(Reuters) – The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 2 million, as nations worldwide try to procure multiple vaccines and detect new COVID-19 variants.
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.
* Some EU nations are receiving fewer than expected doses of vaccines as Pfizer slows shipments, while Turkey and China race ahead with inoculations.
* People worldwide are generally likely to say yes to getting a vaccine, but would be more distrustful of shots made in China or Russia than those developed in Germany or the United States, an international poll showed.
* Britain is tightening border controls to block new variants of COVID-19.
* Russia will fully reopen schools from next week as the national case tally passed the 3.5 million mark.
* Greece will loosen some lockdown restrictions, officials said, while France’s cumulative death toll neared 70,000.
* Catalonia postponed a parliamentary election scheduled for Feb. 14 until May 30 as cases surged.
* Philippine senators questioned the government’s preference for the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine after latest data showed it has a lower efficacy rate.
* Nepal granted approval for AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine, following a meeting with neighbouring India, a major manufacturer of the shot.
* The UK variant of the coronavirus could become the dominant variant in the United States by March, the U.S. CDC warned.
* The World Health Organization (WHO) refrained from advising proof of COVID-19 vaccination or immunity as a condition for international travel.
* Some U.S. nursing home residents are facing delays for vaccines despite extreme risk.
* The first modest batches of vaccines are expected to go out under the COVAX scheme for poorer countries in the first quarter of this year, the top WHO scientist said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa’s mining companies will support the government in the roll-out of vaccines as the nation battles a surge in infections, the industry body said.
* Millions of vaccine doses secured by the African Union will be allocated according to countries’ population size, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
* The Lebanese parliament passed a law to pave the way for vaccine deals.
* The European Commission is working on a vaccine certificate, dubbed “Vaxproof”, that could help restore cross-border travel, EU officials said.
* Canada said Pfizer’s decision to temporarily cut shipments of some COVID-19 vaccines was unfortunate but should not hit its inoculation programme.
* Stocks and oil prices fell on Friday pressured by intensifying lockdowns and weak U.S. retail sales data, while the dollar was on track to post its strongest week in over two months. [MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. retail sales fell for a third straight month in December as renewed measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 triggered job losses, further evidence that the wounded economy lost considerable speed at the end of 2020.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Charles Regnier; Edited by Alex Richardson and Shounak Dasgupta)