World News in Brief: December 14

Monday, 2020-12-14 19:02:10
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A medical worker surveys two residents before taking their COVID-19 swab samples in Manila, the Philippines, Dec. 14, 2020. The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported 1,339 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, bringing the total number in the country to 450,733. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Singapore became on Monday (December 14) the first Asian country to approve Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine and said it expects to start receiving shots by the end of the year.

* The Philippines aims to finalise negotiations with Sinovac Biotech this week to acquire 25 million doses of its vaccine for delivery by March.

* The European Union could donate 5% of the COVID-19 vaccines it has secured to poorer nations, an internal document showed, a move that risks undercutting a distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization.

* Spain expects to start vaccinating people against the coronavirus as early as Jan. 4 or 5 if the European Medicines Agency gives the green light to a vaccine on Dec. 29, health minister Salvador Illa said on Monday. Spain plans to vaccinate elderly residents and staff in nursing homes first, then health workers and other vulnerable people.

* Ireland may need to reimpose some restrictions in January, its prime minister said, after health chiefs said cases may be rising again following the reopening of most of the economy.

* Germany is likely to avert another recession despite a second national lockdown due to start on Wednesday, its economy minister said.

* Republic of Korea ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas as it battles its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

* Stocks began the week with robust gains as investors gauged the chance of added US fiscal and monetary stimulus, while the British pound rose as a last-gasp extension to Brexit talks dodged a difficult divorce.

* World Trade Organization negotiators have failed to reach a deal by a year-end deadline to cut subsidies that lead to overfishing, the chairman of the talks said, citing delays linked to COVID-19.

* The European Union is "fully dedicated" to clinching a post-Brexit trade deal before Britain's transition out of the bloc ends on Dec. 31, the European Commission said on Monday.

* Germany expects to receive 11 million doses of BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine by March, the health ministry announced on Monday. In January alone, 3 million to 4 million doses of the vaccine will be provided for inoculations in Germany, a ministry spokesman said.

* The Dutch economy will rebound quickly from its coronavirus slump if vaccines succeed in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic next year, the Dutch central bank said on Monday. The euro zone's fifth-largest economy is expected to grow 2.9% in both 2021 and 2022, the central bank said, if restrictions can be eased over the course of next year and vaccines succeed in eliminating the virus by the end of 2021.

* Peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents will resume in early January as the warring sides take a break after reaching agreement on procedural ground rules for sustaining their dialogue to end the war.