Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus – Dec 14, 2020

Dec 14 (Reuters) – The first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States moved to distribution points around the country, while the EU weighed donating 5% of its COVID-19 vaccines to poorer nations.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of COVID-19, open https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/ in an external browser.

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* The European Union could donate 5% of the COVID-19 vaccines it has secured to poorer nations, an internal document showed, a move that risks undercutting a distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization.

* Ireland may need to reimpose some restrictions in January, its prime minister said, after health chiefs said cases may be rising again following the reopening of most of the economy.

* Germany is likely to avert another recession despite a second national lockdown due to start on Wednesday, its economy minister said.

AMERICAS

* U.S. President suggested that senior White House officials would wait longer for COVID-19 vaccines hours after media outlets reported they were to receive doses within 10 days.

* U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn defended the FDA’s process for approving Pfizer’s vaccine on Sunday and denied claims by Trump that the vaccine could have been available a week sooner.

* Brazilian President ’s approval rating remains at its highest level since he took office, a poll showed, while the Supreme Court gave the government 48 hours to set a date for a national vaccination plan.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* South Korea ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas as it battles its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

* Malaysia’s Top Glove, the world’s biggest maker of medical-grade latex gloves, has seen its complex become the country’s biggest coronavirus cluster, months after it fired a whistleblower who photographed factory crowding.

* Singapore has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for pandemic use and expects delivery of the first shots by the end of December, its prime minister said.

* The Philippines aims to finalise negotiations with Sinovac Biotech this week to acquire 25 million doses of its vaccine for delivery by March.

* Japan may further restrict a much-criticized travel subsidy programme, while the country selected a kanji character used to encourage social distancing as its defining symbol for 2020.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Eswatini Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, who tested positive for COVID-19 four weeks ago, has died at age 52 after being hospitalised in neighbouring South Africa.

* Nigeria’s army headquarters was isolating due to a COVID-19 outbreak during an annual conference, a spokesman said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* German biotech firm CureVac said it enrolled the first participant for a Phase 2b/3 clinical trial of its vaccine candidate.

* A single-patient study by British scientists found that Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir could be highly effective, raising questions about previous studies.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Stocks began the week with robust gains as investors gauged the chance of added U.S. fiscal and monetary stimulus, while the British pound rose as a last-gasp extension to Brexit talks dodged a difficult divorce.

* World Trade Organization negotiators have failed to reach a deal by a year-end deadline to cut subsidies that lead to overfishing, the chairman of the talks said, citing delays linked to COVID-19.

* Japan’s cabinet is set to endorse on Tuesday a third extra budget, with spending of around $185 billion to fund a new stimulus package, a draft document seen by Reuters showed.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Aditya Soni and Devika Syamnath; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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