* The European Union and South Africa are in “intense talks” on how to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, potentially breaking a year-long global deadlock on the topic, an EU official said on Thursday.
* Russia called on pension-age doctors who quit during the pandemic for safety reasons to return to their jobs as the authorities reported a record one-day tally of cases as well as a record number of deaths.
* President Joe Biden on Thursday touted the success of mandates in spurring vaccination in the United States, but said more needed to be done to get the 66 million people who are eligible but still unvaccinated to get the shot.
* The US Treasury says initial reporting showed that US states have appropriated or budgeted 45 per cent of the federal COVID-19 relief funds they had on hand as of July 31, with a greater proportion of funds likely allocated in the last two months.
* A panel of expert advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration unanimously voted on Thursday to recommend booster shots of Moderna Inc’s vaccine for Americans 65 and older and those at high risk of severe illness.
* A panel of outside advisers to the US health regulator will meet late next month to discuss whether to authorise Merck & Co’s experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug, the agency said on Thursday.
* Verison Communications said on Thursday that about 30,000 non-union US employees must show proof of vaccination by December 8 under President Biden’s federal contractor executive order.
* Three self-test kits with an accuracy of around 97 per cent will soon hit pharmacy shelves in Australia.
* Melbourne will exit months of lockdown next week ahead of schedule, helped by a faster-than-expected vaccine uptake, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday, even though daily infections hit a record the same day.
* New Zealand reported its biggest rise in infections in six weeks, with all cases detected in Auckland, raising prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions in the country’s largest city beyond next week.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Nigeria has received 501,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the French government through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, a senior health official said on Thursday.
* President Joe Biden told visiting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday that the US will make a one-time donation of more than 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union, the White House said.
* Poland is donating a million AstraZeneca shots to Iran, the latest foreign delivery to be made from emerging Europe’s largest economy after a slowdown in its vaccination program.
* World Trade Organisation chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday said formal negotiations about a temporary waiver of intellectual property rules to boost access to vaccines were “stuck,” but informal talks were intensifying.
* Hungary will receive technology this year to produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at a Hungarian plant currently under construction, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Moscow on Thursday according to a foreign ministry statement.
* The pandemic has caused such extreme unemployment and poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean that a “statistical rebound” in growth this year will not be enough to overcome it, regional United Nations organisations said in a Thursday report.
* Consumers are starting to feel the pinch from the surge in costs coursing through the global economy. The rebound as restrictions are eased has exposed supply chain shortages threatening the fledgling economic recovery.