Week 10 - 19/03/2021

Published on 19 March 2021 at 17:05

EU Resumes use of AstraZeneca Vaccine


The EU's leading states are to restart their roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after Europe's medicines regulator concluded it was "safe and effective".


The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reviewed the jab after 13 European countries suspended use of the vaccine over fears of a link to blood clots.


It found the jab was "not associated" with a higher risk of clots.


Germany, France, Italy and Spain said they would resume using the jab.


It is up to individual EU states to decide whether and when to re-start vaccinations using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Sweden said it needed a "few days" to decide.


Spain Passes Euthanasia Laws


Spain has passed a law to legalise euthanasia, becoming the fourth country in Europe to allow people to end their own life in some circumstances.


Spain's lower house of parliament approved the law with support from centre and left-wing parties on Thursday.


The law allows adults with "serious and incurable" diseases that cause "unbearable suffering" to choose to end their lives.


It is expected to take effect in June.


Before the law's passage, helping somebody to die in Spain was potentially punishable by a jail term of up to 10 years.


"Today we have become a country that is more humane, fairer and freer," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted just minutes after the vote. "The euthanasia law, widely demanded by society, has finally become a reality."


The passage of the law was celebrated by right-to-die campaigners, but condemned by conservative and religious groups.


Biden and Putin Exchange Blows


Russian President Vladimir Putin has hit back after his US counterpart Joe Biden said in an interview that he considered him to be a "killer".


"It takes one to know one," Mr Putin said on Russian TV, and challenged Mr Biden to talk to him live on air.


Mr Putin rejects accusations that his security services tried to kill opposition politician Alexei Navalny.


The US president also told ABC News Mr Putin would "pay the price" for alleged meddling in the 2020 US election.


Russia has called home its ambassador for talks to prevent the "irreversible deterioration" of ties.


The Russian government said Anatoly Antonov had been called back from Washington to Moscow as relations with the US had reached a "blind alley".


Mr Biden had been commenting on an American intelligence report that suggested Mr Putin had authorised an interference campaign in last November's presidential election in the US.


Westminster Intervenes over Northern Ireland Abortion Laws


The British government intends to take on new powers that would allow it to compel the Stormont Executive to provide abortion services in Northern Ireland.


The law was liberalised last year following action taken at Westminster.


The DUP and the Ulster Unionist party are likely to challenge the move.


While individual health trusts have set up temporary early medical abortion pathways, Northern Ireland-wide services have not yet been commissioned by the Department of Health.


The view of Health Minister Robin Swann is that the issue is a matter for the full Executive, not just his department.


It would seem the British government is no longer prepared to tolerate the stalemate. Regulations are expected to be brought to Westminster next week that would allow Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to intervene.

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