11:47 GMT18 January 2021
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    The global death toll from the coronavirus has reached 1.4 million, while the total number of cases is close to 60 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    The list of the most affected countries remains the same: the US occupies first place with 12.5 million infected and 259,000 deaths, with India (over 9.1 million cases, 134,000 fatalities), and Brazil (over 6 million cases, and over 169,000 deaths) rounding out the top three.

    In the meantime, nations continue developing and testing new vaccines that are expected to enter the market at the beginning of next year.

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    • 03:51

      Panama to Buy 3 Million Doses of Pfizer, BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine After WHO Approval

      The Panama government plans to buy 3 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech when it is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and regulators.

      "The national government today announced an agreement with Pfizer Panama and BioNTech SE for the purchase of 3 million doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA candidate vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, subject to clinical trial success and regulatory approval in 2021," the Panama presidential administration said on Twitter.

      The government considers proper vaccine tests and WHO Pan American Health Organization approval as the key condition for the acquisition.

      A week ago, the Panama authorities approved the purchase of 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the UK AstraZeneca. In total, the government allocated $48 million for the purchase of vaccines.

      According to the Health Ministry, 156,930 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Panama, of which 2,986 were fatal. A total of 15,937 people are currently sick.

    • 02:51

      Canada Hopes to Receive First Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine in January – Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

      The Canadian government hopes that the country will get the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine in January 2021, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said.

      Last week, Canadian media reported that the country had signed a contract with US companies Moderna and Pfizer to receive 6 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19 in early 2021. According to Canadian Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo, the majority of Canadians will receive the vaccines by the end of the next year.

      “At the beginning of next year, in January of 2021, assuming those approvals are given … Canadians will be able to start being vaccinated,” LeBlanc told the CTV broadcaster on late Wednesday.

      He has not disclosed details of the signed contracts on the vaccine deliveries but stressed that the number of doses coming to the country would steadily increase.

      “We will start to receive the first millions of doses early part of 2021 … Those contracts are in place and that distribution will be made very effectively with provinces and territories," Leblanc added.

      Michelle Rempel Garner, a lawmaker from the opposition Conservative Party, has expressed doubts that the Canadian government would be able to receive coronavirus vaccines by January 2021.

    • 01:56

      US Registers Over 2,400 COVID-19 Fatalities in 24 Hours, Highest Daily Death Toll in Six Months

    • 01:48

      Peak of Coronavirus Second Wave in Tunisia Expected in December - Health Ministry

      The peak of the second wave of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tunisia is expected at the end of December 2020; in the second quarter of 2021, the authorities expect to vaccinate about 20 percent of the population, the country's Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi said.

      "The peak of the second wave of coronavirus in Tunisia is expected at the end of December, on condition of full compliance with the preventive measures imposed by the government," the minister said as quoted by the TAP news agency.

      According to Health Ministry forecasts, in case of a weakening of measures or their incomplete observance, the peak of infections will be in January 2021.

      To date, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tunisia has surpassed 91,000, with nearly 3,000 deaths and over 66,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    • 01:21

      Mexico Confirms 10,335 New COVID-19 Cases and 858 More Fatalities, Registered COVID-19 Death Toll Hits 103,597 Cases

    • 00:42

      Former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadiq Mahdi Dies of COVID-19 at Age of 84 – Reports

      Former Sudanese Prime Minister and the head of the opposition National Umma Party Sadiq Mahdi has died of the coronavirus at the age of 84, Sudanese media reported.

      Mahdi was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early November and his health condition significantly deteriorated on Wednesday, Al-Sudani newspaper reported on late Wednesday.

      The former prime minister has reportedly died in the United Arab Emirates.

      Mahdi was the prime minister of Sudan in 1966-1967 and in 1986-1989. He had also been in long-year opposition to former President Omar Bashir.

    • 23:59

      South Korea Confirms Over 500 New COVID-19 Cases, Highest Rate Since March

    • 23:08

      Biden Says Hospitals in US at Risk of Being Overwhelmed Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases

      Presumed US President-elect Joe Biden said on Wednesday that hospitals in the United States face the possibility of being overwhelmed because of a rise in novel coronavirus cases.

      "Our country is in the middle of a dramatic spike in cases. We are now averaging 160,000 new cases a day," Biden said on Wednesday. "Many local health systems are at risk of being overwhelmed."

      Earlier on Wednesday, Biden Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told reporters that the Biden transition team’s COVID-19 Advisory Board will begin briefings with the Trump administration.

      The experts, which include David Kessler, Vivek Murthy and Marcella Nunez-Smith, will be focusing on the Trump administration’s plan for vaccine distribution, testing and the supply chain of personal protective equipment, Bedingfield said.

      The Advisory Board said its members are being provided with good information and look forward to learning more about Operation Warp Speed - the Trump administration program tasked with addressing coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics.

    • 22:45

      US Lawmakers Request Study of COVID-19 Risk in Air Travel - Letter

      US House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio and Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro formally requesting the General Accountability Office (GAO) to undertake three studies to gauge risks of air travel during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

      “The purpose of these studies is to help inform Congress about the risks of air travel during a public health crisis, better understand the Federal response that has been taken to address these risks, and to identify lessons learned that can inform future Federal legislation,” the letter said on Wednesday.

      The lawmakers asked the GAO for one study of recent government, academic and industry research on coronavirus transmission via air travel.

      They requested a second study to identify responsibilities of the state, local and federal officials, as well as airport staff and contractors in protecting passengers and crew from contagious diseases.

      A third study requested would grade the aviation industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and produce a report on lessons learned.

      The lawmakers cited an earlier GAO report that found the United States has yet to develop a national aviation strategy for communicable disease outbreaks despite having signed an international aviation treaty requiring such a plan.

    • 21:27

      Brazil Confirms 47,898 New Cases of COVID-19 and 654 New Fatalities

    • 21:01

      Canadian Province of Saskatchewan Restricts Capacities in Casinos, Theatres, Large Stores To Contain the COVID-19 Outbreak

      The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is re-introducing some COVID-19-related restrictions amid an increase of new cases, the provincial government said in a statement.

      "Additional public health measures are being introduced based on the transmission patterns observed in Saskatchewan, providing further guidance to help reduce COVID-19 case numbers over the coming weeks," the statement said on Wednesday.

      The new measures include limiting capacity in numerous indoor settings to 30 people, suspending all sports and group activities and expanding mandatory masking to all indoor fitness activities, the statement said.

      The new restrictions and measures will go into effect on November 27 and will remain in place until December 17.

      Saskatchewan follows Alberta, which declared a public health emergency on Tuesday, in rolling back certain parts of the reopening process.

      As of Wednesday, provincial health authorities have reported 7,047 coronavirus cases and 37 virus-related deaths.

    • 20:50

      German Chancellor Merkel Says in Particularly Severe Hotspots Further Measures to Combat COVID-19 Will be Imposed

    • 20:47

      German Chancellor Merkel Says Measures Will Remain in Place in January Unless Germany Reaches the COVID-19 Infection Target

    • 20:44

      German Chancellor Merkel Says Wearing Masks is a Must in All High-Traffic Areas and City Centres

    • 20:42

      German Chancellor Merkel Says Starting From December 23 Through New Year, Family Gatherings of Up to 10 People Will be Possible

    • 20:40

      German Chancellor Merkel Calls on Citizens to Avoid all Unnecessary Contacts and Not to Conduct Unnecessary Trips

    • 20:38

      German Chancellor Merkel Says Government Will Extend the November Measures to December 20

      Germany prolongs the coronavirus-linked restrictions until December 20 while the limitations of social contacts are likely to be in place until January, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference after the meeting with minister-presidents of federal states.

      The decision was first announced by Minister-President of the federal state Saxony-Anhalt Reiner Haseloff.

      “The clear statement of the federation and federal states says that we cannot lift the restrictions in late November,” Merkel said on late Wednesday adding that the limited lockdown is likely to be extended until December 20.

      The chancellor stressed that the limitations of social contacts would be withdrawn earlier than in January only in case of a sharp decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

      “We also share an opinion that the due to the high number of new cases … the restrictions must remain in place until the beginning of January if we do not see an unexpected decrease in the number of infections to less than 50 people per 100,000 [within seven days],” Merkel added.

    • 20:36

      German Chancellor Merkel Says Daily COVID-19 Cases Rate Remains at Far Too High a Level

    • 20:34

      Premier of German State of Hesse Says Chancellor Merkel and Federal States Agreed to Expand Measures to Curb COVID-19, Tighten in Some Areas

    • 20:26

      US Central Bankers Agree to Adjust Asset Purchases to Support Economy as Pandemic Worsens

      The US Federal Reserve needs to adjust the way it buys assets in the financial marketplace to support the US economy as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic grows, the central bank’s monthly policy meeting minutes released Wednesday showed.

      "While participants judged that immediate adjustments to the pace and composition of asset purchases were not necessary, they recognized that circumstances could shift to warrant such adjustment," the Fed said in the minutes of the meeting held between November 4 and 5 by its Federal Open Market Committee. "Accordingly, participants saw the ongoing careful consideration of potential next steps for enhancing the Committee's guidance for its asset purchases as appropriate."

      The minutes underscored the Fed’s difficulties in managing the COVID-19 nine months into its breakout.

      A recent example was the demand by outgoing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the central bank return unused portion of the $455 billion allocated to its emergency lending programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act set to expire at the end of the year.

      Mnuchin said his decision was based on Congress’ original intent when it allocated the money, that whatever unused funds are returned to Treasury.

      Officials at the Fed, however, expressed surprise at Mnuchin’s decision to try and claw back the funds when its lending programs were still on and while economic stress from the COVID-19 was accelerating.

      Mnuchin, in his defence, said politics was not behind the decision. The treasury secretary will remain in his post until January 20, after which President-Elect Joe Biden and his administration will take over from incumbent Donald Trump’s government. Mnuchin said if the Fed needed to tap the funds again, it could seek the approval of the next treasury secretary - a process that further slows the central bank’s lending processes amid the pandemic.

      In the minutes issued Wednesday, the Fed said that while the current stance of monetary policy remained appropriate, both employment and inflation fell well short of the FOMC’s goals.

      Uncertainty about the course of the virus and the outlook for the economy, in contrast, remained very elevated, it said.

      "Participants viewed the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States and abroad as a downside risk to the recovery; a few participants noted that diminished odds for further significant fiscal support also increased downside risks and added to uncertainty about the economic outlook," the minutes added.

      The US economy grew by a record 33.1 percent in the third quarter, after shrinking by 31.4 percent in the previous three months and 5 percent in the first quarter. In 2019, the economy grew by 4.1 percent.

    • 14:16

      Death Toll From COVID-19 in Moscow Rises by 73 Over Past Day to 8,603 – Response Center

      Moscow has registered 73 deaths of patients infected with COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the Russian capital's death toll to 8,603, the city's coronavirus response center said in a statement on Wednesday.

      "Another 73 patients, who were diagnosed with pneumonia and tested positive for the coronavirus infection, died in Moscow," the center said.

      In the previous day, 75 people infected with the coronavirus died in Moscow.

    • 13:56

      India’s Bull Semen Supply Chain May Offer Logistical Answer to COVID Vaccine Distribution Challenge


      India’s Bull Semen Supply Chain May Offer Logistical Answer to COVID Vaccine Distribution Challenge

      The COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna need to be preserved at a very low temperature. India’s Serum Institute is manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University.
      Read more
    • 13:31

      EU Drug Agency Discussing Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine With Producer, European Commission Says

      In this handout photo released by Hungarian Foreign Ministry, laboratory assistants unpack Russia's coronavirus vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac, trade-named Sputnik V, in Budapest, Hungary

      EU Drug Agency Discussing Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine With Producer, European Commission Says

      BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is in talks with the manufacturer of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus following the vaccine developer reaching out to the EMA, a representative of the European Commission told Sputnik.
      Read more
    • 13:02

      UK Government Providing 280 Billion Pounds to Help Country Get Through Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic – Chancellor Sunak

    • 12:55

      British GDP Dropped 11.3% in 2020 Due to Pandemic, Biggest Fall in 300 Years, Chancellor Sunak Says

    • 12:36

      Iran Sets Daily Record With 13,800 New Coronavirus Infections

    • 11:50

      Norway Extends Anti-Coronavirus Restrictions for 3 Weeks

    • 11:06

      Indian Authorities Extend Restriction on 50% Occupancy for Cinema Halls and Swimming Pools

    • 10:21

      Coronavirus Tally in Afghanistan Rises to 45,490

    • 09:39

      Poland Reports 674 Fatalities in Highest Daily Death Toll From Coronavirus

    • 09:25

      Indonesia Reports Record-High Daily Increase With 5,534 New COVID Cases

    • 09:11

      Sinopharm Requests Beijing's Permission to Market Its COVID-19 Vaccine

      BEIJING (Sputnik) - Chinese National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) has filed an official request to allow its vaccine against COVID-19 to enter the market, Vice President Shi Shengyi said on Wednesday.

      "Sinopharm has filed a request with the national food and drug administration to enter the market of vaccines against the coronavirus infection", the vice president said, according to the Xinhua news agency.

    • 08:40

      First EU Citizens May Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 by End of December - Von der Leyen

    • 08:35

      AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine 90% Effective Only Among Age Group Below 55 - US Advisor

      FILE PHOTO:The logo of AstraZeneca is seen on medication packages in a pharmacy in London

      Works in a Younger Population: Scepticism Grows Over Efficacy of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

      Uncertainty has mounted over the fate of AstraZeneca’s vaccine following reports of inconsistent efficacy. The inoculation, which was developed in collaboration with Oxford University, is based on the monkey adenoviral vector, which experts say hasn’t proved its efficacy yet.
      Read more
    • 08:24

      Scientist Slams Swedish COVID-19 Strategy as 'Fraught With Conflict'

      People strollIing in the cold but sunny weather pass a sign asking to maintain social distancing, amid the continuous spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Stockholm, Sweden, November 20, 2020

      Scientist Slams Swedish COVID-19 Strategy as 'Fraught With Conflict'

      Unlike many European nations, Sweden has steered clear of comprehensive lockdowns and outright bans, instead relying on recommendations and the voluntary participation of citizens, something that has been described as "the Swedish model". This approach has triggered polarising reactions from the public and academia alike.
      Read more
    • 08:22

      EU Commission Head Von Der Leyen Warns Against Relaxing Pandemic Measures Too Fast

      "I know that shop owners, bartenders, and waiters in restaurants want an end to restrictions. But we must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes", von der Leyen said. "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas", she stated.

    • 08:21

      Recipharm AB Signs Letter of Intent With Moderna to Produce Its Coronavirus Vaccine in France

    • 07:42

      Over 3,000 New COVID-19 Infections Registered in Georgia

    • 07:29

      Russia Confirms 23,675 New Coronavirus Cases

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has registered 23,675 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 24,326 the day before, bringing the total to 2,162,503, the federal response centre said on Wednesday.

      "In the past 24 hours, Russia has confirmed 23,675 COVID-19 cases in 85 regions, of which 5,156 (21.8 percent) were detected among people showing no clinical symptoms", the response centre said, adding that the case count has reached 2,162,503.

    • 06:55

      Pandemic-Hit Firms in France May Choose 10,000 Euros or 20% of Turnover in Aid - Macron

      MOSCOW, (Sputnik) - French businesses that have been closed at the order of the government to curb the second coronavirus outbreak will be able to choose between two fiscal aid options provided by the state, French President Emmanuel Macron announced.

      "All companies forced to close during lockdown (restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.) will be able to choose the preferable option for them: support up to 10,000 [$11,902] euros from the solidarity fund or the payment of 20% of their turnover", Macron tweeted early on Wednesday.

    • 05:57

      Key Strategist From India's Congress Party Dies After COVID Complications; Condolences Flood Twitter


      Key Strategist From India's Congress Party Dies After COVID Complications; Condolences Flood Twitter

      Last month, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel tested positive for COVID-19. Following complications, he was admitted to an intensive care unit of a hospital in Gurugram, India.
      Read more
    • 05:18

      India Confirms Over 44,000 New Coronavirus Cases

    • 04:33

      YouTube Suspends US Media Network OANN Over Alleged COVID-19 Misinformation, Report Says

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      YouTube Suspends US Media Network OANN Over Alleged COVID-19 Misinformation, Report Says

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - YouTube on Tuesday suspended One America News Network (OANN) from uploading content for a week for allegedly spreading misinformation about the novel coronavirus and demonetized the media outlet, CNBC reported.
      Read more
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