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A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine sticker and a medical syringe in front of displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken, October 30, 2020.  - Sputnik International

COVID-19 Live Updates: Pfizer Announces Start of Immunization Pilot Program in Four US States

The global coronavirus tally has now surpassed 54 million, while the death toll has reached 1.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The most affected countries are the US (11 million infected, 246,000 deaths), India (8.8 million cases, 129,000 fatalities), and Brazil (5.8 million cases, and over 165,000 deaths).

A number of European countries have introduced lockdowns to curb the second wave of coronavirus, with quarantines imposed in France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Hungary, and Belgium. Italy, Spain, and other countries also introduced severe measures, including regional lockdowns and curfews.

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03:57 GMT 17.11.2020

TOKYO (Sputnik) - The authorities of South Korea's capital, Seoul, will raise the social distancing level amid a rise in new COVID-19 cases in and around the city, the Yonhap news agency reported.

"Antivirus efforts have faced a crisis," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters at the Seoul government complex. "Over the past week, the greater Seoul area had more than a hundred patients a day on average".

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), on Tuesday, the daily increase in COVID-19 infections was 230, and the total number of people with confirmed coronavirus rose to 28,999. The daily increase in infections above 200 has been observed in South Korea for the fourth day. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 494 people have died in the country, another 60 people are in serious or critical condition.

03:24 GMT 17.11.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada has topped 300,000, Health Canada reported.

According to the government health department, for the entire time of the pandemic, the number of people infected in the country totaled 302,192, with 11,027 deaths and more than 240,000 recoveries.

02:52 GMT 17.11.2020

Pfizer Inc said on Monday that it will be launching a pilot program for COVID-19 immunization in four US states - Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

"The four states included in this pilot program will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states by virtue of this pilot, nor will they receive any differential consideration," Pfizer said in a statement, cited by Reuters.

01:30 GMT 17.11.2020

VIENNA (Sputnik) - Austria starts the second tough lockdown due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, and the restrictions will be in effect until at least December 6.

The decision to take extreme measures was made amid a constantly increasing number of new cases, despite the "soft" lockdown in force since November 3. The Austrian authorities have expressed concern that at this pace, the health care system will not survive.

00:37 GMT 17.11.2020

TORONTO (Sputnik) - Canada is contributing $1.15 million towards fighting misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement at the conclusion of the Global Conference on Media Freedom.

"[Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe] Champagne … announced $1.5 million [$1.15 million USD] for the Lifeline Project to Tackle the COVID-19 Infodemic, a BBC Media Action project working with journalists in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Indonesia to create clear, fact-based COVID-19 content," the statement said on Monday.

00:34 GMT 17.11.2020

PRAGUE (Sputnik) - The Czech government decided on Monday, as a new measure in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, to limit the number of customers in stores from Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek told reporters.

“The government, at the suggestion of the Health Ministry, decided from Wednesday, November 18, to limit the number of customers simultaneously in stores calculated as 15 square meters of retail space per person, while store employees are not taken into account. A similar measure for regulating buyers is already in place in Slovakia, where it has proven successful,” Havlicek said.

Only stores selling food and household goods, as well as pharmacies, have continued to operate in the republic within the framework of the emergency situation regime in force over coronavirus since 5 October. In connection with tightening control over the number of buyers, the government simultaneously extended the work of stores from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., citizens are prohibited from going outside, except in emergency cases.

23:51 GMT 16.11.2020

BERLIN (Sputnik) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called data on the effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) good news.

Germany imposed a "soft" lockdown from 2 November until the end of the month, which, among other things, implies restrictions on catering establishments (only takeaway or delivery orders are possible), cancellation of entertainment events, and restriction of contacts. On Monday, Merkel discussed with the heads of German regions the situation with the COVID-19 spread in the country.

"We touched on the issue of vaccines. Today the good news came that the second vaccine from Moderna, like BionTech, has shown good results. Therefore, we must discuss together - the federal center and the states - the logistics of creating vaccination centers," Merkel said at a press conference following the meeting.

22:19 GMT 16.11.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - More that 1 million of children in the United States have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in a statement.

“As of 12 November, a total of 1,039,464 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic,” the AAP said on Monday. “In the one-week period ending 12 November, there were 111,946 new cases in children, which is substantially larger than any previous week in the pandemic.”

AAP President Sally Goza said they have not seen a virus flash through the communities in this way since before the vaccines for measles and polio were available.

Goza said the AAP is calling on the US government to immediately implement a new national strategy to reduce the spread of the virus and address other related issues.

In addition, Goza cited a national survey noting that 14 percent of parents reported worsening behavioral health of their children.

21:46 GMT 16.11.2020

TEHRAN (Sputnik) - Iran will introduce for the first time a curfew in cities worst affected by the coronavirus starting November 21, Alireza Raisi, a spokesman for the country's COVID-19 response center, said on Monday.

Last week, Iran introduced a new plan on COVID-19 response, which envisions dividing the country, according to the infection rate, into orange, yellow and red zones, and the introduction of different restrictions. Raisi specified that Tehran would be a red zone.

"This is the first time we are reporting this, but this has already been discussed earlier — this is a ban on movement in cities from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the 'red' regions of the country," Raisi said, as broadcast by IRINN.

The spokesman added that starting Friday, various activities will be suspended in 150 cities, including Tehran. In particular, in the "red" zones, almost all activities are banned, with the exception of the work of pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals and those places that meet the needs of the population.

21:45 GMT 16.11.2020

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the broadest stock indicator on the New York Stock Exchange, hit a record high on Monday and the US stock market as a whole rallied after Moderna reported on the progress in its coronavirus vaccine boosted for the second time in a week investors’ hopes of returning to a pre-pandemic normal.

The Dow settled up 1.6 percent at 29,950 after hitting an all-time high at 29,964. The rally came after Moderna said its experimental coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective. The update comes after Pfizer said last Monday that its own coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective.

The S&P 500, a barometer for the top 500 US stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, rose 1.2 percent to close at 3,628.

The Nasdaq Composite Index, which counts on the performance of US tech stock giants such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, finished the day up 0.8 percent at 11,924.

21:05 GMT 16.11.2020
20:13 GMT 16.11.2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that coronavirus-related restrictions will be tightened in 40 of the state's 58 counties due to a sharp rise in case numbers that has exceeded June's peak rate.

18:47 GMT 16.11.2020
18:35 GMT 16.11.2020

The US state of New Mexico has re-imposed the strictest public health restrictions in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, including for residents to shelter in place, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement on Monday.

"Beginning Monday, for two weeks, New Mexico will re-enact the most heightened level of statewide public health restrictions," Grisham said.

The governor said she has instructed New Mexico residents to shelter in place with the exception of going out only on "essential" trips and avoid contacts outside their immediate household.

Grisham said those businesses that have been deemed by the authorities to be essential may operate at limited occupancy, while other entities must fully stop in-person activities.

Restaurants and bars are allowed to provide curbside services and delivery, but are prohibited to provide inside dining, she also said.

"We face a life-or-death situation and we cannot fail to act," Grisham added.

18:34 GMT 16.11.2020

Republican congressman Tim Walberg on Monday said he tested positive for COVID-19 but his symptoms are mild.

"I received news yesterday that I tested positive for COVID-19," Walberg, who represents the state of Michigan, said. "My symptoms are mild, and I remain in good spirits."

Walberg said he is self-isolating and reaching out to individuals he recently had contact with. He said he will discharge his responsibilities from home until fully recovered.

The lawmaker said he had not attended any public events in more than a week.

16:43 GMT 16.11.2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) will wait to receive the final safety and efficacy data from US biotech firm Moderna regarding its vaccine against the coronavirus disease, the organization's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said on Monday.

"Of course, we need to wait and see what the final efficacy and the safety profile of this vaccine will be when the whole data is analyzed after they reach their primary endpoint and also have enough follow-up of at least two months of half the trial participants for the side effects," Swaminathan told a virtual press briefing.

14:37 GMT 16.11.2020
14:36 GMT 16.11.2020

Lebanon has signed two agreements with foreign pharmaceutical companies on the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and would be among the first states to receive them in the first quarter of 2021, Health Minister Hamad Hassan said on Monday.

"Lebanon has signed two agreements: the first is on the COVAX platform to provide 1.2 million people [with a vaccine], the second one – with Pfizer for around a million people. The signing of these two deals is an achievement for Lebanon, which will receive, among the first countries, vaccines against the coronavirus in the first quarter of the next year," Hassan told Lebanon's NBN broadcaster.

The minister pointed out that the health ministry has requested the Lebanese central bank to allocate funds for additional flu shots, with Beirut expecting the delivery of 300,000 doses in November. The ministry will be accountable for the distribution of vaccines, and children, the elderly people, and citizens of a high-risk group, will be given priority to be immunized.

14:25 GMT 16.11.2020
13:25 GMT 16.11.2020

Malaysia hopes to soon receive the best COVID-19 vaccines developed across the world, including the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, and start vaccinating the population in the first and second quarters of 2021, Malaysian Health Minister Adham Baba said on Monday.

Malaysia is currently considering 10 leading vaccine candidates that had completed phase 3 clinical trials and is engaged in talks with the producers.

"We are confident that there are many more leading candidates in the world like Gamaleya Research Institute whose vaccine [Sputnik V] has also undergone the third phase of clinical tests which we see as a good opportunity too in providing vaccines to our own people," Baba said, as cited by the national BERNAMA news agency.

The minister also said that German biotechnology firm BioNTech and US pharmaceutical company Pfizer reported a successful third phase of clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Another candidate is the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China, which is yet to declare the results of phase 3 clinical trials, the minister said, adding that Malaysia is still in talks with the producer.

"However, the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for our country will depend on careful considerations with regard to the quality, safety, implications and registration of these vaccines by the producing countries," the minister added.

12:55 GMT 16.11.2020

ALMATY (Sputnik) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Monday he had reached an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin on building in Kazakhstan a plant where the Russian vaccine against COVID-19 would be produced.

"I have reached an agreement with the Russian president to build a plant for producing the Russian vaccine [in Kazakhstan]. The government is already in negotiations on raising investment for this important project", Tokayev said at a meeting on countering the coronavirus infection, as quoted by his press service.

On November 11, Tokayev and Putin held a phone conversation on boosting cooperation against the pandemic. According to the Kremlin, they discussed plan to launch joint vaccine production in Kazakhstan.

12:51 GMT 16.11.2020
12:49 GMT 16.11.2020
12:34 GMT 16.11.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - French authorities will implement a health protocol for non-alimentary shops shut due to the coronavirus lockdown, provided that the epidemiological situation allows for their openings, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday on the CNEWS broadcaster.

"We are working on a health protocol for all shops and retailers... It is due to be concluded on Friday and be operational next Monday," Le Maire said.

He specified that during the next week, the authorities are due to listen to all federations and "find the best solutions" to advance the resumption of businesses with necessary sanitary regulations in terms of the pandemic.

France has been hit with another outbreak of the coronavirus, with daily numbers of infections sharply rising in October, forcing the government to introduce a nationwide lockdown. While the number of nearly 87,000 new cases registered on November 7 remains the record high in the country ever since the pandemic occurred, the health authorities have been reporting a positive trend over last days, confirming a decline in the virus infection rate. Nonetheless, the government has called on the population to remain cautious.

As of Monday, France has confirmed 1,915,713 coronavirus infections, with a death toll of 42,601.

12:06 GMT 16.11.2020

Moderna has announced that early results from a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine with more than 30,000 participants have proved it to be 94.5% effective, the company's CEO Stephane Bancel said, as quoted by AFP.

"This first interim analysis was based on 95 cases, of which 90 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 5 cases observed in the mRNA-1273 group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 94.5%," Moderna said in the press release.

11:57 GMT 16.11.2020

Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech announced on Monday the start of Phase III trials of the COVAXIN vaccine against COVID-19.

"Bharat Biotech has announced commencement of Phase III trials of COVAXIN today. The Phase III trials will involve 26,000 volunteers across 25 centres in India, being conducted in partnership with ICMR [Indian Council of Medical Research]. It is the largest clinical trial conducted for a COVID-19 vaccine in India," the company said in a press release.

The trial has been approved by India's chief agency for drugs control.

According to Bharat Biotech, the volunteers taking part in the Phase III trials will be monitored during a year. The volunteers (all of them should be aged over 18) will receive two injections of the vaccine "approximately 28 days apart."

10:46 GMT 16.11.2020
10:39 GMT 16.11.2020

Greek Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos went into self-isolation after coming into contact with an aide who had tested positive for COVID-19, media reported Monday.

According to Greek outlet Kathimerini, the minister had tested negative over the weekend but is set to undergo a fresh test later Monday.

This throws Theodorikakos’ schedule into uncertainty as he had planned to submit a labor reform bill to parliament Tuesday.

This comes the same day as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson begins his self-isolation after meeting a parliamentarian who also contracted the virus.

10:35 GMT 16.11.2020

Starting Tuesday, the Australian state of South Australia will be enforcing new restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19, which will last for about two weeks, Premier Steven Marshall said Monday.

Earlier in the day, the state reported a spike in new cases hitting 18, a considerable deviation from the usual dynamics of 1-5 daily increases.

The head of state government attached a note, outlining temporary limitations, such as caps on numbers of people at various public events to 100 or 50 as well as the closure of gyms and recreation centers. All gatherings that are still allowed will be expected to follow the one-person-per-4 square mile rule. The expected duration of the measures is two weeks.

On Facebook, Marshall also mentioned that schools would remain open, while also advising to avoid receiving visitors at home and travelling.

South Australia has confirmed a total of 544 cases, including four fatalities.

10:25 GMT 16.11.2020
10:12 GMT 16.11.2020
10:11 GMT 16.11.2020

Cuba has reopened Jose Marti international airport in Havana after its closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic and introduced a sanitary fee for passengers.

According to the Cuban company of airports and airport services (ECASA), Jose Martin international airport resumed commercial and charter flights with the arrival of Swiftair airline on Sunday.

As the official gazette of the Cuban justice ministry reports, Cuba also introduced a sanitary fee for entering travellers. All air carriers or shipping companies will pay a fee for their passengers and crew through the airport, port and maritime operators as well as shipping agents.

The sanitary fee will amount to $30 or its equivalent in any freely convertible currency.

The regulation concerning the introduction of fees will take effect on December 1. Crew aircraft and ships members will be exempted from paying of a sanitary fee if they remain on the territory of the country for less than 24 hours.

10:04 GMT 16.11.2020

The Russian public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor issued a decree on Monday altering the regulations of when can a COVID-19 patient be discharged from a hospital and how soon the self-isolation should end for people who had contact with a coronavirus-positive person.

According to a decree signed by Rospotrebnadzor chief Anna Popova, as published on the Russian government's portal of legal news, a COVID-19 patient can now be discharged from a hospital after receiving one negative test result rather than two.

"Discharge of patients for employment (studies), admission to organized teams after treatment (both in inpatient and outpatient settings) and recovery are carried out upon receipt of one negative laboratory test result by the polymerase chain reaction method for the presence of the COVID-19 pathogen," the decree read.

If however, the first test comes back positive, the second one can be conducted no sooner than in three days, Popova said.

Hospitalized patients can be let spend the treatment period at home unless they live in shared apartments, hotels and dorms, according to the decree.

Persons who had contact with infected individuals will no longer be required to get tested themselves under two conditions.

"Discharge of contact persons who displayed no clinical symptoms throughout the entire period of medical surveillance occurs 14 days after the latest contact with the COVID-19 patient with no COVID-19 laboratory test required," the decree read.

 As of Monday, Russia reported a cumulative total of over 1.9 million coronavirus cases, including 33,489 deaths and over 1.4 million recoveries.

10:01 GMT 16.11.2020
09:52 GMT 16.11.2020

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and heads of the federated states are holding a video-conference on Monday to discuss additional coronavirus restrictions amid a surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

New measures may include compulsory mask-wearing at schools and tougher restrictions on household gatherings.

09:47 GMT 16.11.2020

The government of the national capital territory of Delhi has ruled out re-imposition of lockdown even as coronavirus cases have witnessed a sharp rebound in the past few weeks.

Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain has said lockdown will not be an "effective" step.

09:46 GMT 16.11.2020

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi is planning to make its COVID-19 vaccine available by June 2021, the company’s CEO in France, Olivier Bogillot, told the CNEWS media outlet.

Bogillot confirmed that the results of the ongoing second phase of clinical trials of the Sanofi vaccine are "convincing," adding that the company is considering the possibility of launching both the third phase of the trials and production of the vaccine in December. In case the third phase, which is scheduled to end in May, proves inconclusive, Bogillot explained, the company believes it would be able to launch the sales of the doses in June.

Last week, German biotechnology firm BioNTech and US pharmaceutical company Pfizer reported a successful third phase of clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine, saying it was proved to be 90 percent effective. However, storage of the vaccine is carried out at a temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius, which health experts considered to be problematic due to warm climate in some parts of the world.

Bogillot clarified that the vaccine against the coronavirus disease would be eligible to be stored in the fridge, like those against the flu. He also said that some issues, including the number of injections and the necessity of the annual vaccinations are yet to be resolved.

Sanofi develops the COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with UK’s pharmaceutical company GSK. It is a combined product of the recombinant protein-based technology used by Sanofi for an influenza vaccine, and GSK’s established pandemic adjuvant technology.

09:11 GMT 16.11.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) President Rik Daems has cut short his visit to Russia due to possible contact with a COVID-19-positive person, a source in PACE told Sputnik on Monday.

The source confirmed this information when asked to comment on relevant media reports. A source in the Russian parliament also confirmed the information to Sputnik.

Daems was set to hold talks with the speakers of both chambers of the Russian parliament and the Russian human rights commissioner during a two-day visit.

The source in PACE specified that the suspect infected individual was a Russian parliament official with whom Daems has already had a chance to meet. According to the source, the PACE president consulted with the Russian colleagues and decided that he would return to Russia later in December.

The press service of the Russian parliament's upper house said earlier in the day that Daems's meeting with the house chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko on Monday had been canceled.

09:10 GMT 16.11.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Health authorities of the Chinese city of Xi'an, located in the northwestern Shaanxi province, found the coronavirus in a package of imported frozen pork, media in China have reported.

According to the Xinhua news agency, citing the Xi'an epidemic prevention and control headquarters, the virus was detected in one of the samples during a routine inspection.

The sample was sealed and prevented from entering the market, while the facility where the inspection had been carried out was disinfected, the authorities were cited as saying.

All 18 individuals in Xi'an who had contact with the contaminated pork reportedly underwent COVID-19 tests and tested negative.

08:08 GMT 16.11.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Governors of US states of Washington in the northwest and Michigan in northeast have imposed new severe restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with the focus specifically on indoor gathering recommendations.

Announcing the new restrictions in a press release, Washington Governor Jay Inslee cited a statistical graph showing that the state kept "setting new case-per-day records" and said that "this spike puts us in a more dangerous a position as we were in March."

"Today is the most dangerous public health day in the last 100 years of our state’s history. A pandemic is raging in Washington. Today, we are taking action to stop it," Inslee said on Twitter.

The new set of restrictions includes a ban on social gatherings — including indoors — with people from other households unless all participants of the meeting quarantine for 14 days prior to it or for 7 days if they receive a negative test result 48 hours prior to it.

Religious services will be limited to 25 percent indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. Retail, grocery stores and personal services will also be limited to 25 percent of occupancy. Restaurants and bars will be closed for indoor services.

The Washington restrictions take effect at 11:59 p.m. of Monday (07:59 Tuesday GMT) until December 14. There is a different start point for food businesses, from Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an emergency order, specifying that it was not a "blanket stay-home action like in the spring," but rather aimed at "limiting residential and non-residential gatherings where COVID-19 spreads rapidly."

The Michigan restrictions will remain in effect for three weeks, beginning from Wednesday.

The set of restrictions is very similar to that of Washington, with people recommended to limit their indoor interaction for the next three weeks with only one other household.

The United States has been since early spring and continues to be the world's largest coronavirus outbreak, with over 11 million cases, including over 246,000 deaths, as of Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Michigan has so far confirmed nearly 252,000 cases, including 7,994 deaths. Washington has confirmed just above 130,000 cases, including 2,519 deaths.

07:54 GMT 16.11.2020

"We're working very closely with the company. We'll be ready to roll it out as soon as it comes, we'll be ready from the first of December..., but more likely is that we may be able to start rolling it out before Christmas", Matt Hancock told BBC TV.

07:51 GMT 16.11.2020
07:40 GMT 16.11.2020
07:22 GMT 16.11.2020
07:20 GMT 16.11.2020

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the government is ready and is working hard to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Even if that comes through as fast as it possibly could, the vast majority of people will be, we'd expect, to be vaccinating in the new year", Hancock told Sky News, adding that the authorities are doing their best to make Christmas "as normal as possible".

05:39 GMT 16.11.2020
05:00 GMT 16.11.2020
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