Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

·3-min read
A coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positive patient arrives to the emergency room of the COVID-19 unit, at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey

(Reuters) - Britain saw record-high COVID-19 deaths and Spain posted its biggest one-day jump in cases since October, while the head of the World Health Organization said there was a "clear problem" of low- and middle-income countries not yet receiving vaccine supplies.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * 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 European Union said it had secured nearly half of Pfizer's 2021 global output of vaccines, while a study found that this vaccine appears able to protect against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in Britain and South Africa.

* Germany has secured 50 million vaccine doses from German biotech firms BioNTech and CureVac on top of EU supplies, a document showed, amid record daily deaths and concerns about a new variant.

* All Danes will have received a second shot of a vaccine by late June and Denmark will restrict travel from all countries from Jan. 9.

* Greece extended some lockdown curbs until Jan. 18, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised briefing.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Beijing closed places of worship and authorities restricted access to a highway to Shijiazhuang, which is battling a new cluster of infections.

* Indonesian clerics deemed Sinovac's vaccine halal, or permissible under Islam.

* Bhutan reported its first COVID-19 death 10 months after initially detecting the virus.

AMERICAS

* President-elect Joe Biden wants to release more available doses of vaccines when he takes office, a spokesman said, as the United States capped the first week of the new year with grim pandemic numbers.

* Ontario is considering "more extreme measures" on top of the widespread lockdowns in place, the premier said.

* Argentina issued a decree empowering provinces to restrict nighttime activities, with authorities concerned about a new wave of cases being caused by Southern Hemisphere summer vacationers.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Iran's Supreme Leader banned the government from importing vaccines from the U.S. and Britain, as COVID-19 spread further in the Middle East's hardest-hit country.

* Saudi Arabia will lift a ban on international flights from March 31, the state news agency SPA said.

* South African scientists are testing whether vaccines will be less effective against a COVID-19 variant first detected locally and hope for initial results within two weeks, a professor at the national communicable disease institute said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The U.S. drugs regulator said genetic variants of COVID-19, including the one found in the UK, could lead to false negative results from some molecular COVID-19 tests, but the risk of the mutations affecting overall testing accuracy is low.

* Europe's medicines regulator expects drugmaker AstraZeneca to apply for approval of its vaccine next week.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* A global equities rally pushed the Nasdaq Composite index to a new record, while safe havens such as Treasuries and gold sold off as investors looked past U.S. political unrest and focused on further stimulus. [MKTS/GLOB]

* The U.S. economy shed jobs for the first time in eight months in December as the country buckled under an onslaught of COVID-19 infections.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Devika Syamnath; Edited by Gareth Jones and Shounak Dasgupta)