China’s health regulator has granted “conditional” approval for a COVID vaccine 12 months after the virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan. The vaccine, which has 79-percent efficacy, was developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
The US has logged its highest-ever daily COVID death toll as the world prepares to turn the page on a grim year defined by the pandemic.
New Year’s Eve marks one year since the WHO first mentioned a mysterious pneumonia in China later identified as COVID-19, which went on in 2020 to kill more than 1.79 million people and devastate the global economy in unprecedented ways.
International efforts helped develop vaccines in record time. On Wednesday the UK approved a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drug firm AstraZeneca, making it the third to win approval in the Western world, after the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Separately, pandemic restrictions are muting New Year celebrations for billions of people eager to bid virus-ridden 2020 farewell.
From Sydney to Rome, firework displays, pyre burnings and live performances will be watched online or on television – if they have not been cancelled altogether.
Here are the latest updates:
China grants ‘conditional’ approval to its first COVID vaccine
China has granted “conditional” market approval to a Sinopharm vaccine with a reported 79-percent efficacy, health authorities said on Thursday, a major stride towards inoculating the world’s largest population.
The Sinopharm jab, which surged ahead of a raft of Chinese competitors during phase-three trials, has an efficacy rate lower than rival jabs developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – with 95 and 94 percent rates respectively.
About 4.5 million doses of largely unproven emergency vaccines made domestically have already been given to health workers and other workers destined for overseas jobs, according to authorities.
China confirms first case of UK coronavirus variant
China has confirmed its first case of a new coronavirus, potentially faster-spreading, variant that was recently detected in Britain, health officials said.
The new strain prompted travel restrictions on the UK by more than 50 countries – including China. The first patient in China with the new variant is a 23-year-old woman from Shanghai who arrived from Britain on December 14, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control said in a research note published on Wednesday.
She showed mild symptoms and was hospitalised on arrival. Health experts conducted a genetic sequencing of her test samples on December 24 “due to travel history from the UK and abnormalities in nucleic acid test results”, the China CDC said.
Record COVID cases in Tokyo, heavy snow curtail New Year celebrations in Japan
New coronavirus infections in Tokyo have hit a record high of more than 1,300, raising fears of an explosion in cases, local media reported, and New Year’s Eve celebrations…