What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Director of the Tokyo Medical Center Kazuhiro Araki speaks to the media after receiving a dose of the coronavirus vaccine as Japan launches its inoculation campaign, in Tokyo, Japan on Feb. 17.
Behrouz Mehri/Pool via REUTERS

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Britain OKs challenge trial exposing volunteers to COVID-19

Britain became the first country in the world on Wednesday to give the go-ahead for human challenge trials in which volunteers will be deliberately exposed to COVID-19 to advance research into the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The trial, due to start within a month, will see up to 90 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 30 exposed to the smallest amount of the virus needed to cause infection, scientists behind the plans told reporters.

Croatia may buy Russian vaccine without waiting for EU

Croatia is discussing with Moscow the possibility of importing Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine and the government has asked its drugs regulator to consider approving the shot without waiting for the European Union, Health Minister Vili Beros said on Wednesday.

EU countries have so far lagged far behind the United States and former EU member Britain in distributing vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan at last begins vaccinations to halt pandemic

Japan launched its COVID-19 inoculation drive on Wednesday, administering the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine to Tokyo hospital workers, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attempts to beat the odds and host the Olympics this summer.

Workers at Tokyo Medical Center were among the first of some 40,000 medical professionals targeted to receive the initial shipments of the vaccine. They will be followed by 3.7 million more medical personnel, then 36 million people aged 65 and over.

U.S., China face UM test over push for vaccine ceasefires

Britain on Wednesday proposed that the U.N. Security Council call for ceasefires in war zones to allow for COVID-19 vaccinations, a move that will be a key test of cooperation at the United Nations between China and new U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged a “swift adoption” by the 15-member council of a draft resolution calling for vaccination ceasefires, warning that 160 million people were at risk of missing out due to instability and conflict.

Tanzanian politician’s death hints at concealed epidemic

A senior Tanzanian politician died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, his party said, adding to concern about a hidden epidemic running rampant in a country that insists it has no local transmission of the disease.

The president of Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, Hussein Ali Mwinyi, announced the death of Zanzibar’s first vice president, Seif Sharif Hamad, on television, without saying the cause.

With ski slopes closed, Parisians flock to the beaches

With ski lifts closed, Parisians have flocked to the French Atlantic coast where sunny weather and a spike in visitor numbers have given beaches an air of summer.

At upmarket La Baule, a five-hour drive west of Paris, hotels and holiday homes saw a flood of last-minute bookings as Parisians left the capital at the start of a two-week school holiday that is normally the height of the skiing season.



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