Mexico’s death toll from COVID-19 surpassed India to be the third highest in the world, while the United States detected its first two cases in South Carolina of the coronavirus variant originating in South Africa.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine should only be given to people aged between 18 and 64, Germany’s vaccine committee recommended.
* Denmark will extend its current coronavirus restrictions by three weeks in order to curb the spread of a more contagious coronavirus variant first registered in Britain.
* Portugal extended a nationwide lockdown until mid-February and announced curbs on international travel.
* A shortage of COVID-19 vaccines has forced Paris and two other regions that together account for a third of the French population to postpone giving out some first doses.
* China reported its lowest daily increase in new COVID-19 cases in three weeks, official data showed, as authorities imposed robust curbs to contain the outbreak.
* The Philippines will relax travel curbs on foreigners coming from more than 30 countries that have detected cases of the more contagious British variant of the coronavirus starting from next month.
* The Serum Institute of India has sought the drug regulator’s permission to conduct a small domestic trial of the Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine that was found to be 89.3% effective in a UK trial, its CEO told Reuters on Friday.
* New Zealand said its finances were in better shape than expected, as deficit and debt figures came in lower than it forecast last year.
* A potent coronavirus variant originating in South Africa and found to be partly resistant to current vaccines and antibody treatments has been detected for the first time in the United States in two South Carolina patients.
* New York state’s health department may have undercounted the COVID-19 death toll among state nursing home residents by as much as 50%, a report released by the state attorney general’s office showed.
* The Pentagon is evaluating a request from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide help in administering COVID-19 vaccines.
* Brazil’s total confirmed cases surpassed nine million, while researchers in southern Brazil said they discovered patients infected with two different strains of the new coronavirus simultaneously.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Morocco started a national coronavirus vaccination campaign after receiving vaccine shipments from AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.
* The African Union secured another 400 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in a push to immunize 60% of the continent’s population over a three-year period.
* Novavax Inc said its coronavirus vaccine was 89.3% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a trial conducted in the United Kingdom and was nearly as effective in protecting against the more highly contagious variant first discovered in the UK, according to a preliminary analysis.
* Asian stock markets recovered on Friday but are headed for their steepest weekly loss in months, as a liquidity squeeze in China and a Wall Street retail-trading frenzy has unnerved investors.
* Japanese household spending likely fell in December from a year earlier, a Reuters poll showed, the first such fall in three months and a worrying sign that a resurgence in coronavirus cases could delay an economic recovery.
* Global debt likely reached 98% of economic output at end-2020 as governments poured in nearly $14 trillion in fiscal support, the IMF said, while urging that fiscal support stay in place until recovery is firmly underway.