At least four drug companies expect their COVID-19 vaccines to be effective against the new virus variant spreading fast in Britain.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
CASES: 78.3 MILLION
RECOVERED: 44.2 MILLION
DEATHS: 1.72 MILLION