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SAI to pay for Olympic-bound shooters’ competition-cum-training tour of Croatia | More sports News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Saturday said it will bear the expenses incurred during the country’s Olympic-bound shooting team’s upcoming competition-cum-training tour of Croatia.
The entire tour will cost Rs 3 crore.
A 15-member Olympic-bound Indian team will leave for Zagreb, Croatia on May 11 in a chartered flight to participate in the European Championship in Osijek from May 20 to June 6.
After that the Indian team will take part in the ISSF combined World Cup, to be hosted in the same city from June 22 to July 3.
The combined World Cup is being organised in place of the one earlier scheduled in Baku, Azerbaijan (from June 21 to July 2) but got cancelled due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in that country.
After the training-cum-competition stint in Croatia, they will directly leave for Tokyo to participate in the Olympics, beginning on July 23.
India is facing a devastating second wave of COVID-19, which has left the country’s health care system in complete shambles with most hospitals struggling for essential supplies like oxygen, ventilators, beds and life-saving medicines.



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Over 9 lakh patients on oxygen support across India, 1.7 lakh on ventilator: Harsh Vardhan | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: While 1,70,841 Covid patients across the country are on ventilator, as many as 9,02,291 patients are on oxygen support, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday.
In his virtual address at the 25th meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) to discuss the pandemic situation, the minister said that 1.34 percent of Covid caseload was in ICU, 0.39 percent of cases were on ventilators and 3.70 percent Covid patients were on oxygen support.
He said that across the country, the number of patients in ICU beds is 4,88,861 while 1,70,841 patients were on ventilators and 9,02,291 patients were on oxygen support.
The meeting was attended by Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep S Puri, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya and Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs Nityanand Rai.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare and Dr Vinod K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog were present virtually.
Paul gave a detailed report on the work of the Empowered Group-1 and highlighted the various efforts made towards ramping up hospital infrastructure for effective clinical management of hospitalized patients.
Giridhar Aramane, Secretary, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (Chair, EG-2) presented the current scenario of Liquid Medical Oxygen Production, Allocation and Supply.
Aramane stated that the production of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) has been maximized to meet the present demand of Covid patients.
The domestic production has increased to more than 9400 MT/day, the health ministry quoted him, adding that he also enumerated steps to import LMO, the status of establishment of PSA oxygen plants through the support of PMCARES fund with the support of DRDO and CSIR, enhancement of tanker availability, the functioning of the web portal and mobile application for Real-Time Tracking of LMO Tankers.

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Covid-19: SC sets up national task force to streamline oxygen allocation across the country | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday set up a national task force(NTF) to streamline oxygen allocation across the country.
“The rationale for constituting a Task Force at a national level is to facilitate a public health response to the pandemic based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge,” said the apex court.
The task force has been mandated to work on assessing and making recommendations for the entire country based on the need for, availability and distribution of medical oxygen and formulating and devising the methodology for the allocation of medical oxygen to the States and UTs on a scientific, rational and equitable basis.
The task force will also make recommendations on augmenting the available supplies of oxygen, facilitate audits to determine whether the supplies allocated by the Union Government reach the State/UT concerned.
It will also review and suggest measures necessary for ensuring the availability of essential drugs and medicines; plan and adopt remedial measures for ensuring preparedness to meet present and future emergencies which may arise during the pandemic; promote evidence based research to enhance effective responses to the pandemic and facilitate the sharing of best practices across the nation to promote knowledge about the management of the pandemic and treatment of cases.
“This Task Force would be tasked inter alia with formulating a methodology for the scientific allocation of oxygen to the states and UTs,” said the bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice M R Shah.
The SC also asked the Union and state governments, ministries, agencies and departments to “provide complete and real time data for facilitating the work of the Task Force.”
The cabinet secretary may nominate an officer not below the rank of Additional Secretary to depute for him, when necessary.
The tenure of the task force shall be six months initially.
The decision of the court comes amid many states, including Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra asking the Union government to supply more medical oxygen to their respective states.
The 12-member task force comprises Dr Bhabatosh Biswas, Dr Devender Singh Rana, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Dr Gagandeep Kang, Dr JV Peter; Dr Naresh Trehan, Dr Rahul Pandit, Dr Saumitra Rawat, Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Dr Zarir F Udwadia, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (ex officio member) and
Cabinet Secretary to the Union Government, who shall be the Convenor of the national task force.
The next hearing in the case will be on May 17.



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India’s role as major regional and global player will continue to expand: PM Narendra Modi and Portuguese PM | India News – Times of India

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PM Narendra Modi (ANI)

NEW DELHI: India’s role as a major regional and global player is set to expand over the coming years and its journey with the European Union in search of new routes of political, economic and technological cooperation will continue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa said on Saturday.
In a joint op-ed piece in Politico, they said the India-EU leaders’ meeting is an opportunity to expand cooperation in new areas of decisive importance for the development of contemporary societies and economies.
“India’s role as a major regional and global player is set to continue to expand over the coming years, and a strengthened partnership would offer Europe an opportunity to diversify relations in a strategic region of the world,” PM Modi and Costa said.
In the virtual India-EU leaders’ meeting on Saturday, the two sides are expected to announce the resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement after a gap of eight years, besides resolving to further broadbase their ties.
“The journey together between the EU and India will be continued and advanced as of tomorrow in search of new routes of political, economic and technological cooperation, with enormous potential for mutual benefits,” the two Prime Ministers said.
PM Modi and Costa said the India-EU meeting will provide new impetus to the partnership that will have a positive effect on international trade and investment.
“The meeting is a chance to expand cooperation between the EU and India in new areas of decisive importance for the development of contemporary societies and economies: the digital transition, connectivity, mobility, health, the energy transition and climate action,” they said.
The two leaders mentioned that the EU is India’s biggest trading partner and the second-largest destination for Indian exports, adding the two-way trade has increased 72 per cent in the last decade.
“It is the right time to resume negotiations towards an ambitious and balanced trade agreement capable of acting as a key driver for sustainable growth and jobs creation, both for India and Europe,” they said.
“Apart from everything else, an EU-India agreement would send a powerful signal to the world in support of the benefits of international trade cooperation,” they added.
The two Prime Ministers noted that a similar rationale applies to investment.
“The negotiation of an EU-wide investment protection framework would provide greater stability and certainty to companies from India and EU to expand their presence in each other’s markets,” they added.
PM Modi and Costa said India-EU relations have always been marked by mutual support and solidarity which was evident during the coronavirus pandemic when both have supported each other and the rest of the world.
“India extended medical supplies to Europe earlier and now the EU has extended assistance to India as it experiences a second wave of Covid-19,” they said.
The two Prime Ministers also said that Portugal and India have always played a unique role in bringing the two continents together, both in the distant and recent past.
PM Modi and Costa also said that Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore travelled extensively in Europe in different periods of his life.
“The great poet was a staunch believer in the principles of mutual understanding between peoples and in India’s mission to bring together the East and the West,” they said.
“He wrote frequently about the meeting of Europe and India, to which he attributed deep cultural, political and even personal significance.
“I have felt the meeting of the East and the West in my own individual life,” they added.

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Sergio Ramos suffers hamstring injury, may have played last game for Real Madrid | Football News – Times of India

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Sergio Ramos (Getty Images)

MADRID: Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos may have played his last game for the club after they announced on Saturday that he had picked up a hamstring injury.
Ramos’s contract runs out at the end of June and there are only four La Liga games remaining this season.
“Following the tests carried out on Sergio Ramos by the Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with tendonitis in the muscle of his left hamstring. His recovery will continue to be assessed,” Real said in a statement.
Real, who sit second in La Liga on 74 points, take on fourth-placed Sevilla – Ramos’s former club – on Sunday.
Injuries have plagued the 35-year-old this season, limiting him to 15 league starts and only five appearances in all competitions in 2021.

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Aamir Khan’s daughter Ira: I cry in the gym not because I feel fat but because I feel unable to move – Times of India

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Aamir Khan’s daughter Ira Khan has time and again encouraged conversations about self introspective subjects on social media. On her 23rd birthday today, the young star kid took to her social media handle to pour her heart out about her well being, and the challenges she is overcoming on a daily basis. “I don’t know how to start and I don’t feel like it, so I am just going to do it and go for it. I feel fat and now I am using the word fat like people do when they don’t really think about what they are saying and they just say words. Because I don’t actually mean fat”

She then added, “What I feel is heavy. I can tell that I have put on weight but that is different from feeling heavy. I haven’t done any physical exercise consistently for more than a month in over four years, maybe more”

Ira also opened up about suffering a slipped disc at 19, which in turn restricts her moving and carrying exercises smoothly. “I got a slipped disc at 19 and I am now 23. Today, I turn 23. I am still so far away from where I used to be. I cry in the gym not because I feel fat but because I feel unable to move the way I used to and it really bothers me.”

“I used to jump off the bed when I was a kid, I used to hold the railing and half-cartwheel over it, never just normally get off the bed. And now, I can’t get off a chair. I have to hype myself up, I have to pump myself with adrenaline to convince myself to stand up from a chair. Who thinks about standing up from a chair? I do and it has been bothering me and I have done nothing about it. It’s entirely my fault. I let go so much,” she added.

The young girl also shared consuming junk food by convincing herself that she will burn off the calories, which she doesn’t. “I still, in my head, think that I am a fit person so I eat a bunch of crap, thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll work it off’, but I don’t anymore. And so yes, the added fat and weight has increased and affected my feeling of heaviness. Obviously, it plays a part in it. But I really want to be able to move and use my body the way I used to be able to.”

On her big day, she has made a resolution to take charge of her life and take on a one-month fitness challenge. “4 weeks, 7 days a week, 25 minutes a day. Can I do it? No matter how I’m feeling emotionally. Can I do this for myself? #challenge” wrote Ira with video.



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Asian Games bronze gave me confidence I can achieve more: Olympic-bound shooter Abhishek Verma | More sports News – Times of India

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Abhishek Verma (TOI Photo)

NEW DELHI: Known as a ‘hobby shooter’ in the initial days of his career, Olympic-bound Abhishek Verma says the bronze medal he won in the 2018 Asian Games gave him the belief that he can achieve much more as a marksman.
A late bloomer, 31-year-old Verma won his first international medal — a bronze — in 10m air pistol in 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. He has had a meteoric rise since then, winning gold in the World Cups in Beijing and Rio in 2019 to currently sit as world number one.
“I started shooting in 2015 at the age of 27. People called me a hobby shooter. But after the Asian Games medal, I thought I could do something. Now I am going for the Olympics,” he said at a virtual media interaction arranged by the Sports Authority of India.
“Now also people asked me about starting late but I said age does not matter. You can succeed with hard work,” said Verma who will be a part of the 15-member Olympic-bound team to train in Croatia.
The team will leave for Croatia on May 11 on a chartered flight and take part in the European Championships and combined World Cup before flying from there to Tokyo for the Olympics which opens on July 23.
Verma said he could not do proper training after the Delhi World Cup in March — where he won a bronze — and so he is looking forward to the Croatia trip.
“I am happy to be going to Zagreb, the situation is tough here. After the World Cup (in Delhi), I could not continue my training. So, my focus (in Croatia) would be on regular training.
“There is also the combined World Cup event in Croatia. That is an added advantage,” said Verma who is an advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
He said he does not want to be distracted by the uncertainty around the happening of the Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am training with the thought that the Olympics will go ahead. I focus on giving my best on every shot in every competition. At the same time, I am ready for any situation. Whatever external situation arises, I will adapt to that,” said Verma who has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on April 27.
“Even in the World Cup here (in March), we had to make certain adjustments, like wearing masks. There were shields separating shooting lanes. It was awkward constantly having to remember to put on the mask. But we have to face it and adapt.”
Asked what aspect of his shooting he would look to improve upon, he said, “Earlier, I took 40 to 50 minutes to complete my shot. Now it is taking above one hour. I would look to do better in Croatia.”
He said he used to do dry practice for one hour during lockdown and two hours on average after that.
“We need dry training to maintain trigger and grip rhythm and co-ordination. I did dry training on doors but not on target. It’s to do with muscle memory. I can do dry practice with dumb bells. I do a lot of balancing work and training to build physical strength.”
On being away from home for three months, Verma said, “There may be some tension thinking about my family members but I have discussed with them.
“My priority is the Olympics and they know it.”
He also said coaches will play an important role in the next three months.
“There is little time for adjustment if there is any need for that. Coaches know what are the drawbacks of his shooters and they can rectify them quickly.”

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12 states account for over 80% of active coronavirus cases | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Twelve states accounted for 80.68 per cent of India’s over 37.23 lakh active coronavirus cases, according to official data.
Maharashtra has the maximum number of active cases at 6.57 lakh, followed by Karnataka 5,36,661, Kerala 4,02,997, Uttar Pradesh 2,54,118, and Rajasthan 1,99,147 cases.
The other states having large active cases are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Haryana and Bihar.
Ten states accounted for 70.77 per cent of the new cases in the last 24 hours, out of which Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 54,022, followed by Karnataka 48,781 and Kerala 38,460 new cases.
Among the remaining seven states and union territories with high daily new cases are Uttar Pradesh (27,763), Tamil Nadu (26,465), Delhi (19,832), West Bengal (19,216), Rajasthan (18,231), Andhra Pradesh (17,188) and Haryana (13,867).
A record 4,187 Covid-19 fatalities in a day took India’s death toll to 2,38,270, while 4,01,078 new infections were reported during the period, pushing the tally of cases to 2,18,92,676, according to Union Health Ministry data on Saturday.
The data showed that the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 per cent.
The 4,187 new fatalities include 898 from Maharashtra, 592 from Karnataka, 372 from Uttar Pradesh, 341 from Delhi, 208 from Chhattisgarh, 197 from Tamil Nadu, 165 from Punjab, 164 from Rajasthan, 162 from Haryana, 137 from Uttarakhand, 136 from Jharkhand, 119 from Gujarat and 112 from West Bengal.
Registering a steady increase, active cases have reached 37,23,446 which account for 17.01 per cent of the total infections, the data showed.
The national Covid-19 recovery rate has dropped to 81.90 per cent, the data showed, as the number of people who have recuperated from the disease recorded at 1,79,30,960. In the last 24 hours, 3,18,609 recoveries were registered in the country, it said.
Ten states accounted for 72 per cent of the new recoveries in the country. These are Maharashtra, with maximum recoveries, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Haryana.
A total of more than 30 crore tests have been conducted so far across the country while the cumulative positivity rate stands at 7.29 per cent, the ministry said.
According to official figures shared by the ministry, more than 14.8 lakh beneficiaries in the age group 18-44 have been administered the first dose of vaccine under Phase-3 of the vaccination drive so far.
On the other hand, the cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country so far has crossed 16.73 crore on Saturday, it said.
In the last 24 hours, nearly 23 lakh vaccination doses were administered with 9,87,909 beneficiaries getting the first dose and 13,09,348 beneficiaries receiving their second dose of vaccine, the ministry said.
“As many as 14,88,528 beneficiaries of the age group 18-44 years received their first dose of Covid vaccine across 30 States and UTs,” the ministry said.
These include Andaman and Nicobar Islands (663 doses), Andhra Pradesh (148 doses), Assam (33,693), Bihar (291), Chandigarh (2), Chhattisgarh (1,026), Delhi (2,41,870), Goa (934), Gujarat (2,47,652), Haryana (2,04,101), Himachal Pradesh (14), Jammu and Kashmir (26,161), Jharkhand (81), Karnataka (8,681), Kerala (112), Ladakh (86), Madhya Pradesh (9,833), Maharashtra (3,08,171), Meghalaya (2), Nagaland (2), Odisha (35,152), Puducherry (1), Punjab (2,785), Rajasthan (2,49,315), Tamil Nadu (10,703), Telangana (498), Tripura (2), Uttar Pradesh (1,02,407), Uttarakhand (19) and West Bengal (4,123).
The ministry said that cumulatively, 16,73,46,544 vaccine doses have been administered through 24,37,299 sessions, till Saturday morning.
“These include 95,22,639 health care workers (HCWs) who have taken the first dose and 64,30,277 HCWs who have taken the second dose; 1,38,62,998 frontline workers (FLWs) have received the first dose while 76,46,634 FLWs have got the second dose,” it said.
As many as 14,88,528 beneficiaries in the 18-45 years age group have got the first dose while among those above 60 years of age, over 5.35 crore beneficiaries got the first dose and 1,42,87,313 got the second dose.
Among the ones falling in the age bracket of 45-60 years, 5,47,33,969 got the first dose and 58,69,874 got the second dose, it said.
According to data, 10 states accounted for 67 per cent of cumulative doses given so far in the country which include Maharashtra (10.53 per cent), Rajasthan (8.27), Gujarat (8.13), Uttar Pradesh (8.05), West Bengal (7.04), Karnataka (6.19), Madhya Pradesh (5.07), Kerala (4.69), Bihar (4.55) and Andhra Pradesh (4.28 per cent).
The ministry said the global community has extended support to India and the country has got 2,933 oxygen concentrators, 2,429 oxygen cylinders, 13 oxygen generation plants, 2,951 ventilators/ Bi PAP/ C PAP and more than three lakh Remdesivir vials delivered so far.
“The global community has been extending a helping hand in supporting efforts of India to meet the challenges and requirements of the unprecedented surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the second wave of the global pandemic.
“This is a reflection of solidarity and goodwill towards India. The Union Government has ensured the global aid is being effectively and promptly allocated and delivered to States and UTs to strengthen their efforts during this critical phase,” it said.



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EU invites ‘concrete’ US plan on lifting vaccine patents – Times of India

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PORTO(PORTUGAL): Europe on Saturday passed the ball back to Washington in a debate over Covid vaccine patents, pushing the US for a concrete proposal and a commitment to export much needed jabs.
European Council chief Charles Michel, attending an EU summit in Portugal, said the bloc was ready to discuss a US offer to suspend patent protection on vaccines — once the details are clear.
“We are ready to engage on this topic, as soon as a concrete proposal would be put on the table,” Michel said, as EU leaders discussed the issue in Porto.
Michel, who represents the EU’s 27 national leaders, cautioned however that the bloc has doubts about the idea being a “magic bullet” in the short term.
The quickest solution to ramp up the distribution of vaccines globally was exports, and the EU encouraged “all the partners to facilitate the export of doses,” he said.
France has adopted a similarly sceptical approach — with President Emmanuel Macron saying Saturday that “patents are not the priority” — while Germany is openly hostile to the idea.
As the summit continued, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the leaders had approved a contract with drugs giant Pfizer/BioNTech for up to 1.8 billion does of their patented vaccine.
Influential voices have risen to back the push to waive patents, not least Pope Francis, who on Saturday criticised putting “the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of humanity”.
The World Health Organization, India and South Africa have all called for patents to be temporarily suspended.
The EU leaders’ comments came on the second day of an EU summit that was to also feature a bilateral meeting between the EU and India, where authorities on Saturday said the pandemic killed 4,000 people in a single day.
“It misses the point to say that (a patent waiver) is the emergency,” Macron said.
“The emergency is to produce more and increase solidarity now,” he said.
The day before at the summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “An IP waiver will not solve the problems, will not bring a single dose of vaccine in the short- and medium-term.”
EU officials briefing journalists in Brussels on the issue said the hoarding of crucial ingredients needed for vaccines was a larger obstacle.
The United States is not in a position to export Covid vaccine doses to countries in need because of contracts it signed with vaccine-makers preventing their use outside of America, and a Defense Production Act that restricts exports until Americans are vaccinated first.
That contrasts with the EU, which has sent more than 200 million doses abroad — as many as it kept for itself — prompting von der Leyen to describe the bloc as “the pharmacy of the world”.
EU officials are worried that Washington’s gambit to get around its own blockage by invoking a suspension of patents will end up painting Brussels as a villain if it does not follow suit.
An EU official briefing journalists on the complexities in the issue said on Friday that lifting patents, by itself, “will not fix things”.
Technology transfer and upskilling a vaccine-making workforce were also necessary, the official said.
Even if all those elements were in place, it would still take up to a year for a factory to start producing copycat vaccines.

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Covid-19: EU agrees potential 1.8 billion-dose purchase of Pfizer jab – Times of India

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BRUSSELS: The European Union cemented its support for Pfizer-BioNTech and its novel Covid-19 vaccine technology Saturday by agreeing to a massive contract extension for a potential 1.8 billion doses through 2023.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that her office “has just approved a contract for a guaranteed 900 million doses” with the same amount of doses as a future option.
The new contract, which has the unanimous backing of the EU member states, will entail not only the production of the vaccines, but also making sure that all the essential components should be sourced from the EU.
The European Commission currently has a portfolio of 2.6 billion doses from half a dozen companies. “Other contracts and other vaccine technologies will follow,” von der Leyen said in a Twitter message.
Pfizer-BioNTech had an initial contract of 600 million doses with the EU.
Saturday’s announcement also underscores the confidence the EU has shown in the technology used for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is different from that behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The active ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is messenger RNA, or mRNA, which contains the instructions for human cells to construct a harmless piece of the coronavirus called the spike protein. The human immune system recognizes the spike protein as foreign, allowing it to mount a response against the virus upon infection.
The announcement of the huge contract extension comes as the European Union is looking for ways to meet the challenges of necessary booster shots, possible new variants and a drive to vaccinate children and teenagers.
America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have already said that they would provide the EU with an extra 50 million doses in the 2nd quarter of this year, making up for faltering deliveries of AstraZeneca.
In contrast to the oft-criticized Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca, von der Leyen has said that Pfizer-BioNTech is a reliable partner that delivers on its commitments.
Two weeks ago, the EU launched legal proceedings against AstraZeneca for failing to respect the terms of its contract with the 27-nation bloc.
The AstraZeneca vaccine had been central to Europe’s immunization campaign, and a linchpin in the global strategy to get vaccines to poorer countries. But the slow pace of deliveries has frustrated the Europeans and they have held the company responsible for partly delaying their vaccine rollout.
So far, von der Leyen said, the EU has made some 200 million doses available to its 450 million citizens while almost as many have been exported from the bloc.



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