Pope Francis in his Christmas message said political and business leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to take priority over making Covid 19 vaccines available to all, condemning nationalism and “the virus of radical individualism”.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
More than 79.59 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,747,803 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of coronavirus click here.
* More than 4,500 lorries, among a huge backlog of trucks stranded for days in the British port of Dover, crossed the Channel on Friday after extra troops were deployed to step up coronavirus testing, a minister said.
* Russia on Saturday approved its main COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, for use by people over the age of 60, Russian news agencies cited the health ministry as saying.
The total number of cases of coronavirus infections in Russia crossed the 3 million mark for the first time on Saturday after officials recorded 29,258 new cases in the preceding 24 hours and 567 deaths.
* Some Russians took to social media to voice frustration after 300,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine were supplied to Argentina, arguing that more shots should be made available at home.
* France recorded its first case of the new variant of coronavirus, as the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 mounted in the country, increasing concerns of a new wave of the virus hitting the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.
* All many people want for Christmas this year is a simple hug, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said in her annual festive message, saying it would be hard for those who lost loved ones to COVID-19 pandemic or were separated by curbs on social mixing.
* U.S. states, facing a backlog in administering coronavirus vaccines, are asking medical and nursing students, and even firefighters, to help give the shots and free up healthcare workers battling a raging pandemic at overcrowded hospitals.
* The U.S. government will require all airline passengers arriving from Britain to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure starting Monday amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant that may be more transmissible.
* Families across Mexico scaled down Christmas festivities to avoid the spread of coronavirus, while others spent the holiday alone after having lost loved ones to the pandemic that has killed more than 120,000 in Mexico this year.
* South Korea posted its second-highest daily number of coronavirus cases on Saturday as outbreaks at a prison, nursing homes and churches continued to grow, prompting authorities to plead for a halt to all year-end gatherings.
* Coronavirus infections in Tokyo hit a record daily high of 949 cases on Saturday as Japan heads into the New Year holiday, which normally sees people stream from the capital into the provinces.
* Sydney residents were urged not to head to the shops for Boxing Day bargains, while those in some northern beach suburbs prepared to re-enter a strict lockdown for three days from Sunday as the Australian city seeks to stamp out a coronavirus outbreak.
* China’s capital Beijing on Thursday issued a series of coronavirus-related advisories ahead of the peak travel season from New Year’s Day to the Chinese Lunar New Year in February, but it stopped short of imposing draconian restrictions.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Matron Annamarie Odendaal has cancelled all staff holiday on the COVID-19 ward at the private Arwyp Medical Centre in Johannesburg as a second wave of the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm South Africa’s health system.
* The CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd SVA.O showed efficacy between 50% and 90% in Brazilian trials, Sao Paulo’s state health secretary said, and its Brazilian producer said full trial results will be released by Jan. 7.
* Moderna Inc expects that the immunity induced by its COVID-19 vaccine would be protective against the coronavirus variants reported in Britain.
* Brazilian researchers said the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech is more than 50% effective based on preliminary data, but withheld full results of their late-stage trial again at Sinovac’s request.
* Millions of Americans’ jobless benefits expired on Saturday after President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion coronavirus pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.