With Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll, the United Kingdom has been under a national shutdown since January 5.
Britain’s government hopes it can meet its target for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and be able to consider easing lockdown restrictions by March, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab says.
The coronavirus pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down globally, with infections surging past 94 million and more than two million deaths, with Europe among the hardest-hit parts of the world.
On Saturday, the number of infections in the United States – the worst-affected country – soared to more than 23.7 million with close to 400,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
In India, a COVID-19 vaccination drive had a successful start with more than 190,000 people receiving their first jabs and no one hospitalised for major side effects.
Here are the latest updates:
Pakistan approves Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
Pakistan’s planning minister says the country’s drug regulatory authority has approved the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and the government is trying to make it available by the first quarter of the year.
Asad Umar, who is also head of the national agency for COVID-19, told a local news station Geo TV the vaccine in the first phase will be administered to health workers and those aged 65 and above.
Umar said the Chinese company CanSino is also holding clinical trials in Pakistan and hoped its vaccine would also be registered next month.
Pfizer reassures Europe over coronavirus vaccines as pandemic surges
Pharma giant Pfizer tried to ease concerns in Europe about deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine.
Worries have grown that delays in the delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech shots could hamper a European vaccine rollout which has already faced heavy criticism across the continent.
Work is ongoing at the Pfizer plant in Belgium to increase capacity, and the firm and its German partner BioNTech said Saturday it would allow them to “significantly” scale up vaccine production in the second quarter.
UK hopes it can meet its target for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines
UK, which has Europe’s highest COVID-19 death toll, has been under a national lockdown since January 5, when schools were closed for most pupils, non-essential businesses were shut to the public, and people were ordered to work from home where possible.
“What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News television.
“By early spring, hopefully by March, we’ll be in a position to make those decisions. I think it’s right to say we won’t do it all in one big bang. As we phase out the national lockdown, I think we’ll end up phasing through a tiered approach.”
Chinese city reports coronavirus on ice cream
The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch.
The Daqiaodao Food Co, Ltd in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for coronavirus, a city government statement said. There was no indication anyone had contracted the virus from the ice cream.
Most of the 29,000 cartons in the batch had yet to be sold. The government said 390 sold in Tianjin were being tracked down and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas.