Coronavirus latest: California becomes first state to administer 5m vaccine doses

The US budget deficit swelled to $163bn in January, a fivefold increase from a year ago, as Americans received a fresh round of stimulus payments to cushion the blow from the pandemic. The gap increased as tax receipts totalled $385bn, up about 3 per cent from the same period a year ago.

The German government extended the current lockdown until March 7, with Angela Merkel saying that the restrictive measures were clearly “having an effect” in terms of falling infection numbers.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed “double masking” in the wake of new research from its scientists that found wearing two face masks offers more protection against coronavirus.

The European Union is assisting the resale of vaccines by Poland to Ukraine, a country pursuing EU membership as it fends off seven years of Russian aggression. “The European Commission is assisting Poland in reselling 1.2m doses of [the] AstraZeneca vaccine to Ukraine,” European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

Target and Tractor Supply have become the latest companies offering employees incentives to get the vaccine. Target said it is providing up to four hours of pay, two for each jab, to its hourly workers when they get vaccines.

The heads of Unicef and the World Health Organization have urged that “we either win or lose together” in the global Covid-19 vaccine rollout as rich nations race ahead in inoculating their citizens, while poorer nations face a long wait to get their hands on supplies.

The World Health Organization has recommended the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for use worldwide by all adults, in a boost for the jab after a series of setbacks.

AstraZeneca has enlisted a German drug manufacturer to help bolster production of its Covid-19 vaccine and plug a shortfall in supply to the European Union. The pharmaceutical group has turned to IDT Biologika to identify ways to increase capacity.

Mexico will start vaccinating over-60s from next week, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said, using about 1m Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs expected to arrive at the weekend from India.

Coca-Cola’s sales dropped 5 per cent in the final quarter of 2020, as a resurgence of coronavirus cases prompted renewed curbs on restaurants and bars. However, sales fell less steeply than they did earlier in the year, and Coca-Cola reinstated its financial guidance with consumer trends having improved from the worst of the crisis.

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