- US disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has apologised for remarks that seemed to criticise the UK vaccines regulator
- The UK medical regulator has defended its speed at approving a vaccine, saying it has not compromised safety
- The first doses of the vaccine will be administered from Tuesday next week in the UK, officials say
- Meanwhile, US President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office
- The French PM has called for the “biggest number possible” to get themselves vaccinated in an “altruistic act” to fight Covid-19
- In the UK, new restrictions come into force in Wales on Friday evening banning pubs, restaurants and cafes from serving alcohol
- Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafes will also have to shut from 18:00 GMT every day, except for takeaway
- It comes as the UK became the first country in Europe to pass 60,000 Covid deaths, according to official figures
World roundup:Thank you for joining our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the biggest developments from around the world:
- More than 65.2 million cases and 1.5 million coronavirus-related fatalities have been reported worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University
- US President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office to curb the spread of Covid-19. Constitutional experts say he has no legal authority to do so, but Mr Biden said he and his Vice-President Kamala Harris would set an example by donning face coverings
- The US's most populous state, California, has announced its strictest virus measures since the spring - with Governor Gavin Newsom calling this "the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic”
- Meanwhile, South Korean authorities have ordered most establishments in the capital, Seoul, to close by 21:00 local time (12:00 GMT) every day. On Friday the country reported 629 new cases – its highest in nearly nine months
- The World Health Organization has said it’s considering introducing electronic vaccination certificates. The UN body said this would make it possible to identify and monitor people who’ve had the jab, although it stressed this would not act as an immunity passport
- US police say a Hawaii couple have been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after they took a flight home from San Francisco, despite knowing they’d tested positive for coronavirus
Europe roundup:Here are some of the latest Covid-19 developments around Europe today:
- French Prime Minister Jean Castex has called for the “biggest number possible” to get themselves vaccinated in an “altruistic act” to fight Covid-19. It comes after one survey found only 51% of French people said they would get the vaccine. France's three-step strategy will start with nursing homes and carers in January, followed by the elderly and health workers, and finally everyone else in the spring. The government says a maximum of 6 adults can meet for the Christmas holiday and it has put back the winter sales to 20 January.
- Austria has started mass testing for everyone over six this morning - in Vienna, and the regions of Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Testing in the capital is taking place at 80 test stations and most other regions will do their testing the following weekend. The Canary Islands are also offering free tests in Spain for residents and students who want to come back to the archipelago for Christmas.
- The Swiss government will decide today whether ski holidays will be allowed over Christmas. Resorts are already open but Germany, France and Italy are pushing the Swiss to keep them shut and Austria has severely limited access to its resorts.
- Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has told Italians that this Christmas will be different from all the others but “no less authentic”– as movement between regions is restricted from 21 December to 6 January . A record 993 deaths were reported on Thursday and officials say one in every 36 Italians has had the virus.
- Infections are falling in Spain, where the level of cases is now around 250 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to the health ministry. Another 254 deaths were reported yesterday.
Here are the key global developments from the last few hours, courtesty of The Guardian:
- Joe Biden will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office. The US president-elect Joe Biden has told CNN that it was his “inclination” that, on his inauguration, he would ask the public to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration to help drive down the spread of the virus. Biden said he would issue an order for masks to be worn inside federal buildings and in transportation facilities.
- WHO looks at e-certificates for Covid-19 vaccination. The World Health Organization said it was considering introducing electronic vaccination certificates, as hopes for an end to the pandemic were boosted after Britain became the first country to approve use of a Covid-19 vaccine.
- Seoul to shut down most establishments at 9 pm to contain coronavirus. South Korea’s capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9pm each day, after South Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in nine months. Of the new cases, 295 were from capital Seoul alone.
- Moderna Inc said on Thursday it expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine available globally in the first quarter of 2021. The company said 85 million to 100 million of those doses would be available in the United States, with 15 million to 25 million available outside the country.
- America’s leading infectious diseases scientist, Anthony Fauci, has apologised for implying that he thought Britain’s drug regulator had rushed through its coronavirus vaccine approval. His comments came a day after Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for general use, prompting some scepticism among European neighbours and suggestions of politicisation.
- Biden joins ex-presidents in pledge to take vaccine. President-elect Joe Biden told CNN during an interview Thursday that he would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit, following Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton’s pledges to do the same.
- Costa Rica has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE for the manufacture and delivery of 3 million Covid-19 vaccines next year, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said on Thursday.
- India’s daily coronavirus cases rose by less than 40,000 for the fifth straight day, health ministry data showed on Friday, with 36,595 new infections reported in the last 24 hours. India’s daily rate has fallen since the south Asian nation reported the world’s highest such tallies through most of August and September, despite a busy festival season last month that experts had warned could trigger a spike in infections.
As countries in the West get hyped for the imminent arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, elsewhere in the world they are getting ready to roll out Russia’s vaccine.
Kazakhstan will this month start producing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, before beginning a mass vaccination campaign next year, president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s office said on Friday, according to Reuters.
The Central Asian nation will start the campaign by vaccinating doctors, teachers and policemen, the prime minister, Askar Mamin, told the president.
Kazakhstan is also about to start phase III clinical trials of its own vaccine, Mamin said, and will produce 2 million doses of it this month.
The former Soviet republic of 19 million has imposed two lockdowns this year. It has reported 134,706 coronavirus infections, with 1,990 deaths from Covid-19.
Russia reports 27,403 new coronavirus infectionsRussia has reported 27,403 new coronavirus infections, including 6,868 in Moscow, according to Reuters.
The latest update takes the national total to 2,402,949 since the pandemic began.
Authorities also confirmed 569 deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the official national death toll to 42,176.
India records under 40,000 new cases for fifth day in a rowIndia’s daily coronavirus cases rose by less than 40,000 for the fifth straight day, health ministry data showed on Friday, with 36,595 new infections reported in the last 24 hours.
India’s daily rate has fallen since the south Asian nation reported the world’s highest such tallies through most of August and September, despite a busy festival season last month that experts had warned could trigger a spike in infections.
South Korea reports highest cases in nine monthsSouth Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in nine months.
Of the new cases, 295 were from capital Seoul alone, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported.
capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9 p.m. each day, acting Seoul mayor Seo Jeong-hyup told a briefing on Friday, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The measure take effect Saturday and comes after Seoul alone reported 295 new coronavirus infections as of midnight Thursday.
Cyprus to waive test requirement for vaccinated visitorsThe government in Cyprus has approved a plan that will allow visitors who have proof they have been vaccinated against coronavirus to enter the country without a negative PCR test.
Cyprus’s move is the latest indication that life could become much easier for those who choose to be vaccinated, despite reassurances from governments and experts that vaccinations will not be mandatory.
The measure was included in an amended action plan for a resumption of flights into the country. According to the Cyprus Mail , the Cypriot cabinet approved the plan on Thursday. The paper reported:
According to the plan, presented by Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, which will enter into force on March 1, 2021, people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will not have to present negative PCR test certificate upon their arrival.