(Reuters) - China's Sinovac Biotech defended the safety and efficacy of its experimental coronavirus vaccine after disappointing data from Brazil. Meanwhile, Indonesia launched one of the world's biggest COVID-19 vaccination drives, aiming to inoculate 181.5 million people using the Sinovac vaccine.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered officials to begin mass coronavirus inoculations next week and to open up the vaccination programme to all Russians.
* Switzerland tightened measures to tackle new variants of the coronavirus spreading across the country, while stopping short of the full lockdown neighbouring countries have adopted to choke off the pandemic.
* Germany will not be able to lift all curbs at the beginning of February, the health minister said, stressing the need to further reduce contacts to fend off a more virulent variant of the virus.
* Italy's health minister said the government would extend the country's COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of April.
* British airline easyJet said the National Health Service (NHS) would train hundreds of its cabin crew to administer COVID-19 vaccines under a fast-track scheme designed to help boost the country's vaccination efforts.
* Some Australian scientists have proposed delaying mass inoculation using AstraZeneca's vaccine with a view to considering a different shot instead.
* China posted its biggest daily increase in cases in more than five months and stepped up containment measures that have seen four cities put under lockdown.
* Japan expanded a state of emergency in the Tokyo area to seven more prefectures amid a steady rise in cases, as a survey by public broadcaster NHK showed most people want to cancel or postpone the already delayed Summer Olympics.
* More than 6,000 people in Singapore have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with numbers expected to rise substantially in the coming weeks as the city-state ramps up its immunisation drive.
* The Trump administration moved on Tuesday to accelerate vaccinations of Americans against COVID-19, releasing the rest of the doses it had been keeping in reserve.
* The Bolivian government said on Wednesday that it had signed a contract with India's Serum Institute for supply of 5 mln doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.
* Mexico will invoke labour provisions in the new North American trade pact in a bid to ensure that illegal migrants in the United States receive coronavirus vaccines, the country's top diplomat said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The daily cases in the United Arab Emirates crossed 3,000 for the first time this week as authorities urged people to accept vaccinations.
* Sudan has lifted a ban on travellers coming from Britain, the Netherlands and South Africa until April 11, the country's civil aviation authority said in a statement.
* Turkey's official Medicines and Medical Devices Agency granted emergency use authorization to China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
* China's Sinovac Biotech defended the safety and efficacy of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, after researchers in Brazil released late-stage clinical data showing efficacy that was much lower than initially announced. * Johnson & Johnson is facing unexpected delays in the manufacturing of its vaccine and may not be able to supply the doses it promised the federal government by spring, the New York Times reported.
* J&J is likely to apply for EU approval for its vaccine candidate in February, a top lawmaker said.
* European shares rose after a shaky start and the dollar edged up, while the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell from 10-month highs, helped by policymakers pushing back against talk of the Fed tapering its support. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to vaccines cloud the outlook, an IEA official said.
(Compiled by Bartosz Dabrowski and Milla Nissi)