U.S. President Joe Biden planned to revamp the nation’s fight against its worst public health crisis in more than a century.
At the same time, Pfizer faced criticism and potential legal action over its surprise move to temporarily delay COVID-19 vaccine shipments to European countries.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* British PM Boris Johnson said Wednesday’s record deaths are “appalling” and the death toll is likely to keep rising in the next few weeks.
* The Index.hu website reported that Hungary’s drug regulator gave the green light to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, while Argentina approved the shot for use in people over 60.
* The Netherlands proposed the first nationwide curfew since World War Two and a ban on flights from South Africa and Britain.
* Daily cases in Portugal rose 40% on Wednesday from the day before to a record 14,647, with the national health system on the verge of collapse.
* Germany’s most populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia will delay the opening of new vaccination centres to Feb. 8 due to the Pfizer vaccine delay.
* Madrid began mass testing hundreds of young people at universities to detect asymptomatic carriers in one of the groups with the highest rates of transmission.
* Beijing said it will investigate all individuals who entered the capital from abroad from Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new cases in more than three weeks.
* Amazon.com Inc offered to help with U.S. efforts involving the vaccine, according to a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, seen by Reuters.
* Chile’s health regulator approved the emergency roll-out of the CoronaVac vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Dubai’s health authority ordered hospitals to cancel non-essential surgery for the next month after a surge in cases in the Middle East’s tourism and business hub.
* Turkey has vaccinated more than 1 million people in the first week of its nationwide rollout.
* The World Health Organization plans to approve several vaccines from Western and Chinese manufacturers in the coming weeks and months, an internal document seen by Reuters shows.
* Russia filed for registration of the Sputnik V vaccine in the European Union and expects it to be reviewed in February.
* The new COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa defeats plasma treatment and may reduce vaccine efficacy, scientists said.
* Global equity benchmarks rose to new record highs as investors weighed the likelihood of further U.S. stimulus under the new Biden administration against worsening outbreaks in China and the United States.
* A surge in the bond market’s best gauge of how much inflation investors expect in the years ahead could be underestimating how long the economic shock from the pandemic will last.