRID – The region of northwestern Spain, in the region of Castile and León, temporarily stops the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine while European authorities assess links between the vaccine and rare blood clots

Health services in the Spanish region of 24 million people said on Wednesday that the suspension will affect its mass vaccination rollout No other Spanish region has announced a suspension

The Spanish government recommends giving the shot to people between the ages of 18 and 65.It is one of the European countries that briefly halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine last month due to concerns about rare blood clots

Castile and León health chief Verónica Casado said “the precautionary principle” had led her to temporarily suspend the vaccine

“We don’t panic. Everyone’s watching to see what EMA says,” Casado told Spanish public radio

The European Medicines Agency holds a press conference on its investigation into the problem of blood clots on Wednesday

NEW DELHI – India hit a new high with 115,736 coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours New Delhi, Mumbai and dozens of other cities are imposing curfews in an attempt to slow the surge in infections

The latest rise reported on Wednesday surpassed Sunday’s high of 103,844 infections The death toll has risen by 630 in the past 24 hours, the highest since November, bringing the country’s total death toll to 166,177 since the start of the pandemic

Experts say outbreak is in part blamed on growing disregard for social distancing and wearing masks in public spaces The latest outbreak of infections is worse than the more than 97,000 a day peak of the last year in mid-September

India now records seven-day moving average of over 78,000 cases per day and has reported 128 million cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, the highest after the United States and Brazil

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