BERLIN: Germany, once a beacon of hope in Europe’s coronavirus nightmare, logged its one millionth case on Friday, as Russia announced a partnership with India to mass produce its controversial Sputnik vaccine.

Like much of Europe, Germany is battling a resurgence of a pandemic that is filling hospitals and forcing countries to shut down for business while they wait for help from a clutch of vaccines that could start rolling out for use next month.

Some of the excitement about the new jabs dampened when Britain’s pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca admitted that further research was needed after a mixup in its third-stage trial. But Russia unexpectedly stepped in with an announcement that an Indian generic drug maker would start producing 100 million doses of its government-backed vaccine in early 2021.

Germany had largely contained the spread when the virus descended on Europe from China at the start of the year after first emerging in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Yet its careful approach failed to avert a second wave, imperilling the health of Europe’s biggest economy and dampening the mood heading into the winter holidays.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute recorded more than 22,000 new daily cases on Friday, pushing the country’s total beyond the one million mark.

More worryingly, number of patients in intensive care soared from around 360 in early October to more than 3,500 last week. It has shuttered restaurants, bars, sporting facilities and cultural venues, though schools and shops remain open.

Globally, more than 1.4 million deaths and nearly 61 million infections have been recorded, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.

Most countries hope to ease their virus rules for Christmas and New Year, allowing families a respite before bracing for what the world hopes is one last wave of restrictions until the new vaccines kick in.

Russia’s proposed solution for the global health crisis has been shrouded in mystery and speculation. It became the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine in August, long before the candidate had undergone large-scale clinical trials.

Russia said this week that interim results showed Sputnik V — named after the pioneering Soviet satellite — was 95 percent effective, although crucial phase three trials are still underway.

The importance of these large trials was underscored when AstraZeneca admitted that its candidate — developed jointly with the University of Oxford — proved to be most effective when younger people were given half a dose by mistake.

“We need to do an additional study,” AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot told Bloomberg. One person not taking any of the vaccines approaching approval is Brazil’s populist President , who caught the virus after playing down its impact and refusing to wear a mask.

“I’m telling you, I won’t take it,” he said in a video posted to social media. “It is my right.” In the meantime much of the world faces a gloomy winter dampened by lockdowns, economic anxiety and mental strain.

Bulgaria allowed its stores to enjoy one last spurt of business on Black Friday — usually the day shops are packed with people looking for holiday deals — before closing almost everything for three weeks shortly before midnight.

“People have only just started returning in the past three days and now we’ll be shutting down for three weeks,” one Sofia restaurant owner lamented. The mood was just as sour in the West Bank, where police in face masks set up road blocks on the first day of new restrictions that included weekend curfews.

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