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Brazil Seeks to Import Excess US Coronavirus Vaccines 

FILE - A health worker treats a COVID-19 patient in the ICU ward at the Hospital das Clinicas in Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 19, 2021.

Brazil is in talks with the United States to import excess doses of coronavirus vaccines, its Foreign Ministry tweeted Saturday.

The South American nation recorded 79,069 new coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period, its Health Ministry said Saturday, and reported more than 2,400 COVID-19 deaths.

The talks between the U.S. and Brazil began March 13. On Friday, the U.S. said it was lending 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada and Mexico but did not mention Brazil.

The U.S. has millions of doses of vaccine developed by Britain’s University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical giant that have been approved by the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency but not for use in the U.S. yet.

Second-highest death toll

Brazil is second behind the U.S. in the number of coronavirus cases, nearly 12 million since the pandemic began, and deaths, nearly 293,000.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who famously told his country to "stop whining" about the country's death from "a little flu," has signed three measures to speed the purchase of vaccines, including those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

Several European countries were under new coronavirus restrictions Saturday to combat new waves of infections.

Streets are empty in front of the Moulin Rouge as a 7 p.m curfew starts in Paris, March 20, 2021.
Streets are empty in front of the Moulin Rouge as a 7 p.m curfew starts in Paris, March 20, 2021.

About one-third of France’s population was under lockdown after measures were imposed Friday in Paris and several regions in northern and southern parts of the country. More than 4,300 people were in intensive care units in France, the most this year, the Health Ministry said Saturday.

About 6.1 million people in France have received their first COVID-19 shots, or just less than 12% of the adult population.

Closures in Poland, Ukraine

In Poland, which is seeing the highest number of daily cases since November, new measures have forced nonessential shops and other facilities to close for three weeks.

Nonessential stores have also been closed in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, where only food markets are allowed to stay open.

France, Germany and Italy resumed use Friday of a coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca after health officials sought to allay concerns it might cause blood clots.

FILE - A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Edouard Herriot hospital, Feb. 6, 2021, in Lyon, France.
FILE - A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Edouard Herriot hospital, Feb. 6, 2021, in Lyon, France.

The European nations resumed inoculations after the European Medicines Agency, which regulates medicine, said the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine was “safe and effective” and the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.N. body responsible for public health, said “available data do not suggest any overall increase in clotting conditions” among those who have been vaccinated.

However, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the country’s health advisory body was recommending AstraZeneca vaccinations only for people 55 or older.

French officials cited an assessment by the EMA that it could not rule out a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a small number of blood clots, particularly in younger women. The EMA said that overall, the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks of side effects.

Vaccine's 'tremendous potential' cited

The WHO repeated its recommendation Friday for countries worldwide to continue to administer shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The agency’s expert committee on coronavirus vaccines said that the AstraZeneca vaccine has “tremendous potential to prevent infections and reduce deaths” and that “it is not certain” the vaccine has caused the blood clotting.

Global spectators will be barred from entering Japan for the Summer Olympics because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee said Saturday.

The committee said overseas ticket buyers would receive refunds.

The pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympic Games last year, but organizers have said they are committed to hosting the games this year, despite waning public sentiment.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said that as of Saturday evening EDT, there had been 122.7 million global COVID-19 infections so far. The countries with the most cases were the U.S. with 29.8 million, Brazil with 11.9 million and India with 11.6 million.