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FACTBOX-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

Aug 23 (Reuters) - Pfizer and German partner BioNTech's vaccine is 73.2% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 6 months through 4 years, new data from the companies showed on Tuesday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, click on COVID-19: MacroVitals for a case tracker and summary of news. cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=1592404098

EUROPE

* China is willing to increase direct flights with the Netherlands while it is doing a good job in controlling COVID-19, state media CCTV quoted China's premier Li Keqiang as saying.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Japan may lift requirements for pre-departure COVID-19 tests for travellers entering the country, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

* China's National Health Commission said COVID-19 has contributed to the decline in the country's marriage and birth rates that has accelerated in recent years due to the high costs of education and child-rearing.

AMERICAS

* Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official who became the face of America's pandemic response under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, said on Monday he was stepping down in December after 54 years of public service.

* Mexico will file a complaint to the United Nations over the failure to deliver vaccines against COVID-19 that the government bought under a program backed by the World Health Organization, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Pfizer and BioNTech said on Monday they had sought U.S. authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine booster retooled to target the Omicron variant, and would have doses available to ship immediately after regulatory clearance.

* Swiss pharma company Roche Holding launched a COVID-19 test that detects and differentiates the emerging variant of interest BA.2.75.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* China is facing growing challenges in international services trade as COVID-19 outbreaks curb mobility and softening external demand weighs on firms' operating outlooks, the country's vice commerce minister said.

* The World Trade Organization said that its global goods barometer was stable, pointing to stagnant global trade growth following a pandemic-triggered slowdown.

* Ping An Insurance, China's largest insurer by market value, warned that "substantial uncertainties will remain regarding COVID-19 as well as the domestic and overseas environment in the second half of 2022".

* Japan's factory activity growth slowed to a 19-month low in August as output and new order declines deepened, amid growing pressure from persistent rises in raw material and energy costs and weakening global demand.

(Compiled by Carlo Giovanni Boffa and Subhranshu Sahu; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)

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