14:44 GMT02 March 2021
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    According to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University, the global death toll from the coronavirus infection has surpassed 1.64 million, while over 74 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide.

    At the moment, the worst-hit countries are the United States (almost 17 million cases, 307,000 deaths), India (9.9 million infections, more than 144,000 fatalities), and Brazil (over 7 million cases, and a death toll of over 183,000).

    At the same time, countries are preparing for vaccinations, with Russia and the UK being the first to start mass campaigns, providing the Sputnik V and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines respectively to their citizens.

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    • 03:39

      FDA Panel Recommends Moderna Vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization

      This file photo taken on November 18, 2020 shows a syringe and a bottle reading Vaccine Covid-19 next to the Moderna biotech company logo.

      FDA Panel Recommends Moderna Vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization

      Medical staffers began administering the first dosages of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday. With a US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization, a Moderna vaccine could soon become the second approved for use across the country.
      Read more
    • 23:10

      US Launches Phase 3 Trial of 2 New Antibody Treatments for COVID-19 - Health Dept.

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States announced phase 3 clinical trials of two experimental drugs to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients when combined with existing treatments, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said in a press release.

      "The trials are part of the ACTIV-3 master protocol, which has an adaptive design allowing investigators to add new sub-studies of additional investigational agents," the release said on Thursday.

      ACTIV-3 refers to a NIAID protocol designed to test treatments using multiple drugs administered simultaneously, with trial participants either receiving the investigative agent or a placebo in addition to standard treatments, which typically include the antiviral drug remdesivir, the release said.

      One sub-study will evaluate VIR-7831, a monoclonal antibody developed by GlaxoSmithKline in the United Kingdom and Vir Biotechnology in the United States. The other sub-study will evaluate a combination of BRII-196 and BRII-198, two monoclonal antibodies manufactured by Brii Biosciences in Beijing and the state of North Carolina, the release added. Monoclonal antibodies are grown in a lab as copies of naturally occurring proteins produced by the human immune system.

      The protocol allows researchers to evaluate each antibody in a small group of volunteers, and then to enroll a larger group of volunteers if the antibody appears safe and effective. Initially, researchers will enroll approximately 450 volunteers who have been hospitalized with mild to moderate COVID-19 and fewer than 13 days of symptoms, the release said.

      If the experimental drug appears to be safe and effective, each sub-study will enroll an additional 700 people, half receiving the drug and half a placebo. The primary endpoint of the trial is the participants’ sustained recovery for 14 days after release from the hospital, the release added.

    • 19:26

      Northern Ireland to Reportedly Enter Six-Week Lockdown on Boxing Day

      According to a Sky News report, Northern Ireland will enter a six-week lockdown on 26 December, also known as Boxing Day, amid rising COVID-19 cases.

      The new restrictions are due to come into force at 00.01 a.m., local time, on 26 December.

    • 19:12

      France's Coronavirus Epidemic Trend Raises Concern – Health Official

      PARIS (Sputnik) - Jerome Salomon, the French director for public health, said the evolution of the coronavirus outbreak in his country was concerning, after incidence almost doubled since last week.

      "In France, the evolution of the epidemic is concerning. There is a tendency toward increased circulation of the virus," he told reporters at a weekly press conference.

      France recorded 18,254 new cases in the previous 24-hour period, up from a daily 10,000 seen last week. The French government hopes to contain the spread of the virus at 5,000 new cases a day.

    • 18:17

      Macron Was 'Very Likely' Infected With COVID-19 During European Council, French Presidency Says

    • 17:42

      Peru to Ban Use of Private Transport on New Year as Part of Anti-COVID Measures

      The Peruvian authorities have banned the use of private vehicles during Christmas and New Year holidays as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to a presidential decree published by the official gazette.

      "To include ... in the presidential decree on the state of emergency declared over ... COVID-19 ... the following: on December 24, 25 and 31, 2020 and January 1, 2021, the use of private transport is prohibited at the national level," the decree read.

      Peru has so far confirmed 989,457 cases of COVID-19 and 36,858 fatalities.

    • 17:05

      Wife of French President Macron Tests Negative for COVID-19

    • 15:47

      UK to Extend COVID-19 Furlough Scheme Until End of April 2021

      The United Kingdom government has extended its COVID-19 furlough scheme until the end of April 2021 as part of efforts to support businesses through the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic, the UK Treasury said on Thursday.

      "The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 with the government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages – giving businesses and employees across the UK certainty into the New Year," a press release published by the UK Treasury read.

      Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the UK government's measures to support workers and businesses through the ongoing pandemic were some of the most generous in the world.

      "Our package of support for businesses and workers continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world – helping our economy to recover and protecting livelihoods across the country," Sunak said in the press release.

      The UK economy is projected to contract 11.3 percent in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunak told the House of Commons in November.

      The government's furlough scheme was first introduced to provide support to workers and businesses this past March, and has cost the government an estimated 46.4 billion pounds ($63 billion).

      On Wednesday, the UK Department of Health and Social Care registered 25,161 new positive tests for COVID-19, taking the country's case total above 1.9 million.

    • 14:56

      Poland Introduces National Quarantine From December 28 to January 17

      Poland imposes a curfew on New Year's holidays from 9 p.m. on December 31 to 6 a.m. on January 1, as well as nationwide quarantine from December 28 to January 17 due to coronavirus epidemic, Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Thursday.

      "We are introducing nationwide quarantine from December 28 to January 17," the minister said at a press conference in Warsaw.

      He explained that hotels, ski slopes, and shops other than grocery stores would not work.

      It will be possible to leave the house for urgent needs, for example, visiting a pharmacy or official duties, the minister added.

    • 14:32

      EU Might Purchase Up to 200Mln Doses of Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

      The European Commission has held preparatory talks with the pharmaceutical company Novavax to purchase up to 200 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, the Commission  said in a press release on Thursday.

      "Today, the European Commission concluded exploratory talks with the pharmaceutical company Novavax with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against COVID-19.The envisaged contract with Novavax would provide for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase 100 million doses, and they could further purchase up to 100 million more doses," the press release said.

      On Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that it intends to hold a meeting to assess the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on December 21; Moderna's vaccine is scheduled to be considered by mid-January next year.

      In November, the European Commission said that it secured the purchase of 1.2 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from various developers, including BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-GSK, CureVac, Moderna. Negotiations are underway with other companies.

    • 13:51

      Putin Deems Int'l COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates Possible, But Stresses That More Study Needed

    • 13:49

      Putin Notes Russia is Not Planning to Impose Coronavirus Lockdown

    • 13:43

      Irish PM Martin Restricts His Activities After Macron Diagnosed With Coronavirus

      "The Taoiseach and President Macron were both attendees at the EU Council meeting in Brussels last week. The Taoiseach is limiting his contacts this afternoon as a precaution while he is tested", a government spokesman said.

    • 13:22

      Saudi Arabia Starts COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

      DOHA (Sputnik) – Medical centres across Saudi Arabia on Thursday launched a nationwide vaccination campaign against the novel coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health.

      Minister of Health Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the step marks the beginning of the resolution of COVID-19 crisis by means of the largest campaign in the kingdom's history. He stressed that the vaccination is non-mandatory.

      Saudi citizens and foreign residents will be able to receive the free vaccine at 550 clinics spread across the kingdom, with people aged over 65 and individuals with chronic diseases getting vaccinated first.

    • 13:15

      US Confirms Record-High Coronavirus Death Toll With 3,656 New Fatalities

    • 12:29

      German Chancellor Merkel Tested Negative for Coronavirus After EU Summit With Macron

      "The chancellor took a PCR test a few days after the EU summit, as usual. The result was negative", the government spokesperson said, adding that Merkel was taking all necessary precautions during the summit.

    • 12:18

      'National Shame': Indian Ex-PM’s Aide Calls for Apology to Foreign Muslims Over COVID Crackdown

      A doctor engages in screening of residents at an apartment complex for COVID-19 symptoms in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

      'National Shame': Indian Ex-PM’s Aide Calls for Apology to Foreign Muslims Over COVID Crackdown

      The police investigation and subsequent detention of Tablighi Jamaat followers from foreign countries are also said to have created a diplomatic issue between New Delhi and other capitals. In April, the incarceration of Indonesians who were part of a Tablighi gathering featured in talks between PM Modi and his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo.
      Read more
    • 11:59

      Germany Sets Daily Record With 30,000 New Coronavirus Cases

    • 11:54

      Argentina to Receive 600,000 Russian Sputnik V Vaccine Doses on 23 December, Reports Say

    • 11:49

      UK to Apply Tier 3 Measures Across Wider Areas in East and South-East England, Health Minister Announces

      "It is therefore necessary to apply tier 3 measures across a much wider area of the east and southeast of England", Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

    • 11:35

      Russia to Reopen Border as Soon as Doctors Allow, President Putin Says

    • 11:34

      Portuguese PM Costa Cancels Activities After Meeting With Macron

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has put off all international visits in the near future after his contacts with French President Emmanuel Macron who has tested positive for COVID-19, the Portuguese government said on Thursday.

      A statement released by the government said Costa has decided to cancel his visits to Saint Thomas and Prince and to Guinea-Bissau, scheduled for 18-20 December, adding that other meetings that will not require physical presence will be carried out remotely.

    • 11:17

      EU Concludes Preliminary Negotiations With Novavax on Purchasing 200 Mln Vaccine Doses

      "The envisaged contract foresees the possibility for member states to buy 100 million doses with the option of buying another 100 million doses," the spokesman said.

    • 11:12

      French PM Castex Tested Negative for Coronavirus

    • 11:00

      EC President von der Leyen Announces Launch of Vaccination in EU on 27-29 December

    • 10:55

      European Council Head Michel Self-Isolating After Macron Diagnosed With COVID-19

      "[Charles Michel] was informed by the French authorities that he is not considered to be a close contact. He is tested regularly and tested negative on Tuesday. However as a matter of precaution the president will go into self-isolation", a EU spokesman said.

    • 10:52

      BioNTech Says 140,000 Britons Have Been Vaccinated

      "In Britain, 140,000 people have been vaccinated by now and the tolerability data are exactly as we have shown in our clinical trial", Chief Medical Officer Oezlem Tuereci said in a webcast call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • 10:48

      Bulgaria Extends Until 31 January Restrictive Measures to Curb Spread of COVID-19

    • 10:29

      Spanish PM Sanchez Goes Into Quarantine After Macron Diagnosed With COVID-19

      "After the Elysee Palace said that French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for Covid-19, chair of the government Pedro Sanchez is suspending all of the upcoming events he had planned, to comply with sanitary protocols", the press service of the government said.

    • 10:27

      UK PM Johnson Wishes Macron Speedy Recovery From Coronavirus

    • 10:11

      Russia to Scale Up COVID-19 Vaccine Production Facilities for Mass Immunisation, President Putin Says

      "In order to produce this vaccine, we need adequate plants, production facilities and it will be scaled up and if all the plans are fulfilled by the start of 2021, we will have millions of doses and then the numbers will be growing", Putin said at his traditional end-of-year news conference.

      "As for the need for mass vaccination, I think it should be done. The same is being said not only by our domestic virologists, but their foreign counterparts across the world. One of the ways to overcome the challenges of the pandemic is mass vaccination. It should create herd immunity. I will reiterate that our vaccine is safe and effective. That is why I don't see any reasons not to get vaccinated", Putin added.

    • 10:02

      Swedish King Scolds Government Over COVID-19 Pandemic: 'I Believe We Have Failed'

      Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf. (File)

      Swedish King Scolds Government Over COVID-19 Pandemic: 'I Believe We Have Failed'

      In an eyebrow-raising speech that many interpreted as outright criticism of the government, Carl XVI Gustaf emphasised that the Swedish people have “suffered terribly” and lost many lives.
      Read more
    • 09:52

      New Zealand Secures Almost 15Mln Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine From 4 Developers

      "The four pre-purchase agreements secured to date are: 750,000 courses from Pfizer/BioNTech; 5 million courses from Janssen; 3.8 million courses from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca; and 5.36 million courses from Novavax", the government said in a press release.

    • 09:37

      President Rouhani Says Iran Overcame Third COVID-19 Wave

      "I am very happy that we have managed to overcome the third wave of COVID-19 due to joint work of the people, medical staff, and mobilized forces", Rouhani said during the speech that was broadcast on television.

    • 09:31

      French President Macron Tests Positive for COVID-19

      French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective face mask, listens to Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa (not seen) as they talk to the media before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 16, 2020

      French President Macron Tests Positive for COVID-19

      With a second wave of the coronavirus currently ongoing in France, the COVID-19 lockdown in the country was replaced with a dusk-to-dawn curfew from 8.00 pm to 6.00 am (19:00 to 05:00 GMT) starting from 15 December.
      Read more
    • 09:12

      ‘We Want Them Infected’: Trump Health Aide Pushed Letting Millions Get COVID-19 for ‘Herd Immunity’

      Students at St Columba's High School, Gourock, Scotland, wear protective face masks as the requirement for secondary school pupils when moving around school comes into effect from today across Scotland, Monday Aug. 31, 2020

      ‘We Want Them Infected’: Trump Health Aide Pushed Letting Millions Get COVID-19 for ‘Herd Immunity’

      As the first vaccinations in the US begin for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, amid hundreds of thousands of deaths from the disease, new documents from the outgoing Trump administration reveal that the catastrophic rise in cases in recent months could have been part of a deliberate policy decision.
      Read more
    • 08:39

      Irish Health Service Head Warns of Possible Surge in COVID-19 Cases Post-Christmas

      "The concern is that we get this kind of explosive concoction when we have a major impact post-Christmas," Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid told RTE radio.

    • 08:26

      Uruguay Imposes Entry Ban From 21 December to 10 January Due to COVID-19

    • 08:20

      Number of Coronavirus Cases in Wales for Past Week Could Double as 11,000 Positive Tests Were Missed

    • 08:00

      Russia Registers 28,214 COVID-19 Cases in Past 24 Hours

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has registered 28,214 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 26,509 the day before, bringing the total to 2,762,668, the federal response centre said on Thursday.

      "Over the past day, 28,214 coronavirus cases were confirmed in 85 regions, including 5,239 cases (18.6 percent) without clinical symptoms", the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 2,762,668, with the rate of increase at 1 percent.

    • 07:47

      Two Alaskan Medical Workers Hospitalised With Allergic Reaction After Pfizer Vaccine Shot - Reports

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Two medical workers in the US state of Alaska developed severe allergic reactions after having been inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, The New York Times reported, citing the hospital.

      According to the NYT's Wednesday report, one person, a middle-aged woman without known allergies, developed an anaphylactic reaction 10 minutes after being inoculated at the Bartlett Regional Hospital in the city of Juneau on Tuesday. Her symptoms included a rash on her face and torso, an increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. The woman was originally supposed to be discharged on Wednesday, but later in the day, the hospital kept her there for another night.

      The second worker at the same hospital is said to have been inoculated on Wednesday and began suffering from puffy eyes, dizziness, and a scratchy throat ten minutes after the shot. The worker recovered within an hour and was later discharged.

      The hospital says that both staffers did not want their situations to affect those about to get vaccinated.

    • 07:47

      North Korea Reports Enhanced COVID-19 Prevention Efforts While Claiming Zero Tally

    • 07:12

      Czech Republic Extends Pandemic State of Emergency to 22 January as COVID Death Toll Surpasses 10,000

    • 06:41

      Ecuador Approves Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Against COVID-19

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Ecuador's National Agency for Regulation, Control and Sanitary Vigilance (ARCSA) has approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said.

      "The ARCSA approved last night [Tuesday] that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be distributed and administrated in Ecuador. It is big news; it only remains for the vaccine to arrive in January", Zevallos.

    • 06:01

      US Secretary of Interior Bernhardt Tested Positive for COVID-19

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesman for the US Department of the Interior confirmed to The Washington Post.

      "He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine", spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said.

    • 04:58

      Number of Coronavirus Cases in India Rises by 24,010

    • 04:49

      Belgium Confirms 3,636 New COVID-19 Cases

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