FACTBOX-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

April 12 (Reuters) - Coronavirus infections in the South Asia sub-region surpassed the grim milestone of 15 million over the weekend, while India reported a record surge on Monday to overtake Brazil as the world's second-most affected country by the pandemic.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* Germany's vaccine task force will hold talks with the developers of Russia's Sputnik V shot, including the possibility of setting up more production sites in Germany, a government source told Reuters.

* More than 10 million people in France have now received a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

* Italy's government is preparing a new stimulus package worth more than 30 billion euros ($35.62 billion) to support its battered economy, driving up this year's budget deficit, a senior Treasury official said.

AMERICAS

* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro blasted a pending Senate inquiry on his handling of a record-breaking COVID-19 outbreak, which global health officials compared to a "raging inferno."

* Colombia will allow the private importation of COVID-19 vaccines, but the shots must be free for those being inoculated.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* China's output of vaccines could reach more than 3 billion doses by the end of 2021, a National Health Commission official said, while the country is also formally considering mixing vaccines to further boost efficacy

* Thailand plans to install 10,000 field-hospital beds in Bangkok as the country strains to cope with a third wave of COVID-19 infections.

* South Korea will move ahead with a second-quarter coronavirus vaccination drive starting on Monday as planned after deciding to continue using AstraZeneca's vaccine for all eligible people 30 years old or over.

* Strict COVID-19 lockdowns in the Philippines capital and four adjacent provinces will be eased from April 12.

* India banned the export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients as demand rocketed due to a record surge in cases.

* Japan began vaccinations for its sizable elderly population on Monday, with imported doses still in short supply and the pace unlikely to stop a fourth wave of infection.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Tunisia approved Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, Health minister Faouzi Mehdi said, and will soon receive 1.5 million doses of the vaccine under an African Union plan.

* Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country on Saturday.

* The African Union dropped plans to buy vaccines from the Serum Institute of India and is exploring options with Johnson & Johnson.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Europe's drug regulator said it is reviewing rare blood clots in four people in the United States who received Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine.

* The China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG) has obtained regulatory approval to move a third COVID-19 vaccine candidate into the human testing stage in China.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Asian shares faltered on Monday as investors wait to see if U.S. earnings can justify sky-high valuations, while bond markets could be tested by what should be very strong readings for U.S. inflation and retail sales this week.

* The International Monetary Fund said countries in the Middle East and Central Asia need to curb their financing requirements, as a surge in government debt, exacerbated by the pandemic, threatens recovery prospects.

* Japanese bank lending rose 6.3% in March from a year earlier as restaurants and hotels sought more loans to weather the pandemic hit.

(Compiled by Veronica Snoj, Sarah Morland and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Gareth Jones/Mark Heinrich/Subhranshu Sahu)

04/12/2021 5:41

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