While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 30

Workers prepare cool boxes for Covid-19 vaccines to be transported by an airplane at Brussels International Airport, on Dec 1, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

EU sets Covid-19 vaccine export controls, risking global battle

The European Union has unveiled a drastic plan to restrict the export of Covid-19 vaccines, stepping up its fight over access to millions of doses it says it has been unfairly denied.

With the EU far behind Britain and the US in the race to vaccinate its people against the coronavirus, the move by the European Commission will oblige drug companies such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca to obtain prior authorisation before sending shots manufactured in the bloc to other countries.

Britain, the US and Canada weren't included in a list of more than 90 countries that were granted exemptions from the mechanism.

The step represents a dramatic escalation in the global battle for vaccines, with thousands dying every day and the European economy struggling under lockdown measures that have lasted almost a year.


US First Lady to help reunite migrant kids with parents

US First Lady Jill Biden will participate in efforts by her husband's administration to reunite families split apart by former president Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies, the White House said on Friday.

In line with his campaign promises, President Joe Biden plans to announce on Tuesday "his launch of a task force on reunifying families and children. Something that he is personally committed to, his wife Dr Biden is personally committed to and invested in," said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Jill Biden, 69, has a doctorate in education and plans to keep teaching at a university close to Washington while her husband serves as president.


BA to trial mobile health passport, VeriFLY, on some flights

British Airways said it would trial a mobile health app on flights between London and the United States, as airlines line up technology to help overcome barriers to travel thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

BA, owned by IAG, said on Friday (Jan 29) it would trial the use of a mobile travel health passport, VeriFLY, following American Airlines, which is already using it.

VeriFLY combines travel verification documents and Covid-19 test results on a phone app to ensure passengers are compliant with destination entry requirements. Certified customers can then be fast-tracked through the airport.


Short-selling guru says won't publish research again

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Short-seller Andrew Left, whose company Citron was one of the hedge funds to spark this week's battle with small-time traders over GameStop Corp, said in a YouTube video on Friday that his company would no longer publish short-selling research.

The latest twist in a saga that has sent shock waves through Wall Street as amateur investors pile into heavily-shorted stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings, the move is a major change of course for one of world's best known short-sellers.

Left, the author of dozens of investigative reports on S&P 500 over the past decade, is credited as helping pioneer the tactic of betting against a stock by publishing research that encouraged others to follow his lead and profiting when they do.


Ex-Australian Open champ Wawrinka reveals Covid-19 fight

Former Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka said on Friday he tested positive for coronavirus at the end of 2020.

The 35-year-old, who won the first of his three Grand Slam titles in Melbourne in 2014, said he self-isolated at home in Switzerland.

World number 18 Wawrinka explained his physical preparations for the season-opening Slam had been affected by the setback.


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