(Reuters) - The U.S. government is working with drugmakers to maximize availability of influenza vaccines, worried that a substantial flu season on top of another wave of the novel coronavirus could swamp the healthcare system this fall, a top U.S. health official said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 6.57 million people have been reported infected with the new coronavirus globally and 386,379 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 1850 GMT on Thursday.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* For Eikon users, see MacroVitals (cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=1592404098) for a case tracker and a summary of developments.
* British drugmaker AstraZeneca has doubled manufacturing capacity for its potential coronavirus vaccine to 2 billion doses in a handful of deals involving Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates that guarantee early supply to lower income countries.
* The European Union is preparing to use an emergency 2.4-billion-euro fund for advance purchases of promising vaccines against COVID-19, EU officials told Reuters.
* Spain's overall death toll edged higher, though discrepancies between regional and national data raised questions over the methodology used to produce the tally.
* The French government will mobilise 40 billion euros to support its hardest-hit industries, finance ministry officials said.
* Italy's Rottapharm Biotech is looking for more investors at home to help fund development of a COVID-19 vaccine, its CEO told Reuters.
* Scientists are resuming COVID-19 trials of hydroxychloroquine, as confusion continues to reign about the anti-malarial drug hailed by U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential "game-changer" against the pandemic.
* New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said extended demonstrations in the state after the killing of George Floyd could accelerate the virus' spread, and urged protesters to get tested.
* Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc said it plans to begin human trials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in South Korea later in June.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador defended his government's handling of the coronavirus after official data showed new deaths for a 24-hour period surging to an all-time high.
* China will promote the resumption of the tourism, culture and sports sectors, a top-level meeting chaired by the premier said, state radio reported.
* Rural parts of India have begun to see a surge in infections, as millions of returning migrant workers bring the virus home with them, according to data collected from seven Indian states.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* African countries have secured 90 million test kits for the next six months, a regional disease control body said, urging states and donors to boost the continent's testing capabilities.
* South Africa's mining industry is in talks with the government about allowing foreign miners to return to work.
* Senegal said it would ease a dawn-to-dusk curfew after protesters in Dakar set tyres on fire and threw stones in demonstrations against the restrictions imposed almost three months ago.
* The European Central Bank approved a bigger-than-expected expansion of its stimulus package.
* As oil and gas companies began shutting offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico for the tropical storm season, experts said restarting it will be slower and costlier this year.
* The U.S. unemployment rate, which economists expect hit 19.8% in May, should be able to drop below 10% by the end of 2020, U.S. labor secretary said.
* Saudi Arabia's banks face a tough few quarters as the pandemic and weak oil prices pressure profitability and loan growth, banking executives told Reuters.
* Canada's economy is showing green shoots, with reports on home sales, consumer spending and new job postings trending upwards.
(Compiled by Linda Pasquini and Devika Syamnath; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Anil D'Silva)