World News in Brief: December 16

Wednesday, 2020-12-16 13:27:04
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Costa Rican authorities on Tuesday authorized the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, the health ministry said in a statement. The United States, Britain, Canada, Bahrain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Panama and Singapore have also approved or authorized emergency use of the shot.

* French pharmaceutical firm Valneva will start the first clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate at four sites in England, Britain's business ministry said on Wednesday. The Phase I and Phase II trials involve 150 volunteers in Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and Newcastle, and will be designed to show whether the vaccine is safe and produces an immune response.

* Canada on Tuesday announced an agreement to receive early deliveries of the Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine amid a surge of new cases that are forcing new health restrictions across the country.

* Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 15, down from 17 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 86,770, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* India recorded 26,355 new coronavirus cases, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday, making it the third straight day that daily infections in the country have stayed below 30,000. India has recorded 9.93 million infections so far, the second highest in the world after the United States, but daily numbers have dipped steadily since hitting a peak of around 97,000 in mid-September.

* US congressional leaders reported substantial progress on Tuesday after two meetings of top Democrats and Republicans to end a months-long standoff on coronavirus relief and finalize a funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

* Brazil has registered 964 additional COVID-19 deaths over the last 24 hours and 42,889 new cases, the nation's health ministry said on Tuesday. The South American country has now registered 182,799 total coronavirus deaths and 6,970,034 total confirmed cases.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 27,728 to 1,379,238, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 952 to 23,427, the tally showed.

* Mexico's health ministry on Tuesday reported 11,228 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 801 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,267,202 cases and 115,099 deaths.

* Republic of Korea reported 1,078 new coronavirus cases, the highest since the start of the pandemic, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Wednesday. The latest number came three days after the daily tally topped 1,000 for the first time since the ROK confirmed its first coronavirus infection in January.

* Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that he hoped there would be some clarity on a Brexit deal by the weekend and that he was more optimistic than a week ago that British and European Union negotiators can reach agreement.

* An earthquake of magnitude 6.2 struck Mindanao in Philippines early on Wednesday, the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences said. The quake had a depth of 10 kilometers, it said.