Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: Avera St. Luke's Hospital as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases surge in Aberdeen, South Dakota
FILE PHOTO: Avera St. Luke's Hospital as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases surge in Aberdeen, South Dakota

(Reuters) - A potential breakthrough in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has left governments scrambling to meet the logistical challenge of distributing hundreds of millions of doses once it becomes available in coming months.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of COVID-19, open https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/ in an external browser.

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* The COVID-19 death toll in Europe was set to pass 300,000 and authorities feared that despite hopes for a new vaccine, fatalities and infections would continue to rise.

* The European Commission will discuss the adoption of a contract for the supply of the vaccine being developed by Pfizer <PFE.N> and BioNTech <22UAy.DE>.

* A criminal investigation into whether the public officials who orchestrated France's response to the COVID-19 crisis committed offences including manslaughter and endangering lives will be split into four inquiries.

* Spain will get the first vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in early 2021, while Italy expects to receive an initial 3.4 mln shots in January.

* Poland will conduct coronavirus tests among its farmed minks and check whether farm workers and their families have been infected, following the findings of a mutated virus among the animals in Denmark.

* Ireland will ease travel curbs for arrivals from "red" regions of Britain and the European Union hardest hit by COVID-19 from Nov. 29.

AMERICAS

* If Pfizer Inc submits the positive initial data from its COVID-19 vaccine trial to health regulators as quickly as expected, the U.S. government plans to begin vaccinating Americans in December, Health Secretary Alex Azar said.

* Several U.S. states imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus as hospitalizations soared.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged premiers of the country's 10 provinces to take stricter measures to fight a second wave of the new coronavirus.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Australia is considering opening its borders to Asian countries, including parts of China.

* Nepal will provide free COVID-19 tests and treatment, an aide to the prime minister said.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Lebanon ordered a full lockdown for around two weeks to stem rising infections and allow a badly strained health sector to bolster capacity.

* Botswana signed an agreement with the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the WHO, giving it the option to buy coronavirus vaccines for 20% of its population.

* Iran plans to more than double the number of tests it carries out daily to 100,000.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The severe adverse event which caused the Brazilian health regulator to suspend trials of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac <SVA.O> was a suicide, broadcaster TV Cultura reported.

* The World Health Organization's chief said it hopes to have a COVID-19 vaccine by year-end and that Pfizer's experimental remedy is "a very promising one", with more expected.

* BioNTech is planning to price the two-shot vaccination regimen below "typical market rates" and would differentiate pricing between countries or regions.

* Johnson & Johnson's <JNJ.N> Janssen unit has received the green light to carry out late stage trials for its coronavirus vaccine in Mexico.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* The S&P 500 posted a modest loss and the Nasdaq closed sharply lower as news of an effective COVID-19 vaccine led investors away from market leaders and toward cyclical stocks associated with economic recovery.

* An apparent breakthrough in a coronavirus vaccine weakens the case for another large U.S. fiscal stimulus bill, but relief is still needed for struggling businesses to create a bridge for the economy, investors said.

(Compiled by Aditya Soni, Anita Kobylinska and Milla Nissi; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Arun Koyyur)