(Reuters) – The UK variant of the coronavirus has developed a new, concerning mutation in a small number of cases, which scientists said makes it similar to the South African and Brazilian variants and could reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* Britain’s Captain Tom Moore, the World War Two veteran who lifted a nation’s spirits by raising millions of pounds for health service workers battling the coronavirus, died aged 100 after he contracted COVID-19.
* Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that most of the lockdown measures in the Netherlands will remain in place for weeks due to fears over a surge in cases as a result of variant strains.
* French President Emmanuel Macron said all French people who are willing to be vaccinated will be offered a vaccine by the end of summer, while the country’s top health advisory body approved the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot.
* Russia will be able to vaccinate 700 million people with the Sputnik V shot this year, the head of the RDIF sovereign wealth fund said.
* Germany will have vaccinated 10 million people against the new coronavirus by the end of the first quarter, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
* India is expected to grant emergency use authorization for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine this month or next, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said.
* Vietnam’s health minister said a newly detected outbreak that has infected 301 people was caused by the more contagious UK variant of the coronavirus.
* Japan will hold the Summer Olympics regardless of the situation with the pandemic, and plans to begin vaccinations in mid-February.
* The Biden administration will launch a new program shipping coronavirus vaccines directly to retail pharmacies starting next week in an effort to increase Americans’ access to shots.
* The White House will raise the federal government’s planned increase in the supply of COVID-19 vaccine to states to 20% over three weeks, from a prior pledge of 16%, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
* Canada has signed its first deal to allow a foreign coronavirus vaccine to be manufactured domestically.
* Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said the nation had signed a contract for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and would likely issue an emergency use authorization for it within hours.
* The head of the PAHO-WHO mission in Venezuela said the South American nation has reserved at least 1.4 million vaccines through the international COVAX system.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa will get 2 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization by March.
* Uganda has ordered 18 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
* Pfizer aims to make two billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.
* Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine proved to be almost 92% effective in protecting against COVID-19.
* Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine had 76% efficacy against symptomatic infection for three months after a single dose, which increased if the second shot is delayed.
* Global stock markets surged on increased optimism about more U.S. stimulus and recovery, while retail investors retreated from GameStop and their fleeting interest in silver, causing their prices to tumble. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Democrats in Congress prepared to take the first steps toward fast-track passage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package – and without Republican support if necessary.
(Compiled by Aditya Soni, Veronica Snoj and Jagoda Darlak; Edited by Angus MacSwan and Bill Berkrot)