EU regulator OKs Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all adults The viral vector vaccine was long seen as the front-runner but was delayed after clinical trial issues in the fall. EU vaccine export row: Bloc backtracks on controls for NI Canada to quarantine travelers, suspend flights south

EU regulator OKs Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all adults The viral vector vaccine was long seen as the front-runner but was delayed after clinical trial issues in the fall. EU vaccine export row: Bloc backtracks on controls for NI Canada to quarantine travelers, suspend flights south

EU regulator OKs Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all adults The viral vector vaccine was long seen as the front-runner but was delayed after clinical trial issues in the fall. EU vaccine export row: Bloc backtracks on controls for NI Canada to quarantine travelers, suspend flights south The coronavirus vaccine by Oxford/AstraZeneca is safe and effective enough to use in adults over the age of 18, the European Medicines Agency announced Friday. The European Commission is expected later Friday to rubber-stamp the EMA’s recommendation to formally approve the vaccine in the EU with a conditional marketing authorization. A German scientific committee said Thursday there wasn’t enough data to know whether the jab is suitable for people 65 and over. The U.K. approved the vaccine at the end of December with a temporary emergency use authorization applicable in people over the age of 18. The British vaccine was expected to help Europe’s lagging vaccination campaigns because it’s far cheaper and easier to use compared to the two mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna licensed in the EU. But the company announced on January 22 that it will provide at least 75 million doses fewer than expected in the first quarter. The European Commission signed a contract in August to secure 300 million doses of the viral vector vaccine, with the option to purchase an additional 100 million. The viral vector vaccine was long seen as the front-runner but was delayed after clinical trial issues in the fall. The vaccine trials reported an overall 70 percent efficacy rate — 62 percent when participants were given two full doses and 90 percent when they were initially given a half-dose by accident. The EU has reversed its decision to temporarily override part of the Brexit deal amid an ongoing row over Covid vaccine supplies in the bloc. The move would have seen checks at the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland to prevent shipments entering the UK. But the European Commission later said it would ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol is "unaffected". Boris Johnson had expressed "grave concerns" about the plan in a phone call with the commission's president. President Ursula von der Leyen later tweeted to say she had held "constructive talks" with the prime minister. She said they had "agreed on the principle that there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities". What's the problem with the EU's vaccine programme? EU brings in controls on vaccines to Northern Ireland EU approves AstraZeneca vaccine amid supply row The EC proposals had also sparked concern from all five parties in Northern Ireland's devolved government and Irish prime minister Micheál Martin. Mr Martin welcomed the EU's reversal, describing it as a "positive development given the many challenges we face in tackling Covid-19". However, it was not thought that the move would have directly disadvantaged Northern Ireland, which gets its vaccine supplies through the UK procurement system. 'Actions justified' The Brexit deal guarantees an open border between the EU and Northern Ireland, with no controls on exported products. However, Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol part of the deal allows the EU and UK to chose to suspend any aspects they consider are causing "economic, societal or environmental difficulties". The EU had announced it would trigger the clause and introduce the export controls on its vaccines entering Northern Ireland in a bid to prevent the region becoming a backdoor for jabs to be sent to the wider UK. It said the actions were "justified" to avert problems caused by a lack of supply . Mistake," "misjudgement," "blunder." These are just some of words EU insiders have been using privately to describe the European Commission's initial decision on Friday to suspend areas of the Brexit deal dealing with Northern Ireland, a part of its Covid vaccine row. Although it then U-turned on those plans, critics say the damage was already done. Brussels previously lectured the UK government about respecting the Irish Protocol - which was painfully and carefully drafted during Brexit negotiations. Now the EU seemed quick to undermine the agreement. Member state Ireland felt stung that it hadn't been consulted. This all adds to the impression of chaos surrounding the EU's vaccine rollout. Brussels was already under fire from a growing number of EU countries for having been slow to sign vaccine contracts with pharmaceutical companies. This "mishap" over the Irish Protocol as Spain's Foreign Minister called it, hasn't exactly helped the commission's reputation. 2px presentational grey line Despite backtracking on Article 16, the EU is still introducing new controls giving its member states the power to block exports of the coronavirus vaccine to countries including the UK - should they want to. The move was the latest development in a deepening dispute over the vaccine producer AstraZeneca's delivery commitments to the EU. The bloc agreed to buy up to 400m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last year, and on Friday the EU's drugs regulator approved the vaccine's use for all adults. How many people have had the jab so far? Coronavirus: A year of high-speed discovery Single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab is 66% effective But the firm said that due to problems at one of its EU factories, supplies would be reduced by about 60% in the first quarter of 2021. The statement from the European Commission said it in order to tackle "the current lack of transparency" over vaccine exports outside the EU, it would be introducing a measure requiring that all such exports "are subject to an authorisation" by member states. While the commission rowed back from the Article 16 threat, the EU warned that it would "consider using all the instruments at its disposal" should vaccine supplies "toward third countries be abused to circumvent the effects of the authorisation system". 'Profound misjudgement' The EU's original move was criticised by a string of politicians, with Northern Ireland's First Minister Arelne Foster describing it as "an incredible act of hostility" that places a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In a phone call earlier with the Irish Taoiseach Mr Martin on Friday evening, Mr Johnson "set out his concerns" about the move and "what these actions may mean for the two communities in Northern Ireland", according to a No 10 spokesperson. The PM is also said to have "stressed the UK's enduring commitment" to the Good Friday agreement and called on the EU to "urgently clarify its intentions and what steps it plans to take to ensure its own commitments with regards to Northern Ireland are fully honoured". Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney welcomed the EU's reversal, but said "lessons should be learned". "The Protocol is not something to be tampered with lightly, it's an essential, hard won compromise, protecting peace and trade for many," he tweeted . Labour's Louise Haigh, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, said the EU's "profound misjudgement" had caused "unnecessary damage and set back efforts to make the Protocol work". Meanwhile, in an interview with the Times, Michel Barnier, who was the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, called for "cooperation" between the EU and the UK over the vaccine supplies across Europe. He said the world was facing an "extraordinarily serious crisis" which he argued must be faced with "responsibility" rather than the "spirit oneupmanship or unhealthy competition". He added: "I recommend preserving the spirit of co-operation between us." TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced stricter restrictions on travelers in response to new, likely more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus — including making it mandatory for travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada and suspending airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until April 30. Trudeau said in addition to the pre-boarding test Canada already requires, the government will be introducing mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada. “Travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000,” Trudeau said.

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