Although nearly half of the more than 3.4 million reported COVID-19 deaths worldwide have occurred in the Americas, the actual numbers could be higher, the Pan American Health Organization warned, adding that the Indian variant has now been detected in 10 countries in the region. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals for case tracking and a summary of EUROPE news

* UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s inept handling of the pandemic resulted in tens of thousands of needless deaths, and officials even feared he would ask to be injected with the virus on TV to show he was benign his former chief adviser said on Wednesday. Johnson dismissed the criticisms. * A lawyer for the European Union accused AstraZeneca of failing to honor its contract with the bloc for the supply of vaccines and asked a Belgian court to impose a significant fine.

* The European Union’s medicines regulator said it was examining the death of a woman in Belgium who suffered from a blood clot and low platelets after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the first report of ‘death after the vaccine. * Belgium suspends vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for those under 41 years after death.

* All the staff of the French national team were vaccinated before Euro 2020, although the federation made no plans to protect football players, coach Didier Deschamps said. AMERICAS

* The Pan American Health Organization said cases and deaths have leveled alarmingly in Latin America, with countries in the region accounting for the five highest death rates in the world last week. * Brazil has identified the strain of coronavirus from India in a traveler passing through the airports of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

* The Brazilian government will send the first doses of the vaccine to workers at the port of Santos, with injections due to start this week at Latin America’s largest port, a shipping agency said. * After nearly a month of widespread protests, Colombian protesters stand ready to march on towns in provincial capitals to demand government concessions on economic support for the poor and other issues, amid emergency measures that , according to protest leaders, worsened working conditions during the pandemic.

* Wall Street bank chiefs praised the role of their institutions in getting the US economy back on its feet when they appeared before Congress. ASIA PACIFIC

* Tens of thousands are homeless after a powerful cyclone swept through eastern India, days after another storm tore through the west coast, putting pressure on authorities battling a second murderous wave. * Taiwan has directly accused China of blocking a deal with Germany BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccines.

* Vietnam will set up a special fund to conduct a vaccination program in the fight against its biggest epidemic. MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Zambian President Edgar Lungu has banned electoral rallies ahead of elections scheduled for August 12. * Bahrain will close shopping malls, restaurants and cafes for two weeks starting Thursday, state television reported.

* Qatar said recreation and education centers and restaurants may reopen to limited capacity from Friday. MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* AstraZeneca and Nipro have signed an agreement to supply its vaccine to Japan. ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Futures pointed to a stronger Wall Street open on Wednesday and European stocks were flat near recent record highs after U.S. Federal Reserve officials allayed inflation concerns, although the neo-currency Zeeland has risen on expectations of rate hikes. * Governments around the world, faced with strong evidence that the fallout from COVID-19 has widened wealth gaps, as well as the destruction of economies, have widened social safety nets and, in some cases, started to explore bolder ways to tackle imbalances.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Juliette Portala; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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