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U.S. to share 4 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine with Mexico, Canada

The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, yielding to requests to share vaccines with allies.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, yielding to requests to share vaccines with allies.

Mexico will receive 2.5 million doses of the vaccine and Canada is to receive 1.5 million doses, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“It is not fully finalized yet but it is our aim,” Psaki told a daily briefing. “Ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is … mission critical to ending the pandemic.”

The Biden administration has come under pressure from countries around the world to share vaccines, particularly its stock of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is authorized for use elsewhere but not yet in the United States.

AstraZeneca has millions of doses made in a U.S. facility, and has said that it would have 30 million shots ready at the beginning of April. The company’s shares rose slightly after Reuters first reported the news.

The deal to share the vaccine does not affect President Joe Biden’s plans to have vaccine available for all adults in the United States by the end of May, a senior administration official said, and it does not reduce the supply of available vaccine in the United States.

Two officials said the vaccine would be delivered in “short order” once the deal was completed, but they declined to give a more specific timetable.

The “releasable” or ready-to-use vaccines are being lent under a deal in which the United States expects to be paid back with doses in return. The senior administration official said that would take place later this year.

Psaki said the United States had access to 7 million releasable doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but had no plans to share them with any countries at this time other than Canada and Mexico.

FILE PHOTO: A vial with the AstraZeneca’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

“We … have a number of requests from a range of countries around the world and certainly we’ll continue those conversations,” she said.

Asked why Mexico and Canada were chosen, the administration official said: “They are our neighbors, they are our partners.”

Mexico’s government said on Thursday it would restrict movement on its southern border with Guatemala amid rising apprehensions of migrants trying to enter the United States, many of them unaccompanied minors.

Asked if the vaccine doses were being shared as an incentive for Mexico to help with the immigration issue, Psaki noted only that the two countries were discussing multiple issues at once.

‘MORE WORK TO DO’

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had requested the vaccine. The administration official said the countries were in touch about the vaccine loan. “We’ve been working through the diplomatic channels,” he said.

Mexico has in recent weeks leaned increasingly on China and Russia to secure vaccines to carry out its inoculation plans.

A senior Canadian government source said: “We’re having positive conversations with the U.S. Those conversations are fairly advanced but there’s more work to do.”

Reports of blood disorders have prompted more than a dozen nations to suspend use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, but the European Union’s drug watchdog said on Thursday that after an investigation, it was still convinced the benefits of that vaccine outweighed the risks.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca declined to comment on the deal but noted that its doses in the United States were owned by the U.S. government.

Biden has said if the United States has a surplus of vaccine, it will share it with the rest of the world. The White House has focused on vaccinating people in the United States, which has seen more than 530,000 people die from the virus, the most of any country.

Biden said on Thursday that his goal of having 100 million vaccine shots administered in the United States during his first 100 days in office would be met early, on Friday. Biden took office on Jan. 20. “That’s weeks ahead of schedule,” he said.

The country is getting prepared to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically if it gets authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the White House said.

The United States has pledged $4 billion to the global COVAX vaccine program that aims to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries.

The United States does not need the AstraZeneca shots to meet its target of having enough doses for all U.S. adults by the end of May.

The three authorized vaccine makers – Pfizer Inc /BioNTech SE , Moderna Inc , and Johnson & Johnson – have promised to deliver nearly 500 million doses to the United States by then.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Caroline Humer, Julie Steenhuysen, Steve Holland, Steve Scherer and Dave Graham; Editing by Heather Timmons, Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney

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Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-mexico-idUSKBN2BA22S

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Internal data from breach circulating online -CD Projekt

Internal company data leaked during a February security breach is now being circulated on the internet, Polish video games maker CD Projekt (CDR.WA) said in a statement published on Thursday.

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Cd Projekt headquarters is pictured in Warsaw, Poland January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Internal company data leaked during a February security breach is now being circulated on the internet, Polish video games maker CD Projekt (CDR.WA) said in a statement published on Thursday.

The attack, which compromised some of its internal systems including the source code to its much-hyped game Cyberpunk 2077, dealt another blow to the Warsaw-based business after the game’s launch was beset by glitches.

“We are not yet able to confirm the exact contents of the data in question, though we believe it may include current/former employee and contractor details in addition to data related to our games,” the statement said.

It added that the company couldn’t confirm whether or not the data has been manipulated or tampered with since the breach.

Separately, video game maker Electronic Arts Inc (EA.O) said on Thursday that it is investigating a recent data breach, where some of its game source code and related tools were stolen.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/internal-data-breach-circulating-online-cd-projekt-2021-06-10/

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U.S. seeks less costly clean hydrogen in climate fight

The Biden administration on Monday set a goal of reducing the cost of producing clean hydrogen, a fuel that could reduce dependence on others that emit greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 8, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Biden administration on Monday set a goal of reducing the cost of producing clean hydrogen, a fuel that could reduce dependence on others that emit greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

The Department of Energy (DOE) set a goal for hydrogen made with clean power, such as renewables and nuclear energy plants, by 80% to $1 per kilogram in a decade.

“Clean hydrogen is a game changer,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “It will help decarbonize high-polluting heavy-duty and industrial sectors, while delivering good-paying clean energy jobs and realizing a net-zero economy by 2050.”

It was the first of a series of DOE initiatives to accelerate and innovate in clean energy called Energy Earthshots intended to help the economy reach that emissions goal.

Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells that have byproducts of water and heat instead of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. It has long been used as rocket fuel, in oil refining and to produce ammonia for fertilizers.

So-called green hydrogen, made by using renewable energy to power electrolysers to extract it from water, is backed by many governments for use in vehicles, ships and energy plants, but is currently too costly.

Today, however, the gas is mostly extracted from natural gas or coal, called grey hydrogen, in processes that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.

The DOE issued a request for information on viable hydrogen demonstrations with requests due on July 7.

The United States can generate affordable electricity without producing carbon dioxide emissions by 2035 by deploying hydrogen or carbon capture technology, said a report released last September by a climate policy think tank.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/us-seeks-less-costly-clean-hydrogen-climate-fight-2021-06-07/

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Microsoft says error led to no matching Bing images for Tiananmen ‘tank man’

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) on Friday blamed “accidental human error” for its Bing search engine not showing image results for the query “tank man” in the United States and elsewhere after users raised concerns about possible censorship around the Tiananmen Square crackdown anniversary.

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People look at police officers standing guard at Victoria Park on the 32nd anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, in Hong Kong, June 4. REUTERS/Lam Yik

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) on Friday blamed “accidental human error” for its Bing search engine not showing image results for the query “tank man” in the United States and elsewhere after users raised concerns about possible censorship around the Tiananmen Square crackdown anniversary.

Users, including in the United Kingdom, Germany and Singapore, reported Friday that when they performed the search Bing returned the message, “There are no results for tank man.”

David Greene, civil liberties director at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that content moderation was impossible to do perfectly and “egregious mistakes are made all the time.”

But he said it could be more sinister: “At worst, this was purposeful suppression at the request of a powerful state.”

Hours after Microsoft acknowledged the issue, the “tank man” search returned only pictures of tanks elsewhere in the world.

“Tank man” is often used to describe an unidentified person famously pictured standing before tanks in China’s Tiananmen Square during pro-democracy demonstrations in June 1989.

Microsoft said the issue was “due to an accidental human error and we are actively working to resolve this.”

Smaller search engines such as DuckDuckGo that license results from Microsoft faced similar issues around “tank man” searches and said they expected a fix soon.

Rival Google (GOOGL.O) showed many results for the famous image when the “tank man” search was performed on Friday.

A significant percentage of the Microsoft employees who work on Bing are based in China, including some who work on image-recognition software, according to a former employee.

China is known to require search engines operating in its jurisdiction to censor results, but those restrictions are rarely applied elsewhere.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

But he said it could be more sinister: “At worst, this was purposeful suppression at the request of a powerful state.”

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/microsoft-bing-raises-concerns-over-lack-image-results-tiananmen-tank-man-2021-06-04/

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