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PARIS: US biotech firm Moderna said Monday its vaccine should remain protective against key coronavirus variants while the unrelenting pandemic led to tightened border restrictions worldwide.

In the face of deepening fears over new virus strains, Moderna offered some good news from lab studies of the variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

“We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants,” said CEO Stephane Bancel.

However, out of caution, Moderna will carry out more tests adding a second booster of its vaccine — to make three shots in total.

The United Nations put out a grim reminder that the virus is also taking a huge toll on global jobs.

On global borders, the United States was to join France, Israel, Sweden and others in pulling up the drawbridge to certain arrivals, amid deep concern about new strains of the pathogen that originated in Britain and South Africa. “It’s up to us to show that we are civic-minded,” Spaniard Claudio Barraza told AFP at Paris’s main international airport, after new rules on tests for arrivals came into force.

The European Commission on Monday urged tougher Covid-19 screening of travellers, calling on the 27 members states to impose pre-trip PCR tests for all those allowed into the European Union and quarantine on arrivals from zones where more-contagious virus variants were spreading.

In Washington, President Joe Biden was on Monday to reimpose a ban on most non-US citizens who have been in Britain, Brazil, Ireland and much of Europe, as well as adding South Africa to the list, a senior White House official said. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned “criminal violence” on Monday after anti-curfew protesters went on the rampage. Australia’s medical regulator formally approved the Pfizer vaccine, with the first doses expected to be administered in late February, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday.

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