(Reuters) – Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic again, prompting some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* People who are still not vaccinated as the fourth wave of the pandemic takes hold in Germany must understand they have a duty to the rest of society to protect others, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
* The Dutch government was considering whether to impose Western Europe’s first partial lockdown since the summer, as new cases jumped to the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
* Sweden has seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 testing this month, just as much of Europe contends with surging infection rates, after its health agency said vaccinated Swedes no longer need get tested even if they have symptoms of the disease.
* U.S President Joe Biden said he would nominate former commissioner Robert Califf to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration once more.
* Canada’s epicentres are shifting from dense urban zones to more rural or remote areas that have lower vaccination rates and fewer public health resources.
* Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum said they would address economic recovery in the region by shoring up supply chains, tackling labour issues and continuing to respond to the pandemic.
* China reported the first cases among foreign athletes at preparatory events for the Feb. 4-Feb. 20 Beijing 2022 Winter Games, as stringent measures being put in place to control any outbreaks are put to the test.
* Japan’s economic stimulus package aimed at easing the pain of the pandemic will require fiscal spending of over 40 trillion yen, the Nikkei reported.
* A growing cluster in China’s Dalian has spurred the northeastern port city to limit outbound travel, cut offline school classes and close a few cultural venues after being told by national authorities to contain the outbreak more quickly.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and senior aides holed up in a nuclear command bunker to simulate an outbreak of a vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant to which children are vulnerable, describing such an eventuality as “the next war”.
* Moderna has offered to sell its vaccines to the African Union at $7 a shot, said the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control.
* AstraZeneca said it would begin to earn a modest profit from its coronavirus vaccine as the world learns to live with the virus and the drugmaker is in talks with several countries about new orders for delivery next year.
* Europe’s drug regulator has recommended two COVID-19 antibody therapies – one from American-Swiss partners Regeneron-Roche and another from South Korea’s Celltrion to build up the region’s defence as infections increase.
* A gauge of global equity markets rose on Friday, with European shares hitting new highs on strong earnings, while the dollar eased a bit but was on track for its biggest weekly gain since late August.[MKTS/GLOB]
* The number of Americans voluntarily quitting their jobs reached a record high in September while job openings stayed stubbornly above pre-pandemic levels, a sign that businesses may have to continue to raise wages in order to attract workers.
(Compiled by Federico Maccioni and Rashmi Aich; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Grant McCool)