U.S. leaders urgently called on Americans to wear masks and threatened even more drastic stay-at-home orders after deaths from the coronavirus set a single-day record, with two people dying every minute, while worldwide deaths crossed 1.5- million.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than half of Spaniards are not willing to get COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as they are available, a survey showed as the government announced a target of 15 million to 20 million vaccinations by mid-2021.
* Britain hopes that millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be delivered by the end of the year but the total will depend on how quickly it can be manufactured.
* Moscow launched an online service for people to book appointments to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
* Poland, Norway, Sweden and Bulgaria announced plans for vaccination programmes as they eye first vaccine deliveries in early 2021.
* Hungary’s government will decide on Monday on whether current restrictions should be extended for the Christmas holidays.
* U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said it was realistic to expect that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of this year.
* U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said he was reacting to gloating by a British television interviewer when he criticized the country’s quick approval of the first coronavirus vaccine.
* President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador asked Mexicans to cancel their year-end holiday plans and curb their movement amid rising case numbers in the country.
* Chile approved a bill that overhauls its immigration rules and the service that oversees them, ahead of an anticipated surge in arrivals from abroad as the pandemic subsides.
* South Korea’s capital, Seoul, announced unprecedented restrictions shuttering most establishments and shops at 9 p.m. and cutting back public transportation operations by 30% in the evenings.
* Philippine police threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the virus during the festive season.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Moderna Inc announced an expanded pact with the Israeli health ministry to supply an additional 4 million doses of its vaccine candidate.
* Two vaccine candidates developed by China’s Clover Biopharmaceuticals triggered strong immune responses in an early-stage human trial and appeared to be safe, the company said.
* Challenges in Pfizer Inc’s supply chain for the raw materials used in its COVID-19 vaccine played a role in its decision to slash its 2020 production target.
* Moderna said it expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its experimental vaccine available globally in the first quarter of 2021.
* Growing prospects for a U.S. economic stimulus package and the roll-out of vaccines boosted demand for riskier assets, taking the safe-haven dollar to a 2-1/2-year low versus the euro and world equity markets towards record highs.
* Japan’s prime minister defended a travel subsidy campaign that some medical groups and experts say has fuelled a third wave of coronavirus cases and said he would finalise the size of an economic stimulus package next week. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.