What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·3-min read
Mass testing on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Vienna

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

U.N. chief pans countries who ignored facts

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday decried countries - without naming any - who rejected facts about the pandemic and ignored guidance from the World Health Organization.

Guterres addressed a special session of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on COVID-19. Dozens of world leaders have submitted pre-recorded video statements for the two-day meeting.

"From the start, the World Health Organization provided factual information and scientific guidance that should have been the basis for a coordinated global response," Guterres said.

Biden says he'll publicly get a vaccine

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday he would publicly take a vaccine to demonstrate its safety to the public and pledged to retain the nation's top adviser on the pandemic, Anthony Fauci, when he takes office next month.

"People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work," Biden told CNN in an interview that aired on Thursday.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, met with Biden's advisers on the pandemic earlier in the day.

The United States set single-day records for new infections and deaths on Thursday as California's governor said he would impose some of the nation's strictest stay-at-home orders in the coming days, when intensive care units are expected to reach capacity.

'Seoul stops at 9 p.m'

South Korea's capital, Seoul, on Friday announced unprecedented restrictions shuttering most establishments and shops at 9 p.m. and cutting back public transportation operations by 30% in the evenings, as daily cases hit a nine-month high.

Calling the surge in cases "a dire crisis," health authorities urged South Koreans to cancel Christmas and New Year parties, while President Moon Jae-in tapped an experienced pandemic fighter as his next health minister.

"Seoul stops at 9 p.m. starting tomorrow," acting Seoul mayor Seo Jeong-hyup told a news conference.

Clover says its vaccines trigger strong immune responses

Two vaccine candidates developed by China's Clover Biopharmaceuticals triggered strong immune responses in an early-stage human trial and appeared to be safe, the company said on Friday.

"Based on the positive Phase 1 results reported and the unprecedented need for COVID-19 vaccines, Clover and its partners are confident to enter late-stage clinical development for both adjuvanted vaccines," the company said.

Preliminary results showed that both candidates could be stored at temperatures of 2C to 8C (35.6F to 46.4F) for at least six months.

Moscow launches online registration for vaccination

Moscow launched an online service on Friday for people to book appointments to be vaccinated, two days after President Vladimir Putin called for large-scale vaccinations.

Sputnik V, one of two Russian-made vaccines to have received regulatory approval in Russia despite clinical trials being incomplete, requires two injections. Interim trials showed it is 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19.

Ten vaccines are being developed in Russia.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Catherine Evans)