World News in Brief: December 3

Thursday, 2020-12-03 15:40:25
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People wearing face masks take selfies at the Fair of Santa Llucia in Barcelona, Spain, on Dec. 1, 2020. The Fair of Santa Llucia is held in Barcelona from Nov. 27 to Dec. 23 with capacity restricted to 30% amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Moscow plans to open its COVID-19 vaccination centres on Saturday (December 5) and England's National Health Service is looking at ways to deploy vaccinations in care homes. Meanwhile Africa aims to have 60% of its population vaccinated within the next two to three years.

* China ordered inspections of imported cold chain products to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

* US health experts welcomed British emergency approval of Pfizer's vaccine, while Canadian health authorities should soon complete their regulatory review of the shot.

* Brazil's health regulator said it was open to approving COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use and outlined the requirements for companies looking to do so.

* Republic of Korea has reached a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase its vaccine candidate as it seeks to secure supplies amid a resurgence of outbreaks, local media reported.

* Australia's pharmaceutical regulator said it was on course to review Pfizer's vaccine by January 2021.

* Eli Lilly and Co said the US government had purchased 650,000 additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody drug.

* Republic of Korean drugmaker Daewoong Pharma has sought regulatory approval for Phase II trials of its anti-parasite niclosamide drug to treat COVID-19 patients.

* European shares opened lower after gains spurred by advances in vaccines, and data across Europe underscored the economic damage still being caused by the pandemic.

* As millions of mink are culled in Europe amid fears they could spread the virus, struggling Chinese suppliers are defying calls for their business to be banned and taking advantage of a surge in global prices for the prized fur.

* Laos has conducted 80,188 COVID-19 tests, with 39 positive cases, according to the Lao Ministry of Health on Thursday. Among the people tested, 39 were tested positive and 26 of the patients have been discharged from hospitals after treatment.

* The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Thursday reported 1,061 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's total tally to 435,413. The DOH said that 328 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 399,325. The death toll rose to 8,446 after 10 more patients died from the coronavirus epidemic.

* The mayor of Los Angeles has warned the city was nearing "a devastating tipping point" and ordered residents to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings.

* Brazil's COVID-19 death toll reached 174,515 on Wednesday, after 698 more patients died in the last 24 hours, the country's health ministry said. Meanwhile, tests detected 49,863 new infections, bringing the total tally to 6,436,650. Brazil has the world's second deadliest outbreak, behind only the United States, and the third-highest number of COVID-19 infections.

* The European Union (EU) unveiled on Wednesday a comprehensive plan to improve its partnership with the United States, which the bloc believes has been severely damaged under the current US administration.

* Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Latin America and the Caribbean could plunge by up to 55 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, the United Nations regional economic commission said on Wednesday. Inflows to the region reached US$160.721 billion in 2019, down by 7.8 percent from a year ago, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said in an annual report on Wednesday.

* The Web Summit 2020, which is deemed as the biggest event of "digital transformation" in the Western Hemisphere, started on Wednesday in Portugal, and will take place in online format until Friday with "an estimated audience of 100,000 people" connected.

* Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday announced that the country will invest EUR600 million (around US$725 million) between 2021-2023 in a National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy.

* Greece has extended to Dec. 14 a nationwide lockdown imposed last month.

* Finland has agreed a strategy for vaccinations, planning to give them to everyone, beginning with selected healthcare staff from January.

* Lebanon will not have enough hospital beds to cope with increasing cases, the health minister in the caretaker government warned, saying compliance with a two-week lockdown that ended this week had been patchy.

* Iran's total cases hit 1 million on Thursday.

* IBM sounded the alarm over hackers targeting companies critical to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.