Hard-hit Brazil approves first two COVID vaccines
World|: Brasmlia: Brazil's Anvisa health regulator gave emergency approval Sunday for its first two coronavirus vaccines as the country gears up to roll out a mass inoculation campaign amid a devastating second epidemic wave. It authorized AstraZeneca and Oxford University's Covishield shot as well as China's CoronaVac, Anvisa announced, for use in a nation where the COVID-19 death toll now exceeds 209,000. Earlier this month, Brazil said the Chinese vaccine had been shown to be 50 percent effective in preventing people from contracting the virus. As for the Oxford vaccine, results published in December found it was 62 percent effective for volunteers given two full doses and 90 percent effective for those given a half dose followed by a full dose. But both appear to be short of the more than 90 percent effectiveness reported for vaccines developed by US pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna. The CoronaVac and Oxford vaccines have been caught up in a political battle in Brazil between Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, likely opponents in presidential elections next year. Bolsonaro has repeatedly tried to discredit CoronaVac and described it as "Joao Doria's Chinese vaccine." But after struggling to secure enough vaccine doses for Brazil's population of 212 million, the health ministry announced this month it had signed a deal with local producer, the Butantan Institute, for 100 million doses of the vaccine. Brazil is, meanwhile, hoping to bring two million doses of the AstraZeneca shot from India, where it is produced by the Serum Institute, in the coming days.
Opposition leader Alexey Navalny detained on return to Moscow
World|: Russian police detained opposition leader Alexey Navalny as he arrived in Moscow after being treated in Germany for a poisoning, an arrest that will likely fuel tension with Western nations. Navalny, 44, was met by officers at passport control as he landed in Moscow on a plane from Berlin on Sunday, according to a live video feed on his YouTube channel. The Federal Penitentiary Service said he had been detained for violating the terms of a suspended sentence, state-run Tass reported. "This is my home," he told reporters who'd traveled with him. "I'm not scared of anything," he said shortly before he was detained. Navalny boarded knowing that he could face a lengthy prison term if he returned. He kissed his wife, Yuliya, goodbye before walking off with police. Authorities said he would be held pending a court decision on his sentence. Dozens of his supporters were detained by police at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport, where he had appealed to them to meet him. The flight was diverted to another airport shortly before arrival. Navalny, whose anti-corruption exposes and success in galvanizing anti-government votes have increasingly needled the authorities, had been recovering in Germany from a nerve-agent attack.
Harris to be sworn in as U.S. vice-president by Justice Sotomayor
News/World: Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female U.S. vice-president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice.
Canadian aunt and uncle of Kamala Harris reflect on niece's upbringing, historic achievement
News/Politics: In the aftermath of the deadly siege on Capitol Hill nearly two weeks ago, vice-president-elect Kamala Harris took some time to call her aunt and uncle in Canada to let them know she was safe.
Navalny: Russia's charismatic anti-Putin campaigner
A charismatic anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny has been Russia's leading opposition politician for around a decade, determined to challenge Vladimir Putin's grip on power despite frequent prison stays and harm to his health.