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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A healthcare worker giving a patient a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in Florida on Dec. 30. Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Thursday listed Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The approval — the WHO's first for a coronavirus vaccine — may allow some countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes so they can import and administer the vaccine quicker, the WHO said.

What they're saying: In issuing the emergency use validation, Mariângela Simão, the WHO's assistant-director general for access to medicines and health products, stressed that the world should strive for more equitable global access to coronavirus vaccines.

  • “This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines. But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” Simão said.
  • "It’s vitally important that we secure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stem the pandemic.”

The big picture: The approval also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to obtain and distribute the vaccine to countries in need.

  • People in Europe, the U.S. or other wealthy countries will likely gain access to the vaccine far before others in lower-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, do, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

Go deeper: EU launches coronavirus vaccine drive to inoculate 450M people

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Tim Scott hopes to reintroduce version of GOP police reform bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday he plans to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks and that he has discussed a potential compromise with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Why it matters: Eyes have again turned to Washington to take steps to address police reform in the wake of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict Tuesday, after efforts stalled in Congress last year.

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