(Reuters) -Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Sanofi and GSK delay vaccine
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine showed an insufficient immune response in older people, delaying its launch to late next year.
The announcement on Friday, which highlighted the challenges of developing shots at record speed, hinders efforts to develop the multiple options that experts say the world needs.
The news, which came on the same day as Australia axed a domestic vaccine project, is also a blow for many governments that have booked hundreds of millions of doses of the shot, including the European Union, United States and Britain.
Russia reports record deaths
Russia reported on Friday its highest COVID-19 daily death tally a day after official data revealed a surge in excess deaths in October that made it Russia’s most deadly month in a decade.
Russia, which began vaccinating vulnerable people in Moscow on Saturday, has resisted imposing a strict lockdown as it did in the spring, relying on targeted measures instead, though the Kremlin says places like St Petersburg are nearing a “red line”.
Officials reported a record 613 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 45,893, a total some critics call into question, pointing to the significantly elevated number of excess deaths during the pandemic.
Americans get stern holiday warning
A top coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden delivered a stern holiday message to Americans on Thursday – “no Christmas parties” – and warned they face a COVID-19 siege for weeks to come despite the latest moves toward U.S. government approval of a vaccine.
“The next three to six weeks at minimum … are our COVID weeks,” Dr. Michael Osterholm told CNN. “It won’t end after that, but that is the period right now where we could have a surge upon a surge upon a surge.”
Osterholm stressed that it would be several months before the nation sees widespread availability of vaccines.
South Korea mobilises military
South Korea will mobilise military forces in the capital Seoul to help frontline health workers deal with a surge in coronavirus, with 689 new cases reported on Friday, and as the death toll and number of patients in critical care rose.
Of the new cases, 673 were locally transmitted, which brings the total tally to 40,786. The death toll increased by eight to 572 deaths.
The surge in cases has delivered a blow to South Korea’s vaunted pandemic-fighting system which successfully used invasive tracing, testing and quarantine to avoid lockdowns and blunt previous waves, and keep infections below 50 per day for much of the summer.
Germany braces for tougher lockdown
Germany will have to shut down more parts of society before Christmas to try and get the pandemic under control, ministers said on Friday, as Europe’s largest economy reported a record number of daily infections and deaths.
The government of the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of the 16 federal states would meet on Sunday to discuss new measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Germany registered a record number of nearly 30,000 daily new infections and almost 600 deaths, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Friday.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)