(Reuters) -Only about 2.8 million Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine going into the last day of December, putting the United States far short of the government’s target to vaccinate 20 million people this month.
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* British doctors have said a government decision to delay giving a coronavirus vaccine booster shot to vulnerable patients who have already had a first dose will be distressing and disruptive, their trade union said.
* About 4,000 additional positive tests for COVID-19 in the last two to three days have yet to be formally confirmed in Ireland, meaning the situation is worse than recent record daily figures suggest, a senior health official.
* All travellers entering Norway will have to take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival from Jan. 2, the country’s justice ministry said.
* A Brazilian lab said it has detected two cases of the new coronavirus variant that has spread rapidly in Britain, and urged reinforcement of quarantine measures for travelers coming from Europe.
* New York City aims to vaccinate 1 million residents against the coronavirus by the end of January 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
* The leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he foresees America achieving enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain “some semblance of normality” by autumn 2021.
* The COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was approved for use in El Salvador.
* China has detected its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly around Britain, according to a publication run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
* Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm.
* A province of islands in the southern Philippines will seal itself off for an initial two weeks from Monday to keep out a new COVID-19 variant found in nearby Malaysia.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Israel is carefully husbanding supplies as it races to vaccinate all vulnerable citizens by late January and push for an early exit from the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
* South Africa will have a firm date on when it will get COVID-19 vaccine in the first few days of January, a senior health ministry official told a television news channel.
* A vaccine developed by a unit of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is 79.34% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 and the company has filed an application for regulatory approval in China for its general public use.
* A new variant of the novel coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study by Public Health England.
* The S&P 500 reversed course and turned positive on Thursday and the dollar advanced as investors prepared to close the book on a turbulent year of pandemic, recession and recovery. [MKTS/GLOB]
(Compiled by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Maju Samuel)