UK prepares to roll out Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine

Government ordered 40 million doses – enough to vaccinate 20 million people out of a total population of 67 million.

Medical staff train to administer the vaccine in the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at University Hospital in Coventry, England [Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP]
  • The UK is preparing to become the first country to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, initially making the shot available at hospitals before distributing stocks to the doctors’ clinics.
  • For the third day in a row, the US saw a record number of cases, with nearly 230,000 new infections on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • Globally, more than 1.5 million people have died due to COVID-19, while 42 million people have recovered from it.

Here are the latest updates:


UK regulator who approved COVID jab says ‘we are ready’ for no-deal Brexit

The head of Britain’s medicines regulator asked whether the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out risked being disrupted if the UK and the European Union fail to reach a trade deal before the end of the Brexit transition period, said: “We are ready.”

“We’ve practised, we are ready, we are fully prepared for any possible outcome,” said June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), on BBC television.

The MHRA approved the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 on December 2 and roll-out is scheduled to begin in the coming days. The Brexit transition period ends on December 31.

COVID-19 hits England cricket tour of South Africa

Two members of England cricket’s touring party in South Africa have tested positive for COVID-19 and the re-scheduled first one-day international was cancelled.

The match in Paarl was to have opened the series after Friday’s scheduled first match in Cape Town was scrapped just before play was to begin after a South African player tested positive for coronavirus.

Cricket South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a joint statement that two members of England’s touring party had now tested positive for the virus, although further tests were required.

Indonesia minister arrested over pandemic aid corruption

Indonesia’s social affairs minister has been arrested for allegedly taking $1.2m in bribes linked to food aid for those hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Juliari Batubara was named as a suspect after Indonesian anti-corruption agents seized suitcases, backpacks and envelopes stuffed with cash equivalent to $1.2m in a sting operation on Saturday.

Read more here.



Russia reports record 29,039 new COVID-19 cases

Russia has reported a record high of 29,039 new cases, taking the national total to 2,460,770 since the pandemic began.

Authorities confirmed 457 deaths related to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, pushing the official national death toll to 43,141.

‘Millionaire’s tax’ for virus relief passes Argentina Senate

Argentina’s Senate has passed a tax on about 12,000 of the country’s richest people, to pay for coronavirus measures including medical supplies and relief for the poor and small businesses.

In a session streamed live on YouTube, and after a long and polarising debate, the so-called solidarity contribution was signed into law with 42 votes in favour and 26 against, as the pro-government alliance flexed its majority.

Read more here.

Germany confirms coronavirus cases rise by 17,767

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany have increased by 17,767 to 1,171,323, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 255 to 18,772, the tally showed.

People queue to get a swab test on the novel coronavirus outside the KitKatClub night club in Berlin [Tobias Schwarz / AFP]

UK prepares to roll out COVID-19 vaccine

The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are set to be administered on Tuesday, with the National Health Service (NHS) giving top priority to vaccinating those over 80, front-line healthcare workers and care home staff and residents.

The UK granted emergency-use approval for the vaccine on Wednesday, the first country to do so. In total, the government ordered 40 million doses – enough to vaccinate 20 million people in the country of 67 million people.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will receive the vaccine within weeks, the Mail on Sunday reported. The monarch, 94, and her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip are in line to get the jab early due to their age and not receive preferential treatment, the report said.


China prepares large-scale roll-out of vaccines

Provincial governments across China are placing orders for experimental, domestically-made coronavirus vaccines, though health officials have yet to say how well they work or how they will be delivered to the country’s 1.4 billion people.

China’s pharmaceutical industry is testing at least five vaccines from four producers in more than a dozen countries including Russia, Egypt and Mexico.

Meanwhile, mainland China has reported 18 new COVID-19 cases, up from 17 on Saturday, the national health authority said. New asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to two from 12 a day earlier. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China stands at 86,619 to date, while the death toll is 4,634.

S Korea tightens social distancing rules: Report

South Korea’s government has tightened physical distancing requirements in the capital Seoul, Yonhap news agency said, as the country grapples with the highest coronavirus infections in nine months.

South Korea has reported 631 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total tally to 37,546, with 545 deaths.

South Korea grapples with the highest coronavirus infections in nine months [File:Heo Ran/Reuters]

Australian state eases restrictions for ‘COVID safe’ summer

Australia’s Victoria state has eased restrictions after the country’s pandemic hotspot recorded 37 days without any new coronavirus infections, moving towards a “COVID-safe” holiday season.

From midnight on Sunday, up to 100 people will be able to attend public gatherings such as weddings, with density rules of one person per two square metres remaining in place, while 50 percent of office workers will be able to return to workplaces by January 11, up from 25 percent now, the state’s premier said.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies