Vaccines – The simple motion entitled "Incompetence and lack of commitment kill. Vlad Voiculescu, a danger to the health and life of Romanians", submitted to the Chamber of Deputies by the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Party-PSD, against the health minister will be debated on Monday in Bucharest and voted two days later. The National Liberal Party will not vote on the motion filed against Vlad Voiculescu (a member of USR-PLUS Alliance, in the governing coalition), announced the Liberal leader Ludovic Orban. Meanwhile, the anti-COVID vaccination campaign continues in Romania. According to the Romanian authorities Romania is ranked 6th in a classification of European countries in terms of the total number of vaccine doses administered. More than one million doses of vaccine have been given to date, most of them from Pfizer/BioNTech company, as well as from Moderna and AstraZeneca. Latest data from the Strategic Communication Group show that over 1,900 new cases SARS-CoV-2 infection have been reported in the past 24 hours. The death toll exceeded 19,400, and about 960 people are in ICUs. As of Saturday, people coming to Romania from countries in the yellow zone, i.e. where the infection rate is higher than in Romania, must comply with new rules.
Budget – In Romania, the budget bill, currently under public debate, is to be adopted in the coming days. The Prime Minister Florin Cîţu, who made a series of clarifications on the topic, recalled that the government has proposed 4 reforms related to salaries, pensions, education and fiscal administration. According to the PM, the salary expenses for 2021 have been capped at the level of those from 2020, and salaries in the public sector will be established, this year, when the law on unitary salary is modified. Florin Cîţu also said that he wanted performance from the government ministers and announced that he would make a mid-year assessment of the budget execution and this check the ministers’ activity. The draft budget is based on a deficit of 7.16% of the GDP and an economic growth rate of 4.3%. The calculations are based on investments of 5.5% of the GDP, on 13% higher revenues than last year and also rising expenses by only 5%.
Acquittal – In the US, the Senate has acquitted the former US President Donald Trump in second impeachment trial on charge of inciting Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 5 people died in the riots. Trump is the first president in the history of the United States to go through two impeachment trials. The big stake in the second trial was the former president's political future - if he had been convicted, he would have been barred from holding federal office ever again. Now he might try to get a new term in office in 2024. 57 senators voted against Trump - all the 50 Democrats and 7 Republicans – but the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. After his acquittal, Donald Trump issued a statement saying the trial was "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country" and added that "his patriotic movement" was just beginning. President Joe Biden said that Donald Trump's acquittal shows that democracy is fragile.
Tennis – The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep (2 WTA), qualified today in Melbourne, to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, where she will take on Serena Williams (11 WTA). In the eighth finals, Simona Halep defeated the Polish player Iga Swiatek (17 WTA), in three sets, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, while Serena Williams won, also in three sets, 6-4, 2 -6, 6-4, against the Belarusian player Arina Sabalenka (7 WTA). In the eighth finals of the men's doubles tournament, the Romanian-Brazilian pair Horia Tecău / Marcelo Melo will play against the pair Ivan Dodig (Croatia) / Filip Polasek (Slovakia).
Brussels – The European Union, accused of slow management of the coronavirus pandemic, will speed up the procedure for authorizing improved versions of the vaccines against new strains of the virus, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety announced today. Stella Kyriakides told the German daily Augsburger Allgemeine that the procedure had been discussed with the European Medicines Agency and it was decided that, from now on, a vaccine, which is improved by a manufacturer to fight new strains based on an existing and certified vaccine, no longer needs to go through all the authorization stages. The health commissioner also said the EU had managed to secure a supply of 700 million doses of vaccine by the end of the third quarter of this year.
Handball – CSM Bucharest defeated, on home ground, the Greek team AEK Athens HC, with the score of 28-23, in the first round of the eighth finals of the men's handball competition EHF European Cup. The second round will take place on February 21 in Athens. Also on Sunday, HC Dunărea Brăila (southeast) defeated the French team Fleury Loiret Handball, 31-25, in Orleans, in Group D of the women's handball competition EHF European League. Siofok KC leads in the ranking, with 9 points, followed by Kuban - 6 points, Dunărea Brăila - 5 points, Fleury Loiret Handball - 0 points. To qualify to the quarterfinals, Dunărea Brăila needs a victory with Kuban, in the last round, on February 20, in Brăila. In the first round, the score was equal, 25 all. (tr. L. Simion)