The European Union has cemented its support for Pfizer-BioNtech and its novel COVID-19 vaccine and technology by agreeing to a massive contract extension for potential 1.8 billion doses through the year 2023. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday that her office has just approved the contract for guaranteed 900 million doses and with the same number of doses as a future option. The contract has unanimous backing from the 27 EU member nations. Von der Leyen says that the contract providing 1.8 billion doses for a block of 450 million residents will give the EU a lot of options.
Hundreds of people were seen partying on Sunday in Madrid, welcoming the end of Spain's 11 p.m. curfew, which was lifted in all but 4 of the country's 17 regions at midnight. State of emergency imposed last October, allowing the central government to enforce a nationwide curfew and local travel bans, ended at midnight and hundreds of young Madrid residents took to the square, traditionally used to celebrate New Year's Eve, to cheer freedom, dance, play the drums and drink with their friends. Many were seen maskless and not complying with social distancing. Madrid has a second highest COVID-19 incidence rate in Spain at 318 per 100,000 people.
Top US fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline has shut its entire network, the source of nearly half of the US East Coast fuel supply, after a cyber attack that company said it was caused by ransomware. The incident is one of the most disruptive digital ransom operations ever reported and has drawn attention to how critical US energy infrastructure is vulnerable to hackers. Shut down has raise fears of price spikes at gasoline pumps ahead of peak summer travel season if it persist. Colonial transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products through 5,500 miles of pipeline linking refineries and refiners on the Gulf Coast, to the eastern and southern United States.
The US Navy says it seized an arms shipment hidden aboard a vessel in the Arabian Sea. The announcement Sunday marks the latest such interdiction by sailors amid the long running war in Yemen.
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