(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
FDA panel sets stage for Moderna vaccine authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will “rapidly” work towards granting emergency approval of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Thursday.
A panel of outside advisers to the FDA overwhelmingly endorsed the emergency use of Moderna’s vaccine, virtually assuring a second option for protecting against COVID-19.
Sydney virus cluster grows
Christmas travel plans for thousands of Australians were thrown into chaos on Friday when states and territories imposed border restrictions after 28 COVID-19 cases were detected in Sydney, with fears infections could spread citywide.
Around a quarter of a million people in Sydney’s northern beaches, where the cases have been found, have been told to stay home and wear masks if in other venues.
“Everyone in greater Sydney needs to be on high alert,” New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a news conference on Friday in announcing 10 new cases.
No post-pandemic normal in France before autumn 2021
France is unlikely to return to normal life before autumn next year as it could take longer than initially envisioned to roll out vaccines, a senior government scientific adviser said on Friday.
“Vaccines are a major source of hope but if you look at the vaccination capabilities that we will have in France and elsewhere in Europe, we will need time,” immunologist Jean-François Delfraissy told BFM television.
Delfraissy estimated there were 22 million people in France more vulnerable than others and that it could take until May to vaccinate them all, before shots could be rolled out to others.
New English lockdown can’t be ruled out, minister suggests
A new national lockdown in England cannot be ruled out after Christmas, British schools minister Nick Gibb said on Friday, although he stressed that the current regional “tiered” system of restrictions was effective.
Northern Ireland and Wales have both outlined plans to head back into lockdown after Christmas, raising suggestions that England might follow suit.
Gibb told Sky News that “nothing is ruled out of course as we tackle this pandemic” but added that the tier system is very effective.
Six South Koreans die of COVID awaiting hospital beds
Six people suffering from COVID-19 have died in South Korea this month while waiting for hospital beds and hundreds can not get admitted as surging infections overload the health system, officials and media said on Friday.
South Korea reported 1,062 new cases on Friday, its second-highest ever daily tally, as the government agonised over tighter restrictions and warned businesses it was unacceptable to try to dodge shut-down orders.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Frances Kerry)