The rate of Covid-19 vaccinations reported in the US rose for a fifth straight day, stemming a slide that had brought daily inoculations to levels last seen in January.

The US budget deficit has exceeded $2tn in the first eight months of the fiscal year on the back of stimulus spending, however a change in the tax deadline led to a sharp drop in the budget gap in May.

US president Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a commitment to purchasing 500m Covid-19 vaccines made by BioNTech/Pfizer to donate to some of the world’s poorest countries.

US lawmakers have written to Pfizer’s chief executive over concerns that the drugmaker will raise the price of its Covid-19 vaccine once the pandemic recedes.

The shelf life of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has been extended from three months to four and a half months, easing pressure on states across the US which have millions of doses nearing expiry.

The Delta variant of coronavirus first identified in India is “poised to take hold” across Europe, the World Health Organization has warned. The variant is dominant in England, having overtaken the less transmissible Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, in May.

US consumer prices accelerated by the most in nearly 13 years in May as pent-up demand combined with higher prices for goods to stoke concerns about inflationary pressures.

The European Central Bank will maintain the pace of its bond purchases in the coming weeks, it said on Thursday, despite increasing its forecasts for eurozone growth and inflation.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday hit back at Dominic Cummings, denying he lied to Boris Johnson and saying the government had been better run since the departure of the prime minister’s former chief adviser.

Singapore will ease social distancing restrictions next week after bringing a recent rise in Covid-19 cases under control.

French insurer Axa is offering a settlement package worth €300m to 15,000 restaurant owners in the country over their claims for damages from the impact of Covid-19.

South Korea is considering early Covid-19 inoculation for workers at key exporters to prevent disruptions to production, according to the labour ministry and the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

BioNTech is planning a push into Africa to establish mRNA vaccine production facilities on the continent as part of a long-term effort to tackle diseases beyond Covid-19.

Japan is at risk of a rebound in Covid-19 infections because the public has stopped respecting state of emergency restrictions and mobility has increased, the government’s official advisory board has warned.

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