THE European Union said it had secured nearly half of Pfizer’s 2021 global output of COVID-19 shots, while a study found that this vaccine appears able to protect against a key mutation in the new variants.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals here for a case tracker and summary of news.
* Germany has secured 50 million vaccine doses from German biotech firms BioNTech and CureVac on top of EU supplies, a document showed, amid record daily deaths and concerns about a new variant.
* France and Britain approved Moderna’s vaccine, while the Mayor of London declared a major incident in the capital, saying hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed.
* The health chief in Italy’s Lombardy region, one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic in the world, left office after months of criticism.
* Cyprus will introduce a new lockdown from Jan. 10, while Greece extended travel restrictions.
* Denmark will restrict travel from all countries, TV2 reported, and expects its vaccine programme to be fully carried out by late June.
* Beijing closed places of worship and authorities restricted access to a highway to Shijiazhuang, which is battling a new cluster of infections.
* Indonesian clerics deemed Sinovac’s vaccine halal, or permissible under Islam, days before the country is due to start an inoculation programme using the vaccine.
* Malaysia’s prime minister will announce new measures next week to curb the spread of COVID-19, a minister said, as deaths hit a daily record.
* Bhutan reported its first COVID-19 death 10 months after initially detecting the virus.
* U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to add a senior national security official overseeing global health security, restoring a government function cut by the Trump administration ahead of the pandemic.
* Biden will aim to release every available dose of coronavirus vaccine when he takes office, a departure from the Trump administration’s strategy, CNN reported.
* Brazil’s health authority received an application from São Paulo-based medical center Butantan for emergency use in the country of China’s Sinovac vaccine, amid record daily cases.
* Mexico will receive an average of around 400,000 to 500,000 Pfizer vaccines a week until March, Mexico’s president said.
* A top Mexican health official travelled to Buenos Aires to discuss vaccines with Argentina’s president, whose government has begun administering Russia’s Sputnik V to healthcare workers.
* Colombia’s capital will begin strict quarantine measures until Tuesday due to rising infections and suspicions of a new variant.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Interrupted COVID-19 surveillance and control in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, coupled with mass displacements and overcrowding in displacement settings, could have facilitated massive community transmission, a U.N. report said.
* Iran’s Supreme Leader banned the government from importing vaccines from the United States and Britain, as COVID-19 spread further in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.
* Saudi Arabia will lift a ban on international flights from March 31, the state news agency SPA said.
* Europe’s medicines regulator expects drugmaker AstraZeneca to apply for approval of its vaccine next week.
* The European watchdog approved a sixth dose to be extracted from Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine vials, increasing the available shots amid short supplies.
* A global equities rally pushed Japan’s Nikkei and U.S. stock benchmarks to new records on Friday, while safe havens such as Treasuries and gold sold off as investors looked past political unrest in the United States and focused on further stimulus plans.
* The U.S. economy shed jobs for the first time in eight months in December as the country buckled under an onslaught of COVID-19 infections.