Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus

·2-min read

At least four drug companies expect their COVID-19 vaccines to be effective against the new virus variant spreading fast in Britain.

EUROPE

* In England, angry truck drivers briefly scuffled with police on the streets of Dover as a border closure by France meant to stop the spread of a new highly infectious coronavirus strain left thousands stranded before Christmas.

* The Czech Republic will close non-essential shops, services and ski lifts, and enforce a stricter curfew from Sunday.

* British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a new, potentially more infectious variant of coronavirus has been found in Britain in cases linked to South Africa.

* Around 500 relatives of people who died from COVID-19 in Italy said they were initiating legal action against regional and national authorities, seeking 100 million euros ($A161 million) in damages.

* The British government said huge swathes of England would be placed under its most confining restrictions as a highly infectious virus strain sweeps the country.

AMERICAS

* The US faced the prospect of a year-end government shutdown during a raging pandemic after outgoing President Donald Trump threatened not to sign a $US2.3 trillion ($A3 trillion) package that includes government funding and coronavirus aid.

* The US government will pay Pfizer Inc nearly $US2 billion ($A2.6b) for 100 million additional doses of its vaccine to bolster its supply.

* Merck & Co said it would supply about 60,000-100,000 doses of its experimental treatment to the US government for up to about $US356m ($A470m).

* Canada approved Moderna Inc's coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for up to 168,000 doses to be delivered by the end of the year.

* Mexico's government said it will begin vaccinations on Thursday, starting with healthcare workers.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Taiwan's EVA Airways Corp sacked a New Zealand pilot whom the government has blamed for the island's first locally transmitted case since April 12 because he failed to follow disease prevention rules.

* Malaysia is in talks to buy 6.4 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and wants to increase its purchases from US drugmaker Pfizer-BioNTech.

* South Korea reported its second-highest daily tally of cases as a survey underscored growing public dissatisfaction with President Moon Jae-in's handling of the latest wave of infections.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Dubai will start inoculating people with the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech for free from Wednesday.

* Israel has detected four cases of the new, highly infectious variant that has emerged in Britain.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc told Reuters its vaccine should be effective against the new coronavirus variant, adding that studies were under way to fully probe the impact of the mutation.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Stocks rose as investors waved away a threat by Donald Trump not to sign a pandemic relief bill, while the British pound soared on rising expectations of a Brexit trade deal.

GLOBAL

CASES: 78.3 MILLION

RECOVERED: 44.2 MILLION

DEATHS: 1.72 MILLION