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Health experts pour over AstraZeneca safety data.

Views expressed in this geopolitical news summary  are those of the reporters and correspondents.

Content supplied by "Reuters News Now."

Accessed on 16 March 2021, 1911 UTC, Post 1079.

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MARCH 16, 2021

Reuters News Now

TODAY'S TOP STORIES

The European Union reels from vaccine suspensions, cannabis investment lights up, and Icelanders really need some sleep

Global health experts are under increasing pressure to clear up questions over the safety of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, as more than a dozen European Union countries suspend their use.

A World Health Organization committee of experts is reviewing cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts in people vaccinated, but says there is no proven link.

The United States saw a 22% decline in deaths from COVID-19 last week, while vaccinations accelerated to a record 2.4 million shots per day, according to a Reuters analysis.

Meanwhile, German cases look to be growing exponentially again, India is seeing a spike in infections and Japan is battling clusters linked to daytime karaoke sessions.

See our global COVID-19 tracker for all the latest on the pandemic.



 A woman receives the AstraZeneca vaccination against COVID-19 at a drive-through site, in Milan, Italy, March 15, 2021

WORLD

 U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi elbow bump as they attend a news conference after their meeting in Tokyo, Japan, March 16, 2021

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned China against using "coercion and aggression" as he seeks to use his first trip abroad to shore up Asian alliances in the face of growing assertiveness by Beijing.

The sister of the North Korean leader has criticized ongoing military drills in South Korea and warned the new U.S. administration that the smell of cordite wafting over the border would not help bring peace.

In the back alleys of the old city of Damascus, Yaseen al-Obeid carries sacks of bricks to make some extra cash and supplement his monthly foreman's salary of $15. After a decade-long civil war, anger is simmering over Syria's economic collapse.

Icelanders are yearning for some undisturbed shut-eye after tremors from tens of thousands of earthquakes have rattled their sleep for weeks in what scientists call an unprecedented seismic event, which might well end in a spectacular volcanic eruption.


BUSINESS

Driven by a surge in cannabis use during the pandemic, industry entrepreneurs are gearing up for even greater growth. Among a closely knit network of investors are Liquid 2 Ventures, headed by former NFL quarterback Joe Montana, and Casa Verde Capital, founded by entertainer Snoop Dogg.

Nokia plans to axe up to 10,000 jobs within two years to cut costs and invest more in research, as the Finnish telecoms group seeks to step up its challenge to Sweden’s Ericsson and China’s Huawei.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has reached a content-supply deal with Facebook in Australia, a step toward settling a dispute that saw the social media giant briefly shut down thousands of pages in the country.

The booming stock market and cheap debt financing have helped push leveraged buyout prices to a record high, driven by sectors that have grown as people work and stay at home during the pandemic. That is worrying private equity investors.

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