4 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 65 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1.5 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 14 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 276,366 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US president-elect Joe Biden has told CNN that it was his “inclination” that, on his inauguration, he would ask the public to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration to help drive down the spread of the virus. He also said that he would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit, following Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton’s pledges to do the same.

North Carolina reported a record 5,637 new infections and the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to “take personal responsibility” in following the state’s mask order and other health measures but warned of tighter restrictions. “Everything is on the table in weeks to come,” he told reporters, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

Texas logged its fourth straight day of 10,000-plus new virus cases, the longest such streak since the height of the state’s initial outbreak in July, state health department figures showed. The second-largest US state posted 13,857 new diagnoses, driving the cumulative total to 1.22 million.

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India: India’s daily coronavirus cases rose by less than 40,000 for the fifth straight day, health ministry data showed on Friday, with 36,595 new infections reported in the last 24 hours.

Italy: Italy reported a record number of daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday, surpassing March’s peak, as the government laid out a plan to restrict movements over the coming holiday season. New fatalities linked to the pandemic hit 993, ahead of 969 on 27 March. Some 23,225 new cases were recorded, down 20% from the same day last week.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer potent protection against coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, according to a letter from the researchers who conducted the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of antibodies produced to fight the infection dropped slowly over time, though they remained elevated and started to plateau three months after volunteers received the second injection.

The World Health Organization said it was considering introducing electronic vaccination certificates, as hopes for an end to the pandemic were boosted after Britain became the first country to approve use of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine available globally in the first quarter of 2021. The company said 85 million to 100 million of those doses would be available in the United States, with 15 million to 25 million available outside the country.

US: America’s leading infectious diseases scientist, Anthony Fauci,has apologised for implying that he thought Britain’s drug regulator had rushed through its coronavirus vaccine approval. His comments came a day after Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for general use, prompting some scepticism among European neighbours and suggestions of politicisation.

Costa Rica: Costa Rica has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE for the manufacture and delivery of three million Covid-19 vaccines next year, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said on Thursday.

Lockdown updates

South Korea: South Korea’s capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9pm each day, after South Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in nine months. Of the new cases, 295 were from capital Seoul alone.

Japan: Osaka prefectural government raised its virus alert to the highest level after a rise in serious cases put strain on its medical system. Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, at a news conference late Thursday, urged residents to stay home until 15 December.  Schools will remain open but bars and restaurants in certain districts are being asked to close early. Osaka reported 386 new cases Thursday; number of patients with serious conditions rose to 136, meaning two-thirds of hospital beds have been occupied, according to Kyodo.

US: Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory, halting in-person learning at schools, prohibiting winter sports competitions and requiring people to wear masks indoors if mixing with another household. The order runs from 14 December through 11 January.

South African: President Cyril Ramaphosareimposed several curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic in one of the nation’s biggest municipalities, which is battling a second wave of infections.

Economy updates

Philippines: Economic managers are pushing to further reopen the economy that’s forecast to shrink as much as 9.5% this year. The Philippines has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, even as daily cases have declined over the past days.