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Flights Shut Down As EU Discusses UK Virus Threat

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European Union officials are discussing a joint response to a new infectious COVID-19 variant found in the United Kingdom.

The new variant has been confirmed to be up to 70% more transmissible, but no evidence of being more deadly.

This new variant has caused more than 40 countries to block flights from the UK.

Canada and India also joined European states in blocking flights from the UK, while European train services via the channel tunnel have been stopped.

Sweden banned foreign travelers from Denmark after cases of the variant were discovered there.

W.H.O. Emergencies chief, Mike Ryan says the new strain is not out of control.

France shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, stopping trucks and ferries from leaving the port of dover.

Countries that have banned UK arrivals include Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, and Switzerland.  The U.S. is still holding out.

Health News

COVID-19 Could Become ‘Much More Treatable’ In Next Six To 18 Months, NHS Boss Tells MPs

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Head of England’s National Health Service, Sir Simon Stevens says there is a possibility for a combination of the coronavirus and flu jabs in a single vaccine for future winters.

Stevens told MPs on Tuesday COVID-19 could become a “much more treatable disease” in the next six to 18 months.

He said the emergence of new coronavirus treatments in the second half of this year offers hope of a “much more normal future.”

More than six and a half million people in the UK have received the first dose of a covid-19 vaccine, with nearly half a million having had a second jab.

The government says it plans to offer of a coronavirus vaccine first dose to 15 million people by the middle of next month.

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New Zealand’s Borders Remain Shut Indefinitely

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New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern has announced the country’s borders will remain closed for most of this year.

Ardern says medical authorities may approve a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week.

The prime minister says for travel to restart, authorities would either have the assurance those vaccinated don’t pass COVID-19 on to others, which is not yet known, or enough of the population needed to be vaccinated so people can safely re-enter the country.

Ardern says apart from Australia, the rest of the world simply poses too great a danger to the country’s health and economy to take the risk at this stage.”

The prime minister says the country’s medicines regulator, MedSafe, was working towards granting provisional approval for the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

The first vaccines are due to arrive in New Zealand by the end of the first quarter.

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Joe Biden Increases COVID Vaccine Goal For First 100 Days After GOP Criticism

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US president Joe Biden has increased the country’s daily vaccination goal to one a half million.

The president had announced last week that one million vaccines would be administered daily in the first 100 days of his presidency, but critics say that was too low because the us had already nearly reached that target under the trump administration.

Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that he will increase, by 15 percent, the amount of coronavirus vaccine sent to each state next week as his administration orders for more doses with Pfizer and Moderna.

The president says the U.S. has now ordered 600 million doses, enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans, by the end of summer or early fall.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses taken weeks apart for full efficacy.

Biden promised states will now have a three-week, reliable forecast of how much vaccine they will receive, and a receptive ear at the white house to coordinate distribution efforts.

The president also announced the federal government will reimburse governors who use their national guard troops to assist with vaccine distribution in their states.

Data from the centers for disease control and prevention show New York has received nearly two and a half million vaccine doses, and has administered about 60 percent of them.

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