Coronavirus digest: UK finds 30 blood clot cases after AstraZeneca jab


Regulators in the UK have identified 30 cases involving rare blood clot events after the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. The new number is 25 more than was reported in the past.

Some countries have restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as authorities investigate reports of rare, and in some cases severe, blood clots in patients who have received the jab.

However, officials believe that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any possible risk of blood clots.

Last month, the UK medicines regulator had registered five cases of a rare brain blood clot among the 11 million doses administered. The number has risen to 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, an extremely rare brain clotting ailment, as well as eight blood clotting cases associated with low blood platelets.

The regulators said they had received no such reports after the use of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.

Here is an overview of the latest coronavirus news from around the world.

Europe

The European Union has agreed upon a deal to distribute nearly 3 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to members that are "most in need" — Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia.

While Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic insisted on receiving their full quota of shots under the bloc’s general shareout system, the main group of 19 states — including Germany, France, Italy and Spain — decided to share 6.66 million vaccines.

Ireland has added 26 countries and territories to its mandatory hotel quarantine list to control the spread of the virus. The advisory requires travelers to "book accommodation for mandatory hotel quarantine at least 48 hours in advance of travel." 

The 26 countries, including Israel, Albania and Monaco, join the "Category 2" list, which now has 58 countries and territories. Mauritius has been removed from that list.

"Any passenger who has been in any of these Category 2 countries in the previous 14 days, even if only transiting through one of these countries and even if remaining airside, is legally required to quarantine at a designated facility," the travel advisory said.

France has imposed a ban on alcoholic drinks in French parks and other outdoor public spaces under the country’s limited nationwide lockdown.

Prime Minister Jean Castex also told the National Assembly that under the new restrictions, authorities would disperse groups of more than six people on riverbanks or squares, as many could be seen drinking and enjoying the springtime sun in cities like Paris and Lyon.

Police dispersed some 2,000 people gathered for a fake concert dubbed "La Boum" (the party) in the "Bois de La Cambre" park in Brussels in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus lockdown. 

Organizers promised a lineup of singer and producer Calvin Harris and a one-off reunion of French band Daft Punk, before announcing on social media that it was an April Fool's Day prank.

Hundreds of police, many in riot gear and some on horseback, used water cannon trucks and teargas to break up the crowds.

Africa

After months of resistance, Madagascar has joined the COVAX vaccine-sharing program, the country's health minister has announced. 

Madagascar's vaccination campaign is yet to take off after President Andry Rajoelina relentlessly pushed a local herbal infusion as a coronavirus "cure." In the face of heavy criticism, he was forced to make a U-turn and seek vaccines last week.

Americas

The United States may not need the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine even if it gets regulatory approval, according to the country's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.

"That's still up in the air. My general feeling is that given the contractual relationships that we have with a number of companies, that we have enough vaccine to fulfill all of our needs without invoking AstraZeneca," he told Reuters.

Panama has approved the use of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, according to Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund. It is the 59th country to do so.

Brazil has recorded 91,097 new confirmed cases and 3,769 deaths from the virus, as many parts of the country struggle to keep up with the surge in numbers.

Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, ramped up efforts to empty old graves in order to make room for people who succumbed to the virus.

The country has registered close to 13 million cases with 325,284 deaths since the pandemic began.

see/sri (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)