The coronavirus vaccination campaign was cut short in several German cities as doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
EU nations have kicked off a coordinated effort to give COVID-19 vaccinations to adults among their 450 million citizens, a moment of hope on the continent.
Meanwhile, fears grow over a new variant of the coronavirus that is spreading across the UK with Japan barring the entry of all non-resident foreign nationals as a precaution against the strain.
Thailand, meanwhile, is scrambling to contain a COVID outbreak connected to a seafood market in a southern province, and residents of Sydney – Australia’s largest city – are awaiting word on whether any public New Year’s Eve celebrations will be allowed.
Cold chain doubts delay COVID-19 vaccinations in some German cities
Germany’s coronavirus vaccination campaign faced delays in several cities on Sunday after medical staff found potential irregularities in the cooling of the shot produced by BioNTech and Pfizer .
“When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements”, the District Office of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany’s largest state Bavaria said in a statement.
The Pfizer vaccine, which uses new so-called mRNA technology, must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about -70 degrees Celsius (-112°F) to remain effective before being shipped to distribution centres.
Oman launches vaccination campaign
Oman started coronavirus vaccinations, two days ahead of plans to resume all flights and open borders that temporarily closed amid concerns over a new strain of the disease.
The sultanate – which has recorded the second highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia – is the last of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) to begin inoculating people.
Like most of its neighbours it has opted for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Iran reports the lowest daily deaths from coronavirus in more than three months
Iran has reported 119 deaths from the new coronavirus, the lowest daily fatalities in more than three months, the health ministry said.
Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state television that 5,502 people had been infected in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Middle East’s worst-affected country to 1,200,465.
Sunday’s death toll was the lowest since September 12 when it registered 116 deaths.
Dubai cuts 2021 budget as pandemic impacts economy
Dubai expects to cut its budget to $15.5bn in 2021 after its economy was impacted by a plunge in tourism and other sectors amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The emirate, one of the seven that make up the United Arab Emirates, had posted a record $18.1bn budget for 2020.
“The newly-announced budget takes into account the exceptional economic conditions of the fiscal year 2020 and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy,” said a statement by the Dubai Media Office.
Thai hospital banned from offering to sell COVID-19 vaccine
A private Thai hospital has been ordered to stop advance advertising of COVID-19 vaccinations for sale on the grounds that no vaccine is yet approved in Thailand.
Vibhavadi Hospital told Reuters its online offer for 1,000 initial reservations for the two-dose Moderna vaccine had been the result of a misunderstanding. With reservations priced at 4,000 baht, the total cost of getting vaccinated would have been 10,000 baht ($330).
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that no COVID-19 vaccine had been approved for use in Thailand yet and that advertising one violated hospital regulations. “The removal of the advertisement was ordered,” it said.
COVID-19 cases top 80 million worldwide
More than 80 million confirmed cases of coronavirus have been detected worldwide since the pandemic began a year ago and 1.76 million deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally
In total, 80,412,311 cases and 1,758,886 deaths have been recorded. Last week, an average of 580,000 new cases were registered every day.
Europe is the world’s hardest-hit region, passing the 25-million mark on Friday and with 546,000 deaths.
Beijing tightens COVID-19 curbs as cases detected across capital
Beijing has tightened COVID-19 curbs over concerns that China’s mass travel during the holiday period could cause a spike in the capital, as it reported locally transmitted cases for a fourth straight day on Sunday.
A meeting led by the capital’s Communist party boss, Cai Qi, urged all districts in Beijing to enter “emergency” mode, sealing off residential compounds and villages where infections are found.