Your Friday briefing


A day after EU regulators described a possible link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and rare blood clots, more countries ended use of what is now the most widely used vaccine in the world.

Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark and Norway have completely suspended its use. The Philippines has said it will temporarily stop administering it to people aged 60 and under. Belgium has said it will stop for the Under-56s. Australia now recommends that adults under the age of 50 receive an alternative vaccine.

South Korea will decide this weekend whether it will resume administering the vaccine to those 60 and under. EU regulators said its benefits outweighed the risks for most people.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:

  • Slovakia, one of only two EU countries to have signed up to use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, reported that the doses it received were different from the peer-reviewed version in a respected UK medical journal .

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized that the risk of coronavirus infection from surfaces is low.

  • The governor of Tokyo has called on Japan’s central government to impose emergency restrictions in the city as infections rise just over 100 days before the start of the Summer Olympics.

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Describing gun violence in the United States as an “epidemic” and “international embarrassment,” President Biden announced his administration’s first steps to end it.

Mr Biden said the Justice Department will crack down on “ghost guns,” kits that allow a firearm to be assembled without a serial number. More than 10,000 phantom weapons were recovered in 2019. Mr Biden said he would demand the application of restrictions when a device marketed as a stabilizer splint turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, as it did in Boulder, Colo., Filmed last month.

The Justice Department will also release model “red flag” legislation for states, which would allow police officers and family members to ask a court to temporarily remove firearms from people who may pose a danger.

“This is just the start,” Biden said. He urged Congress to close gaps in background checks for potential gun buyers, ban assault weapons and strip gun manufacturers of protection from prosecution.

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The context: Gun violence remains the leading cause of death among black men aged 15 to 34. Homicides increased in the United States in 2020, with the trend continuing into early 2021.


After two months of sexual harassment and assault scandals, including an allegation of rape in Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a “roadmap for respect” for the country’s public and private sectors.

Mr Morrison said his government had adopted the country’s 55 gender discrimination commissioner recommendations “in whole, in part or in principle,” wording that has led many women to demand more detail and a clear timeline.

Details: The plan promises new legislation to end exemptions for judges and members of parliament from the country’s gender discrimination law, which critics say allowed lawmakers to act with impunity and made parliament a sexist and dangerous backwater. It includes more education in schools and would allow victims to file complaints for up to two years after an attack.

“Love is a slippery and intangible thing,” writes novelist Celeste Ng in an essay for The Times.

He’s captured in moments that are both vivid and ordinary: parents driving an hour and a half to visit children and restock their refrigerators, a young couple on motorbikes at night, a sleeping child surrounded by toy dinosaurs.

In the wake of the rise in anti-Asian violence and harassment in the United States, nearly 30 Asian and Asian-American photographers have shared what love is like in their lives.

Photos are from Oregon, Hawaii, Georgia, Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere. There are glimpses of food, texts and emails from sleepy friends, loved ones – the “everyday, mundane little things that add to what I’ve come to understand as love, ”as An Rong Xu, photographer, writes.

Take some time with the photo report here.

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