* Germany, France and other European nations announced plans to resume using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday after EU and British regulators moved to shore up confidence in the shot, saying its benefits outweigh the risks.
* Johnson & Johnson is developing several next-generation vaccines against the emerging variants of the coronavirus, its CEO said.
* Japan will lift the state of emergency in the Tokyo area on Sunday, its prime minister said, while the capital’s governor warned citizens not to let down their guard.
* India’s coronavirus infections surged to more than a three-month high on Friday, led by a record daily increase in the western state of Maharashtra, where authorities have adopted fresh curbs to restrain the spread of the disease.
* Russia registered 9,699 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 4,437,938, the country’s COVID-19 response center said in a statement Friday. Meanwhile, another 443 deaths from the virus were reported, taking the country’s death toll to 94,267.
* Cuba’s drug regulatory authority on Thursday approved a second COVID-19 vaccine candidate for late-stage clinical trials as the country races to secure a homegrown shot to quell its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic and sell abroad.
* The African Union said African countries should continue to use AstraZeneca’s vaccine, echoing WHO by saying the shot’s benefits outweighed risks.
* Republic of Korea’s economy is still faced with weak domestic demand on the back of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, a government report said Friday.
* France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course.
* The Czech government has agreed to extend restrictions on movement among districts beyond March 21 until further notice as the pandemic ebbs slowly.
* France, Germany and Italy backed an EU threat to tighten vaccine exports as rifts over supply scarcity deepened.
* The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, bowing to pressure to share vaccine with its allies.
* Chile’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 5.8 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 health emergency, the Central Bank of Chile reported on Thursday. In a statement, the bank said that restrictions on people’s mobility and on production affected economic activity.
* The Canadian province of Ontario is entering a third wave of the pandemic, Chief Medical Officer David Williams said, though he added that it was not clear how quickly infections would rise.
* Mexico’s government said it would restrict movement on its southern border with Guatemala.
* US land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least April 21.
* Benchmark US Treasury yields hit 14-month peaks, putting fresh pressure on tech and other stocks as investors digested the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, while concerns over COVID-19 cases in Europe also sapped risk appetite and helped pummel oil prices.
* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 17,482 to 2,629,750, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday. The reported death toll rose by 226 to 74,358, the tally showed.
* The Australian government has reaffirmed its commitment to vaccinating the entire population against COVID-19 by the end of October.