World Coronavirus Dispatch: Pfizer jab given to minors, has no side effects

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US Congress clears Biden's $1.9 trillion virus rescue plan

Days after a deeply divided Senate approved Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, it passed another hurdle. The US Congress cleared the rescue plan, sending it to the President for final approval. The aid, one of the biggest priorities of Biden, pumps massive amounts of money into the economy and is crucial to bring America out of the doldrums. The plan includes one-time direct transfers of up to $1,400 for millions of Americans and a jobless aid of $300 a week until summer. The stimulus also includes funding for distributing vaccines and relief for states, cities, schools and small businesses struggling during the pandemic. Read here

Let's look at the global statistics

Global infections: 118,006,153

Global deaths: 2,619,676

Nations with most cases: US (29,152,716), India (11,262,707), Brazil (11,202,305), Russia (4,302,726), United Kingdom (4,247,879).

Some Hollywood stars found an escape in Australia, sparking controversy

Having stamped out the coronavirus, Australia has managed to lure several Hollywood directors and actors to continue film production in the country. In effect, many celebrities, including Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa McCarthy, have found freedom from the pandemic there. But even as the stars pose for their posts on Instagram, in the US, where hundreds are still dying every day, some fans have looked on with envy. Even some Australians are grumpy that the country’s strategy for stamping out the virus has left tens of thousands of citizens stranded overseas. Read here

Vaccine given to Israel children has no serious side-effects

In a big boost to the vaccination drive, Israel has given the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to hundreds of children aged between 12-16 and found no serious side effects, indicating that the vaccine is safe on minors. Pfizer is conducting a study of 12- to 15-year-olds and expects to begin another for 5- to 11-year-olds. The University of Oxford has also announced a trial to test its AstraZeneca-produced Covid-19 vaccine on children young as six. Those studies are expected to take several months. Powering ahead with its vaccinations, Israel is set to the become the first country to vaccinate its children en masse. The country has already given at least one dose to more than half of the population. Read here

UK variant has significantly higher death rate: Study

A highly infectious coronavirus variant that has spread around the world since it was first discovered in Britain late last year is between 30 per cent and 100 per cent more deadly than previous dominant variants, according to a UK study published in British medical journal. In a study that compared death rates among people in Britain infected with the new variant -- B.1.1.7 -- against those infected with other variants of the virus, scientists said the new variant's mortality rate was "significantly higher". The B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in Britain in September 2020, and has since also been found in more than 100 other countries. Read here

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