* The European Medicines Agency aims to decide in early October whether to endorse a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be given half a year after the initial two-shot course, saying breakthrough infections added urgency to its review.
* Portugal will lift almost all remaining restrictions, allowing full occupancy in restaurants and cultural venues from Octoner 1, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.
* Sweden is looking into giving a third dose vaccine to a larger part of the population over fears the protective effect of the two shots most have had could start to wane, the country's public health agency said.
* Russia on Thursday reported 820 coronavirus-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, matching an all-time high set on August 26. Authorities warned cases were again rising rapidly.
* Leaders of the largest United States aerospace and defence companies are united in their effort to comply with the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine mandate for US workers and await further government guidance, their industry group said in a statement.
* Panama is weeks away from achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 after vaccinating more than half its population of 4.2 million people, President Laurentino Cortizo said at the UN General Assembly.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Yemen received its third batch of vaccines through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing scheme, the health ministry said.
* The African Union's top health official called Britain's lack of recognition for coronavirus vaccines administered in Africa regrettable, saying it sends a confusing public health message.
* Novavax and its partner Serum Institute of India have applied to the World Health Organization for an emergency-use listing of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine, potentially clearing the way for the shot to ship to many poorer countries.
* French vaccine maker Valneva is expanding trials of a vaccine candidate called VLA2001, and remains in talks with the European Commission over a potential contract, the company said.
* Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel thinks the pandemic could be over in a year as increased vaccine production ensures global supplies, he told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung.
* A US advisory panel on Thursday recommended a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and some adults with underlying medical conditions.
Australian Associated Press