Follow the latest corona news in this live blog.
1:50 pm – Germany tightens corona checks at the French border
In the fight against the spread of dangerous mutations of the corona virus, access from the French border region of Moselle to Germany is severely restricted. The federal government on Sunday designated the region bordering Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate as a so-called virus variant area, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German counterpart of the RIVM.
Entry bans are in place in such areas with a few exceptions, such as truck drivers and people with certain essential professions.
Fifteen other countries and regions, including the Czech Republic and Tyrol in Austria, have been declared risk areas by Germany due to the spread of new corona mutants. Entry bans for those areas caused long traffic jams on highways leading to the German border earlier this month.
The European Commission has previously labeled German travel restrictions as disproportionate and not in line with an agreed EU-wide framework.
1.31 pm – Police fines FVD supporters Nijmegen
On Sunday morning, the police in Nijmegen fined an as yet unknown number of people for handing out leaflets during a meeting of Forum for Democracy (FVD) without keeping a distance of 1.5 meters. According to the police, flyers are only allowed under the corona rules if the flyers are not put from one hand to the other. Police have also arrested two men for sedition.
The FVD meeting at the Kelfkensbos in Nijmegen was very well attended. Dozens of counter-protesters also gathered in the city. A large police force kept both groups far apart. A group of counter-protesters who disrupted the speech of FVD leader Thierry Baudet from a roof with sirens and drums, was taken down by agents. The protesters against racism and fascism were allowed to meet at another square in the center of Nijmegen, surrounded by the police.
The police are investigating whether FVD violated corona rules during an earlier meeting in Urk. In Nijmegen, supporters of the party adhered to the 1.5 meter distance between them. Nobody wore a face mask. There were also no photo sessions with foreman Baudet.
12:45 pm – German states: Young people should also receive AstraZeneca vaccine
Leaders from several German states have called for the vaccination of younger people with AstraZeneca’s corona vaccine. That drug now remains on the shelf. This is partly because some Germans who are eligible for the vaccine prefer a different drug.
The German Ministry of Health announced last week that only 15 percent of the available doses of AstraZeneca had been used. Some Germans may fear that the drug is less effective than other vaccines or are concerned about side effects. The European regulator EMA says the drug is safe.
The Prime Ministers of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Saxony believe that guidelines for the use of the vaccine should be relaxed if doses for elderly Germans are not used. “We cannot afford not to use it because some people who have a right to it reject it,” Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann told Welt am Sonntag.
Elderly Germans are already being vaccinated with other vaccines. This is because government experts have recommended that AstraZeneca should only be used in people between the ages of 18 and 64. The underlying reason is that only a limited number of elderly people participated in the study of the drug. As a result, it was not entirely clear how well the drug works in people in that age group.
National authorities have encouraged Germans to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca drug. The CEO of health institute RKI, the German counterpart of the RIVM, said on Friday that data from Israel and the United Kingdom shows that the drug is “very effective”. Health Minister Jens Spahn called the vaccine “safe and effective.”
12.34 pm – Viktor Orbán takes Chinese corona vaccine
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been vaccinated with a corona vaccine developed by Chinese manufacturer Sinopharm, the prime minister announced on his Facebook page on Sunday. “Vaccinated,” Orbán wrote in photos showing him getting an injection and a doctor showing the vaccine packaging.
Hungary started vaccinating people with the Chinese vaccine on Wednesday. It is the only country in the European Union that uses the medicine, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not yet approved this vaccine. The Hungarian regulator has approved the vaccine.
Some 275,000 people are being vaccinated with the drug, authorities previously announced. Hungary receives vaccines from the EU, but also focuses on Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik-V.
Orbán said on Wednesday that people must get vaccinated, otherwise relaxations cannot be implemented. According to the prime minister, the situation is not yet good enough to water down measures.
9.22 am – Arrests in anti-lockdown protest
Danish police have made eight arrests in an anti-lockdown protest in Copenhagen. In the capital, some 1,200 people had taken to the streets, authorities said. It was the first major protest since the government announced a partial relaxation of corona measures last week. According to the opposition, this does not go far enough.
Saturday night’s protest rally was mostly peaceful. A group calling itself ‘Men in Black’ had called for the manifestation on the square near the town hall. The police arrested people for shooting fireworks and disturbances, among other things.
In Denmark, some critics of government policy are demanding that lockdown measures be phased out more quickly. Danes can go back to some shops from Monday and more people are allowed to participate in outdoor sports events. Many other measures have been extended until the beginning of April, including the closure of catering establishments.
It was exactly a year ago on Saturday that Denmark was first diagnosed with a corona infection. Since then, the Northern European country has reported more than 200,000 corona cases and about 2,350 deaths. Denmark hopes to be able to vaccinate 100,000 inhabitants a day against the virus in the long term, if sufficient vaccines are available.
10:39 am – Argentines take to the streets against VIP vaccination priority
Thousands of Argentinians have taken to the streets in Buenos Aires over a scandal over public figures who were given priority in vaccinations. Protesters had brought with them signs saying “give me my vaccine” and “stop wasting our money.”
The scandal this month cost Health Minister Ginés González García. His friends would have been vaccinated against the corona virus as a priority. This came out when a friend of the minister, a 71-year-old journalist, told about it on the radio.
In Argentina, only medical personnel were initially eligible for a corona vaccine. Some elderly people have also been vaccinated since last Wednesday. The government has now released a list with the names of dozens of people who have already received a vaccine outside the official vaccination campaign. These include former president Eduardo Duhalde and his family.
Argentines reacted furiously to the affair. “They started by vaccinating friends of the government. That is inappropriate. They steal the lives of others, ”complained a protester. Protesters had also hung body bags with the names of vaccinated public figures near the president’s office, who responded in displeasure.
Argentina, a population of 44 million, has so far received 1.2 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, 580,000 doses of the Indian-made Covishield and 904,000 doses of the drug from the Chinese Sinopharm. New Health Minister Carla Vizzotti promised the vaccination campaign will be fair.
Other South American countries are under the spell of similar affairs. In Ecuador, Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos resigned on Friday due to alleged abuses. Hundreds of prominent figures are said to have been vaccinated in turn in Peru, including former president Martin Vizcarra.
6.54 am – America gives the green light to Janssen vaccine
The American regulator of medicines (FDA) recommends that the corona vaccine of the Leiden pharmaceutical company Janssen be allowed on the American market. The drug can now be used quickly to vaccinate millions of people.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the US owner of Janssen, started distributing the vaccines in the US immediately after the decision. Janssen can directly deliver 4 million doses to the Americans. According to J&J, 20 million doses should have been administered across the United States by the end of March, and the target number is 100 million vaccines administered by the end of June this year.
The FDA recommends that the vaccine should only be administered to people 18 years of age and older. The FDA had previously called the drug safe and about 72 percent effective. An emergency approval was therefore no longer in the way.
The green light was given a day after an independent expert committee gave FDA approval for the vaccine. The approval is a boost for the US vaccination campaign, which has gotten back on track after a slow rollout. About 47.2 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the CDC Health Service.
The Janssen vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperature. Also, only one injection has to be taken with the Leiden drug, unlike the vaccines from Pfizer and Astra / Zeneca that were previously approved.
It is also expected that the vaccine can be used quickly in the European Union. The European regulator EMA wants to approve it on March 11, it was heard at the EU. The European Commission has already announced that Janssen’s vaccine will be delivered in the EU from April. Brussels has a deal for 200 million doses, with an option for another 200 million.
6.45 am – Germany reports just under 8,000 new infections
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German counterpart of the RIVM, reports 7,890 new corona infections on Sunday. That is less than the past two days, when the RKI reported about 10,000 new positive tests.
The total number of confirmed infections now stands at 2,442,336. The death toll rose by 157 to 70,045 on Sunday.
6:30 am – The Czech Republic requests Russia deliveries of Sputnik V vaccine
Czech President Milos Zeman has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for deliveries of the Russian corona vaccine Sputnik V. Although the vaccine has yet to be approved in his country, Zeman expects his Czech Republic to use the vaccine.
Zeman believes that approval by the Czech state institute for drug control is enough to be able to vaccinate the population with Sputnik V. Prime Minister Andrej Babis says, however, that official approval from the European Medicines Agency EMA is also necessary to be able to do this.
In the Czech Republic, more and more critical voices are being voiced about what they think is too slow in the country’s vaccination program. Of the 10.7 million inhabitants, nearly 650,000 have so far been vaccinated with vaccinations from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer / BioNTech.
Russia approved its own vaccine for use last summer. Research, published in the journal Lancet, has shown that Sputnik V is 91.6 percent effective against the corona virus. The country claims that the Russian vaccine is already being used in 30 countries. Hungary started using the drug this month, as the first member of the European Union.