Global coronavirus cases surpassed 100 million as infections rise in Europe and Americas and the Asia-Pacific region scrambles to contain fresh outbreaks, while governments hurry to procure adequate vaccine supplies.
* The daily number of new coronavirus infections in France stayed above 20,000 on average for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, while hospitalisations reached an eight-week high of 27,041.
* Portugal’s government was urged to transfer COVID-19 patients abroad as deaths hit a record high and the oxygen supply system of a large hospital near Lisbon partly failed from overuse.
* Serbia plans to spend about 2.5 billion euros ($3.04 billion) in loans and subsidies to businesses and payments to pensioners and other citizens to help them cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus.
* China recorded its lowest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in more than two weeks, with the country administering about 22.8 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.
* South Korean authorities were scrambling to contain coronavirus outbreaks centred around Christian schools as the country reported a jump in infections.
* Australia recorded a 10th straight day of no new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, allowing its most populous state of New South Wales to relax restrictions.
* COVID-19 vaccination programmes in China and India will stretch until late 2022 due to the sheer size of their population, and more than 85 poor countries will not have widespread access to vaccines before 2023, a study showed.
* The Biden administration is “actively looking” at expanding mandatory COVID-19 testing to travelers on U.S. domestic flights, a senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said.
* The U.S. Small Business Administration said it had approved 400,000 more pandemic relief loans worth $35 billion and was trying to fix issues operational snags with the program raised by lenders.
* Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro approved a group of private sector firms to buy 33 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca Plc, as the country approached a total caseload of nine million.
* Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine should be authorized within days.
* A volunteer in the local Peruvian trial of a coronavirus vaccine produced by China’s Sinopharm Group Co Ltd has died from COVID-19-related pneumonia.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The Serum Institute of India will supply Saudi Arabia with 3 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses priced at $5.25 each in about a week on behalf of the British drugmaker.
* The World Health Organization issued recommendations on the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and said it was working with the company to accelerate its approval of the shot for WHO emergency use listing.
* Asian equities slipped as investors looked to the Federal Reserve’s guidance on its monetary policy, while futures for U.S. tech shares jumped after strong earnings from Microsoft.
* Irish consumer sentiment dropped sharply in January as the country went from having the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the European Union before Christmas to one of the highest in the new year, a survey has found.
* There is a high risk of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases derailing the world economy this year, according to a firm majority of economists in a Reuters poll, who forecast global GDP would reach pre-pandemic levels within two years.