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Vials with a sticker reading, COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020.  - Sputnik International

Live Updates: US Approves Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine, President Trump Says

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The total number of infected is close to 75 million worldwide, while the global death toll is over 1.6 million, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University. The outbreaks are forcing nations to reimpose quarantines and prepare for mass vaccinations, with Russia and the UK launching vaccination campaigns this month.

At the moment, the most affected nations in the world are the United States (over 17 million cases, 310,000 deaths), India (9.95 million infections, more than 144,000 fatalities), and Brazil (over 7 million cases, and a death toll of almost 185,000).

The US is showing a high daily increase, with over 200,000 new infections and more than 3,000 deaths for the past few days.

Follow Sputnik's Live Feed to Find Out More!

Table of contents
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03:34 GMT 19.12.2020
Colombia Reaches Agreements to Buy 40Mln COVID-19 Vaccine Doses – President Duque

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) –  Colombia has signed agreements with the Pfizer and AstraZeneca companies to buy 10 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine from each of them, as well as will get 20 million more doses via the COVAX mechanism, President Ivan Duque said.

"We have reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to buy 10 million doses and the AstraZeneca firm to purchase 10 million doses. 20 million doses will also be purchased via the COVAX platform," Duque said on late Friday.

The president has not specified the dates of the vaccines' deliveries but stressed that the vaccination campaign will be launched in the first weeks of 2021.

02:38 GMT 19.12.2020
Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine Against Coronavirus Has No Impact on Fertility – Developer

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine against COVID-19 has no negative impact on fertility, which has been confirmed by animal tests, the head of the Gamaleya research center, which developed the original vaccine, told Sputnik.

"Of course, the vaccine's impact on fertility has been studied via animal tests: using mice and rabbits. There is no negative impact [on fertility]," Alexander Gintsburg said.

01:35 GMT 19.12.2020
US Authorizes Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine for Emergency Use
Coronavirus: On November 16, 2020, US biotech company Moderna announced a vaccine against COVID-19 that is 94.5% effective. Montreal, November 16, 2020 - Sputnik International
US Authorises Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine for Emergency Use
22:14 GMT 18.12.2020
Italy Imposes Lockdown for Holiday Period, Max 2 Guests Allowed Before Curfew – Conte

GENOA (Sputnik) – Italy has imposed a lockdown for almost the whole holiday period, with the exception of a few days, and will allow a maximum of two guests for Christmas and New Year celebration, given they should anyways return to their homes before the curfew at 10 p.m. (21:00 GMT), Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced at a press conference late on Friday after the meeting with the Council of Ministers.

“We have just adopted a decree-law with the Council of Ministers ... We should consider red zone from December 24 until January 6, any movement between the regions will be prohibited. In order to prevent further increase in the number of contagions, the whole national territory will be the red zone on public holidays and days preceding them. In particular, these will be December 24, 25, 26 and 27, as well as December 1 and January 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6,” Conte said, summing up the measures that have been adopted by the new decree.

“Red zone means the following measures: one can exit from his house only out of proven work reasons, necessity, and health reasons,” the prime minister explained.

Such reason must be motivated by a document, according to Conte.

However, it will be possible to receive at a proper house maximum of two persons, who do not live there from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. These two persons can also take with themselves a child under 14 years old. This "special rule" was designed to allow "minimum socialization" for celebrations, the premier noted.

22:11 GMT 18.12.2020
Trudeau Says Canada to Receive Additional 500K Pfizer Vaccine Doses in January

TORONTO, (Sputnik) - Canada will receive additional 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine during the month of January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday.

"In January, we will be getting 125,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine per week for a total of about 500,000 doses for the month," Trudeau said.

January’s shipments are in addition to 417,000 early scheduled vaccine doses expected to be delivered in December, including 200,000 from Pfizer and 168,000 from Moderna, he also said.

Trudeau said he is confident that Canada will vaccinate up to three million of its citizens "in first months of 2021."

21:10 GMT 18.12.2020
Trump Speaks With Macron to Wish Him Speedy Recovery - White House

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump in a recent telephone call with France's President Emmanuel Macron wished him a speedy recovery after the French leader was infected with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement on Friday.

"Yesterday, President Donald Trump spoke with President Emmanuel Macron of France. President Trump wished President Macron a speedy recovery and quick return to his full duties," Deere said via Twitter.

20:36 GMT 18.12.2020
Russian Ambassador to Ankara to Meet Turkish Health Minister Over Sputnik V Procurement

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Ambassador in Turkey Alexey Yerkhov said on Friday that he is set to meet Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to ascertain whether Ankara intends to procure Russia-developed Sputnik V vaccine.

"I am planning to meet with the Minister of Health one of these days. We will dot all the letters. And I really hope that following this meeting it will be possible to share more specific information," Yerkhov said in an appearance on Russian state broadcaster Rossiya 24.

There have been conflicting media reports about Ankara’s plans regarding the Sputnik V vaccine, with some publications saying officials have ruled out procuring. Yerekhov said that upon reaching out to health authorities, he was assured that Turkish media outlets had taken statements out of context.

Turkey has reached an agreement with China to secure 50 million doses of the Sinovac which is currently under development.

20:31 GMT 18.12.2020
Sweden Recommends Masks as Infections Surge

MURMANSK (Sputnik) - The Swedish public health agency has recommended that commuters wear face masks on public transport, the prime minister said Friday, after he admitted that coronavirus was spreading across the country at a worrying pace.

"The situation continues to be very serious. The infection is spreading fast, putting a lot of strain on the healthcare system. Health workers and care home employees are working around the clock," Stefan Lofven said at a news conference.

Sweden has long ignored the World Health Organization's advice to mandate the use of facial coverings in public spaces and refused to follow EU countries in imposing a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus.

On Friday, the Nordic country recorded 100 virus-related deaths, taking the toll to 7,993, with more than 367,000 people catching the virus since the outbreak began.

Starting December 24, the maximum number of people allowed to share a table in a restaurant will be limited to four. Pubs will be banned from selling alcohol after 8 p.m. Stores, shopping malls and gyms will have to take measures to avoid crowding. Saunas, libraries and museums will close until January 24.

Sweden has also banned entry to non-EU nationals until March 31. Waivers will be given to citizens of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City, as well as to health care workers, diplomats, and seasonal workers.

Separately, Switzerland announced Friday that Swedish travelers will be put into a 10-day quarantine starting Saturday. At the same time, it removed Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Jordan, North Macedonia, and several Austrian and Italian regions from its list of high-risk zones.

20:29 GMT 18.12.2020
Greece Records Over 915 COVID-19 Cases, Almost 100 Fatalities Over 24-Hour Period

ATHENS (Sputnik) - Greece has recorded 916 new cases of coronavirus and 96 related deaths over the past 24 hours despite the nationwide lockdown, the Hellenic National Public Health Organization said on Friday.

The overall infection tally has grown to 129,584 cases, while the total COVID-19 death toll rose to 4,044.

As many as 527 people are connected to the ventilators in intensive care wards, while 800 patients have been discharged, according to the health authority.

18:45 GMT 18.12.2020
French COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 60,000

PARIS (Sputnik) - The number of coronavirus-related deaths in France rose past 60,000 on Friday, the public health agency said, after 264 more patients died in hospitals in the past day.

The death toll now stands at 60,229. Another 15,674 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, according to figures shared by Sante Publique.

18:18 GMT 18.12.2020
House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi Gets COVID-19 Vaccine
18:00 GMT 18.12.2020
State of Mexico Governor Says State Passing to Highest Level Red Alert for COVID-19
17:42 GMT 18.12.2020
Austria to Reopen Ski Lifts Despite Lockdown Being Introduced on December 26
17:41 GMT 18.12.2020
Americas Account for Three Quarters of World's New COVID-19 Cases, WHO Reports

MOSCOW, (Sputnik) - The Americas account for more than three quarters of the world’s new coronavirus cases as the region struggles to contain the first wave of the pandemic, WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director Mike Ryan said Friday.

"Over three quarters of the cases we're seeing globally now are occurring in the Americas. It's a very, very high and intense period there and it really does come back to being able to implement all of the measures that are needed," he told reporters.

The UN health agency has been monitoring "worrying increases" in Mexico, Brazil and the United States, Ryan said.

"In fact, Mexico, like other countries in North America, never really exited its first surge or first wave. It managed to get some degree of control and the disease has surged again in many places. We've seen that same phenomenon happen in other countries like Brazil, the United States," he explained.

16:17 GMT 18.12.2020
French President Macron Says He Feels Fine During Twitter Live Session
15:56 GMT 18.12.2020
Russia, Germany Discuss Joint Production of Covid Vaccines in EU, Russian Health Ministry Confirms

MOSCOW, (Sputnik) - Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko and his German counterpart Jens Spahn discussed the possibility of a joint production of Covid-19 vaccines, the Russian Health Ministry said Friday.

"Upon the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko had a phone conversation with German Health Minister Jens Spahn about setting up joint production of vaccines against Covid-19 in Europe," the ministry said in a statement.

Spahn said he was ready to cooperate with Russia in terms of involving German companies in the production of Russian vaccines.

The two ministers agreed that experts from both countries would soon discuss this in more detail.

15:55 GMT 18.12.2020
Media Tycoon Rupert Murdoch Receives COVID-19 Vaccine
15:50 GMT 18.12.2020
One in Five Prisoners in US Test Positive for Coronavirus, Report Says

WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) - One in five jailed prisoners in the United States - at least 275,000 men and women - in both federal and state penitentiaries have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and more than 1,700 have died, a study by the Marshall Project announced on Friday.

"One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times as high as the general population. In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected," the Marshall Project report said.

The report was compiled in collaboration with the Associated Press, the Marshall Project said.

The rate of infection in the US prison system is more than four times higher than that among the general population, the report also said.

"New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August," the report added.

Some 5,100 prisoners got infected in jails in Kansas, the third-highest rate for any state in the United States, behind only South Dakota and Arkansas, according to the report.

15:11 GMT 18.12.2020
Sweden to Shut Down Non-Essential Public Sector Workplaces for One Month, PM Lofven Says
15:11 GMT 18.12.2020
US GOP Sen. McConnell Confirms COVID-19 Relief Plan is ‘Close at Hand’
13:24 GMT 18.12.2020
US Vice President, Second Lady Get COVID-19 Vaccination in Public
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the vice presidential debate Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City - Sputnik International
US Vice President, Second Lady Get COVID-19 Vaccination in Public
13:21 GMT 18.12.2020
Prime Minister of Slovakia Matovic Tests Positive for COVID-19 – Reports
13:01 GMT 18.12.2020
Chinese President Wishes France's Macron Speedy Recovery From COVID-19

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Chinese President Xi Jinping has wished his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, a speedy recovery from the COVID-19 virus, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"On 18 December, Chinese President Xi Jinping called French President Emmanuel Macron and expressed solicitude over Macron testing positive for COVID-19, wished Macron a speedy recovery and extended firm support for the French government and the French people in their battle against COVID-19, on behalf of the Chinese government and Chinese people", an official statement read.

12:58 GMT 18.12.2020
Russia's EpiVacCorona Vaccine to Remain Effective Despite Coronavirus Mutations - Watchdog

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The developers of Russia's EpiVacCorona vaccine against COVID-19 took cognisance of possible mutations of the virus, this is why the vaccine will not be outdated, Russian public health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, told Sputnik on Friday.

"According to the available data and study results, the new coronavirus accumulates mutations quite slowly, most of the genomes that we are aware of have only a few isolated differences", the watchdog said in a statement.

Conservative elements of the genome were used to develop the EpiVacCorona vaccine, therefore it will retain efficacy even in case of natural mutations, Rospotrebnadzor specified.

Most of the volunteers receiving EpiVacCorona form both antibodies and cellular immunity, according to the watchdog.

12:52 GMT 18.12.2020
Serbia to Receive Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Next Week - Health Minister

BELGRADE (Sputnik) Serbia will receive the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by the US’ Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech pharmaceutical companies early next week, Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar said on Friday.

"The first doses of Pfizer's vaccine will be delivered to Serbia on Monday or Tuesday. The first batch will contain a little less than 5,000 doses for residents of retirement houses", Loncar said, as cited by the Serbian state news agency Tanjug.

12:47 GMT 18.12.2020
Spain's Supreme Court Rejects Claims of COVID-19 Mismanagement Against Gov't
12:43 GMT 18.12.2020
US Approves Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine, President Trump Says
12:37 GMT 18.12.2020
Half of UK Residents Plan to Form 'Christmas Bubble' Amid Weaking of Lockdown Rules – ONS
12:17 GMT 18.12.2020
PM Johnson Hopes to Avoid National Lockdown in UK

"Obviously we're hoping very much that we'll be able to avoid anything like that", Johnson told reporters. "But the reality is that the rates of infection have increased very much in the last few weeks".

12:03 GMT 18.12.2020
ONS Estimates Around 567,300 People Had Coronavirus in England Last Week
11:24 GMT 18.12.2020
Spain to Start Mass Vaccination on 27 December

"The vaccination in Spain will begin on Sunday, 27 December ", Illa said at a press conference, adding that doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered to the country on 26 December.

10:53 GMT 18.12.2020
Slovakia Confirms Almost 4,000 New COVID-19 Cases
10:41 GMT 18.12.2020
Legendary Musician Paul McCartney Says He 'Feels Fine' After Getting Coronavirus Vaccine
Paul McCartney greets the crowd as he arrives onstage for his performance on day 2 of the 2016 Desert Trip music festival at Empire Polo Field on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Indio, Calif - Sputnik International
Legendary Musician Paul McCartney Says He 'Feels Fine' After Getting Coronavirus Vaccine
10:13 GMT 18.12.2020
Macron Self-Isolating in Versailles, First Lady Staying in Elysee Palace - Reports
Visitors walking under The Arch of Versailles, a work of art by Korean artist Lee Ufan, displayed in the gardens of the Versailles Castle, west of Paris, France. - Sputnik International
Macron Self-Isolating in Versailles, First Lady Staying in Elysee Palace, Reports Say
10:00 GMT 18.12.2020
Austria to Go Into Lockdown After Christmas Until 18 January
09:28 GMT 18.12.2020
UN Chief Says Important to Fight Disinformation on Coronavirus

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres stressed the importance of spreading science-backed information on the coronavirus and countering disinformation during his address to the German parliament on Friday.

"We must also fight the virus of misinformation. Across the globe, we have seen how populist approaches that ignore science have misled the public. Coupled with false news and wild conspiracies, things have become manifestly worse", Guterres said.

09:19 GMT 18.12.2020
Argentina Hopes to Start Producing Russian Sputnik V in Near Future, Presidential Adviser Says
The view shows an ampoule component 1 of the two-component vector vaccine the Sputnik-V against coronavirus infectionin the city polyclinic No. 4 in Volgograd, Russia - Sputnik International
Argentina Hopes to Start Producing Russian Sputnik V in Near Future, Presidential Adviser Says
08:55 GMT 18.12.2020
South Korea to Ink COVID Vaccine Supply Deals With Janssen, Pfizer Later in December
08:41 GMT 18.12.2020
Sputnik V Lite Vaccine to Protect People From Severe Cases of COVID-19 - Developer
08:38 GMT 18.12.2020
Top Brazilian Court Rules Compulsory Vaccination Against COVID-19 in Line With Constitution

RIO DE JANIERO (Sputnik) - Vaccination against COVID-19 can be mandatory in Brazil, however citizens cannot be forced to be vaccinated even though those who refuse to take the shot can still be penalised by the authorities, the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court said in a ruling.

The panel of judges heard a case about obligatory vaccination in Brazil. Ten of the Supreme Court’s eleven judges agreed with justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who said that the forced vaccination of people is unconstitutional and persons who refuse to be vaccinated cannot harm collective health.

"From a strictly constitutional point of view, the provision of obligatory vaccination, barring the imposition of forced vaccination, is considered legitimate", the judge said during the session.

The only judge who did not fully agree with Lewandowski was Kassio Nunes Marques who believed that the compulsory nature of the vaccine should be "an extreme measure”, when other treatment alternatives are exhausted.

The Supreme Court decided that both the federal government as well as state and municipal authorities may determine whether the vaccine will be mandatory or not. The penalties for not complying with the obligation will be defined by law.

08:05 GMT 18.12.2020
Pfizer Applies for Vaccine Authorisation in Japan
08:00 GMT 18.12.2020
French Scientist Warns Country Probably Won't 'Return to Normal' Until Fall 2021

France will probably not return to a normal life before autumn 2021, senior government scientific adviser Jean-François Delfraissy said on Friday.

"We have a virus which continues to circulate strongly while we are just coming out of a second lockdown", the immunologist told BFM.

07:43 GMT 18.12.2020
Ex-Burundi President Pierre Buyoya Dies Due to Coronavirus
07:32 GMT 18.12.2020
New Lockdown in England Cannot be Ruled Out After Christmas, UK Minister Says

British schools minister Nick Gibb has answered questions about the possibility of a new national lockdown, saying that "nothing can't be ruled out". He noted, however, that that the current tier system is "a very effective way... to focus the restrictions".

07:31 GMT 18.12.2020
China to Vaccinate 50Mln People Against COVID Before Lunar New Year - Reports

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - China intends to vaccinate 50 million people against the novel coronavirus before the peak of travel season expected during Lunar New Year, which will be celebrated on February 12, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The newspaper said that earlier this week, officials from regional disease control and prevention centers across the Asian country held a virtual training meeting to prepare for mass vaccination of high-priority groups.

07:00 GMT 18.12.2020
India Plans to Produce 300 Million Doses of Sputnik V Vaccine in 2021
06:15 GMT 18.12.2020
FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Moderna's Coronavirus Vaccine for Emergency Use

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Vaccine Advisory Committee has voted to recommend Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate for emergency use authorisation.

"We have a favourable vote", Kathleen Hayes, the designated federal official who tallied the votes cast during the meeting, said in a live stream of Thursday.

05:46 GMT 18.12.2020
Belgium Reports 3,146 New Coronavirus Cases
05:18 GMT 18.12.2020
Number of COVID-19 Cases in India Rises by 22,889
04:54 GMT 18.12.2020
South Korea Reports Over 1,000 New Coronavirus Cases for 3 Days Straight
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