Roundup on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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A roundup of the main stories regarding the worldwide coronavirus pandemic:

EUROPE

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered millions more people to live under the strictest COVID-19 restrictions from Thursday to counter a new variant of the virus that is spreading at a “sheer pace” across the country.
  • Russia reported 27,747 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 6,566 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 3,159,297 since the pandemic began. Authorities reported 593 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 57,019.
  • More than 500,000 people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will have their second dose delayed for up to 12 weeks as the NHS rethinks the rollout that is aimed at halting the surging death toll in the UK, the Guardian reported.
  • A new strain of COVID-19 that reached Ireland from the United Kingdom is spreading faster than the country’s most pessimistic forecasts, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.
A nurse administrates the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during the vaccinations against Covid for doctors, nurses, and health workers at the Molinette hospital in Turin, Italy. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

AMERICAS

  • U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell dealt a likely death blow to President Donald Trump’s bid to boost coronavirus aid to Americans, declining to schedule a swift Senate vote on a bill to raise relief checks to $2,000 from $600.
  • Russia’s sovereign fund, Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), agreed to supply Bolivia with enough of its two-dose Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to vaccinate 2.6 million people, RDIF said on Wednesday, marking the South American nation’s first major vaccine deal. RDIF said the agreement would make it possible for more than 20% of Bolivia’s population to access the vaccine and supply would be facilitated by the Russian fund’s international partners in India, China, South Korea and other countries. Bolivia’s population is 11.35 million and 20% would be 2.27 million people.
  • A nurse in California tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week after receiving Pfizer Inc’s vaccine, an ABC News affiliate reported.
  • The coronavirus variant originally discovered in Britain has been detected in California, a day after the first known U.S. case was documented in Colorado.
  • The leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he foresees America achieving enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain “some semblance of normality” by autumn 2021.
  • Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said officials were investigating a case of suspected abuse of power by a family to obtain shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Brazilian syringe and needle makers warned that the country’s coronavirus vaccination program was at risk after the government set auction prices too low and failed to draw bids for enough syringes to meet its requirements.
  • Only about 2.6 million Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine going into the last day of December, putting the United States far short of the government’s target to vaccinate 20 million people this month.About 14 million doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines have been distributed to states so far, federal officials told reporters on Wednesday, shy of its goal to ship 20 million doses this month.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was approved for use in El Salvador.
A man wearing a mask walks outside a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand. EPA-EFE/DIEGO AZUBEL

ASIA-PACIFIC

  • Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm.
  • China reported 25 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 30, up from 24 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Thursday. The National Health Commission said in a statement that 16 of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas
  • Thailand confirmed 194 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the majority of which were locally transmitted, the government’s COVID-19 task-force said.The new infections include 13 imported cases. Thailand has confirmed a total of 6,884 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths since first detecting the virus in late January. 
  • China approved its first COVID-19 vaccine for general public use on Thursday, a shot developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
  • A province of islands in the southern Philippines will seal itself off for an initial two weeks from Monday to keep out a new COVID-19 variant found in nearby Malaysia.
  • New coronavirus infections in Tokyo hit more than 1,000 cases for the first time on Thursday, Kyodo news agency reported, citing the city’s governor Yuriko Koike, raising worries about a possible explosion in COVID-19 cases
Healthcare worker holding picture of their colleague who died from Covid-19 as they protest against the government in front of the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, in Istanbul, Turkey. A group of doctors gathered to draw attention to the deaths caused by Covid-19 and the increasing number of patients, and to give respect to the memory of the citizens and healthcare workers who died during the pandemic. According to Turkey Medical Association, 310 health workers died as a result of covid-19. EPA-EFE/SEDAT SUNA

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • South Africa reported a record 17,710 daily increase in coronavirus infections on Wednesday, surpassing the previous high of about 14,500 set several days ago.
  • Zimbabwe has postponed the re-opening of schools planned for next week due to a surge in coronavirus infections and a tropical storm sweeping through the region.
  • Russia has signed a contract with Algeria to supply it with the Sputnik V vaccine, the RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday.The RDIF statement did not say how many doses had been agreed. Algeria has said it plans to begin its vaccination campaign in January.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • A vaccine developed by a unit of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is 79.34% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 and the company has filed an application for regulatory approval in China for its general public use.
  • A new variant of the novel coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study by Public Health England.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

  • Asian shares edged up on Thursday and were set to end a tumultuous 2020 at record highs, while growing investor hopes for a global economic recovery caused the dollar to fall further against most major currencies.

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