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EUROPE: Single biggest deal for COVID-19 vaccines to date

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Moderna vaccine 'strongly protects' children from COVID

The European Union has moved to secure a record number of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccines, as court proceedings in its lawsuit with AstraZeneca heat up.

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The agreement will see the union buy up to 1.8 billion doses of the jab, making it the biggest single deal for a Covid-19 vaccine to date.

Fears have been growing in recent times over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine which is believed to cause rare, but potentially deadly, blood clots.

The European Commission announced the purchase during a visit to Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium, saying the vaccines will be used through to 2023.

The deal comes as pressure mounts on wealthy nations to stop hoarding vaccines to ensure there are enough available doses for developing countries.

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China challenges Australia anti-dumping measures at WTO

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China has challenged Australia’s anti-dumping measures at the World Trade Organisation.

The anti-dumping measures affect Chinese exports of train components, wind turbines, and stainless steel sinks.

China hopes Australia can adopt concrete measures so that bilateral trade can return to a normal track, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a news conference.

More to come.

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Why Singaporeans may have to learn to live with COVID-19

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Singapore is drawing up a road map to transit to a “new normal”, where COVID-19 is likely endemic.

Singapore’s government believes COVID-19 may never go away.

But ministers leading the city-state’s pandemic response say the good news is that it is possible to live normally with the virus in our midst.

Three key ministers have written an opinion piece in The Straits Times, outlining what they believe life will look like in a “new-normal” where COVID-19 is still around but can be controlled through mass vaccination.

The ministers, who lead the city-state’s pandemic task force, say they hope COVID-19 will become like influenza.

They haver pointed out that people carry on with their daily activities during the flu season, take simple precautions or get an annual flu jab.

The ministers want to work towards a similar outcome for Covid-19.

“We can’t eradicate it, but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease, or chickenpox, and get on with our lives.”

Rapid mass vaccination will be key

The ministers say “we are on track” to have two-thirds of the population vaccinated with at least their first dose by early July.

The next vaccine milestone will be to have at least two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated by National Day on August 9, supply permitting.

The ministers say they are working to bring forward the delivery of vaccines and to speed up the process.

The new-normal

It’s hoped that in the future, when someone gets COVID in Singapore, the response can be very different from now.

And instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, the focus will be on the outcomes, such as how many people are getting sick.

The government says in this new-normal, large gatherings can resume, businesses will have certainty that their operations will not be disrupted, and vaccinated travellers can be exempted from quarantine

But the ministers added a note of caution:

“The battle against Covid-19 will continue to be fraught with uncertainty.”

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Europe’s big plan to tackle “nightmare” cyber-attacks

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The EU will soon build a Joint Cyber Unit to tackle large scale cyber-attacks

Recent ransomware attacks on critical services in Ireland and on the Colonial pipeline in the US have promoted the move to take cybercrime more seriously.

The EU says cyber-attacks are a national security threat, with reported incidents in Europe rising to almost 1,000 last year.

A dedicated team of multi-national cyber-experts will be deployed to European countries during serious attacks.

A Commission spokesman said that “advanced and coordinated responses in the field of cybersecurity have become increasingly necessary, as cyberattacks grow in number, scale, and consequences, impacting heavily our security”.

Under the Commission’s proposals, it would “tackle the rising number of serious cyber incidents impacting public services, as well as the life of businesses and citizens across the European Union”.

EU vice-president said last month’s hack on US fuel supplies was ‘the “nightmare scenario that we have to prepare against”.

The attack sent major disruptions to the United States fuel supply, with gas stations running out of supply and being forced to shut down.

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