World News in Brief: December 2

Wednesday, 2020-12-02 16:24:30
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People put paper lanterns on the water in commemoration of those people dying from COVID-19 in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 30, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Britain on Wednesday (December 2) became the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, jumping ahead of the United States and Europe after its regulator cleared a shot developed by Pfizer for emergency use in record time. A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.

* United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for global solidarity and shared responsibility to overcome not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also AIDS.

* Securing a vaccine for all European countries will be a top priority for Portugal when it takes over the presidency of the European Union next January, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

* India may not need to vaccinate all of its 1.3 billion people if it manages to inoculate a critical mass and break the transmission of the coronavirus, government officials said.

* Johnson & Johnson said health regulators in Europe and Canada had started a real-time review of its vaccine candidate after preliminary results showed that the shot triggered the production of antibodies and immune cells.

* Indigenous people, health workers and those aged 75 years and older will be at the front of the line to be vaccinated, Brazil's Health Ministry said as it unveiled a four-stage preliminary plan for national immunization.

* Top US health officials announced plans to start vaccinating Americans by mid-December, while the UK parliament approved regional restrictions and the United Nations urged all countries to designate seafarers as key workers against the backdrop of travel restrictions.

* Mexico's government was due to sign a contract on Wednesday with pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the delivery of its vaccine.

* Japan aims to allow "large-scale" numbers of overseas visitors to attend next year's Tokyo Olympics without mandatory vaccinations or quarantine, provided they submit negative test results and download tracking apps, the Nikkei business daily reported.

* Serum Institute of India, which has partnered with AstraZeneca to manufacture its vaccine, will continue to test a two full dose regimen of the shot despite it showing a lower success rate than a half and full dose regimen in pivotal trials.

* Asian shares shed early gains from a strong Wall Street lead on Wednesday, as some investors booked profits on a stellar run to record highs, but hope for additional US economic stimulus and a vaccine kept market sentiment well supported.

* Mainland China reported nine new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 1, down from 12 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday. The National Health Commission, in a statement, said seven of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. Two new local cases were reported in the Inner Mongolia region, the commission said. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 86,551, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* Brazil reported 50,909 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily case number since early September, and 697 new deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. The South American country has now registered 6,386,787 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 173,817, according to ministry data, in the world's third worst outbreak outside the United States and India.

* India's COVID-19 tally reached 9,499,413 on Wednesday as 36,604 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry. According to the data, the death toll mounted to 138,122 as 501 COVID-19 patients died since Tuesday morning.

* Mexico's health ministry on Tuesday reported 8,819 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 825 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,122,362 cases and 106,765 deaths. The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

* The Department of Health of the Philippines on Wednesday reported 1,438 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection, bringing the total number in the country to 434,357. The DOH said 232 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 399,005. The death toll climbed to 8,436 after 18 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 17,270 to 1,084,743, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 487 to 17,123.

* France said the number of people hospitalised for COVID-19 infections fell by more than 600 to go below the 28,000 threshold for the first time since Nov. 4.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon shorten the length of self-quarantine recommended to 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test, from the current 14-day period.

* The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) deemed it necessary to have a renewed agreement between the United States and Russia on the limitation of nuclear warheads, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

* United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday reiterated the world body's position of two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

* The Bank of Japan is ready to extend beyond March a range of steps aimed at easing corporate funding strains, suggesting a decision could come as early as this month.

* Australia's economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter from a recession as consumer spending surged, though the country's top central banker signalled monetary policy will stay accommodative for a while.

* Turkey's daily COVID-19 death toll hit a record high, as Turks braced for new restrictive measures.

Xinhua, Reuters