- This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
- Top stories: EU to ease restrictions for vaccinated holidaymakers, Pfizer vaccine can be stored for up to one month and US eyes late 2021 for child vaccinations.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 164.9 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 3.41 million. More than 1.53 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
India reported on Thursday 276,110 new coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,874. The South Asian nation's infection tally stands at 25.77 million, with a death toll of 287,122, health ministry data showed.
Thailand is aiming to administer one shot of a coronavirus vaccine to 70% of its population by September, its health minister said on Wednesday, as it seeks to provide protection for more people faster amid its deadliest outbreak so far.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized storage of Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine at standard freezer temperatures for up to one month, in an effort to make the vaccine more widely available.
Unopened, thawed vials of the vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for up to a month, up from a previous maximum limit of five days.
Vietnam plans to set up a 25.2 trillion dong ($1.1 billion) fund to acquire 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for its population, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Thursday.
Taiwan raised its COVID-19 alert level for the whole island on Wednesday as domestic cases continued to rise, but will get 400,000 more AstraZeneca Plc COVID-19 vaccine doses from the COVAX global sharing programme.
2. EU agrees to open doors to vaccinated foreigners
European Union countries agreed on Wednesday to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-EU visitors ahead of the summer tourist season, a move that could open the bloc's doors.
Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved a European Commission proposal from 3 May to loosen the criteria to determine "safe" countries and to let in fully vaccinated tourists from elsewhere, EU sources said.
They are expected to set a new list this week or early next week. Based on data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Britain and a number of other countries would meet the new criteria.
The United States would not, although Americans with proof of vaccination would be welcomed.
One EU diplomat said cases of the Indian variant in Britain would need to be taken into account, although individual EU countries are already setting their own policies. Portugal lifted a four-month travel ban on British tourists on Monday.
3. Fauci expects COVID-19 vaccines for kids in late-2021, sees need for booster shot
Kids in the United States will likely be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said at an event on Wednesday.
The United States earlier this month cleared the way for the use of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE in adolescents aged 12 and above.
Fauci also noted the need for a COVID-19 booster shot within a year or so after getting the primary shot.
"I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary because the durability protection against coronavirus is generally not lifelong similar to measles," he said.