What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·2-min read
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Mexico City

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Fully vaccinated can gather without masks indoors, should still avoid travel, U.S. says

People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can meet without masks indoors in small groups with others who have been inoculated but should avoid non-essential travel and continue to wear face-coverings in public, the Biden administration said on Monday.

The recommendations come as about 30 million people, or 9.2% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines, according to CDC data. The United States reported a 12% decline in new COVID-19 cases last week, while vaccinations accelerated to a record 2.2 million shots per day, according to a Reuters analysis of state, county and CDC data.

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine neutralises Brazil variant

The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE was able to neutralize a new variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Brazil, according to a laboratory study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday.

Pfizer said it believes its current vaccine is highly likely to protect against the variant first identified in South Africa.

However, the drugmaker is planning to test a third booster dose of their vaccine and a version retooled specifically to combat the variant in order to better understand the immune response.

Science says it's safe, but some in France don't trust AstraZeneca vaccine

According to the most recent data made available by the French health ministry, for the end of February, France was using 24% of its AstraZeneca doses, compared with 82% for vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, and 37% for the Moderna shot.

That is partly due to logistical bottlenecks, but also because some French people don't trust the AstraZeneca shot - despite multiple scientific studies that indicate it is safe and effective - according to interviews Reuters conducted with eight people involved in France's vaccine rollout.

Japan's Terumo develops syringe to draw 7 doses from Pfizer vials

Japan's Terumo Corp said on Tuesday it has developed a new syringe that can get seven doses out of each vial of COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer Inc, at least one more than accessible with existing syringes.

The health ministry approved the design on Friday, and Terumo will begin production at the end of March, a Terumo spokesman told Reuters. The Kyodo News agency, which first reported the development, said Terumo is aiming to make 20 million units this year.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)