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Live Updates: More Than 16 Million Coronavirus Cases Now Confirmed in US

Russia and the UK are the first countries to start vaccinations, using the Sputnik V and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine respectively, while the US is joining the list, also authorising the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. At the same time, many other vaccines are undergoing phase III trials as well.

The overall coronavirus count has surpassed 70 million, while the death toll is over 1,590,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The worst-hit country is the US (over 15.8 million cases, 295,000 deaths), followed by India (almost 9.8 million cases, more than 142,000 fatalities), and Brazil (over 6.7 million cases, and a death toll of over 179,000).

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01:51 GMT 13.12.2020

FedEx has started receiving doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, The Commercial Appeal newspaper reports.

"The process for moving vaccines into our network has begun," FedEx representative Bonny Harrison said in a message to The Commercial Appeal on Saturday morning. "I think you probably just heard General Perna confirm rollout begins Sunday," he added.

Gen. Gustave Perna, a leading official in the United States' Operation Warp Speed vaccine distribution initiative, said on Saturday that US states could expect to receive their first shipments of the vaccine against COVID-19 produced by Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday.

"I expect the first shipments to arrive Monday morning. Extensive coordination will ensure that this occurs. We've worked with Pfizer, McKesson, UPS [United Parcel Service], FedEx, federal and local law enforcement agencies to ensure safety and security of the vaccine. Make no mistake, distribution has begun," Perna said at a press conference.

According to The Commercial Appeal, Pfizer is shipping its COVID-19 vaccine directly through FedEx, while McKesson will work with FedEx to ship other vaccines. A UPS spokesperson told the newspaper that FedEx and UPS were splitting duties, with UPS focusing on deliveries to the eastern half of the US, and FedEx covering western deliveries.

Perna said on Saturday that 145 locations in all US states could expect to receive shipments on Monday. He added that 425 more sites would receive vaccine doses on Tuesday, before the final 66 locations get their shipments on Wednesday.

On Friday, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency use approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19. Speaking during a televised address, US President Donald Trump said that the vaccine will save "millions of lives."

01:11 GMT 13.12.2020
01:07 GMT 13.12.2020
22:52 GMT 12.12.2020

Germany could introduce a stricter nation-wide quarantine before mid-December, amid increasing coronavirus infection rates, The Business Insider reports.

A final decision on the introduction of tougher coronavirus restrictions will be made on Sunday. According to The Business Insider, new measures will be introduced before December 16 and will be in force until January 10.

The government will decide on a possible extension of the new measures on January 4. The new restrictions might include the closure of most stores and schools and getting the majority of people to work remotely, according to The Business Insider.

On Saturday, Berlin Mayor Michael Muller said that the federal government and states would agree on introducing additional quarantine measures over the coronavirus outbreak starting from December 20.

Earlier this month, the Bild newspaper reported that the German government was likely to introduce a stricter coronavirus-related quarantine beginning December 27.

Germany has over 1.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases. The country's COVID-19 death toll stands at over 21,600.

21:47 GMT 12.12.2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has surpassed 16 million, while the death toll stands at over 297,000, according to the latest data from the Coronavirus Resource Center of the Johns Hopkins University.

As of 21:50 GMT on Saturday, there were 16,014,839 coronavirus cases in the US, including 297,501 deaths from COVID-19.

A total of 6,135,314 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the US, Johns Hopkins University data showed.

The United States has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, as well as the highest death toll, of all the countries in the world.

21:16 GMT 12.12.2020
20:50 GMT 12.12.2020

The international community will likely get the COVID-19 pandemic under control "by the end of next summer" following the mass rollout of vaccines, Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of the BioNTech pharmaceutical firm, told the US broadcaster Fox News.

"We should be confident that we will be able to control this disease and pandemic, at the latest, the end of next summer," Sahin said during an appearance on the broadcaster that was published on Saturday.

BioNTech, a German firm, has cooperated with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to produce a vaccine against COVID-19 that has already received emergency use approval in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

Sahin added that Pfizer and BioNTech could likely produce more than the 1.3 billion vaccine doses promised by the end of next year.

Speaking on Thursday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that "tens of thousands" of people had already received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after it was rolled out earlier in the week.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of the US-German vaccine on Friday evening, and earlier on Saturday, Operation Warp Speed logistical chief Gen. Gustave Perna said that the first shipments of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in US states on Monday.

20:11 GMT 12.12.2020

Moscow has registered 72 deaths of patients infected with COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the Russian capital's death toll to 9,870, the city's coronavirus response center said in a statement on Saturday.

"Another 72 patients, who were diagnosed with pneumonia and tested positive for the coronavirus infection, died in Moscow," the center said.

In the previous day, 76 people infected with the coronavirus died in Moscow.

19:42 GMT 12.12.2020

Nicolas Maduro Guerra, the son of Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro, has taken part in the phase three trials of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 that are taking place in the South American country, Sergei Melik-Bagdasarov, the Russian ambassador in Caracas, said on Saturday.

"Very proud to be present at the moment when recently-elected deputy Nicolas Maduro Guerra participated in the third phase of clinical trials for the world's first registered vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik V," Melik-Bagdasarov wrote on Twitter.

Venezuela began conducting phase three clinical trials on Sputnik V in mid-October and plans are in place for the Latin American country to begin producing the vaccine.

President Maduro has said Venezuela's mass vaccination program against COVID-19 is likely to begin in April.

19:41 GMT 12.12.2020

The Peruvian National Institute of Health has suspended clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Chinese laboratory Sinopharm, the Peruvian Health Ministry said on Saturday.

"The Ministry of Health, in relation to the decision of the National Institute of Health to temporarily suspend the clinical trials of Sinopharm vaccine that are ongoing in the country, informs that this decision has been made due to safety measures set out in the test protocol to protect the health of the participants of the third phase of trials," the ministry said.

The ministry added that the trials can be suspended "if a serious adverse effect is detected in any of the research subjects," the ministry said.

The ministry stressed that the reasons for the adverse effect would be investigated to find out whether it had been caused by the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization, Peru has confirmed 1,799 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of infections reaching 979,111. On Friday, the country registered 691 cases.

13:22 GMT 12.12.2020
13:11 GMT 12.12.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pledged to mobilise all of the country's resources to combat the spread of COVID-19 after a new single-day record for cases was registered over the preceding 24 hours, domestic media outlets reported on Saturday.

"We will consider this as an emergency situation and put all out efforts in a short period of time, using all available administrative ability", the president said in a Twitter post, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

12:11 GMT 12.12.2020
11:08 GMT 12.12.2020

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - The Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (Cofepris) has licensed the coronavirus vaccine developed by the Pfizer-BioNTech duo for emergency use, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell said on Saturday.

"Cofepris gave an emergency use authorisation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus to prevent the spread of COVID-19", Gatell said at a press conference, broadcast on Twitter.

09:56 GMT 12.12.2020
09:48 GMT 12.12.2020
08:20 GMT 12.12.2020
08:00 GMT 12.12.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia's coronavirus tally has increased by 28,137 cases recorded over the past 24 hours, the government's coronavirus response centre said in an update on Saturday.

"Over the past day, 28,137 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 5,182 cases (18.4 percent) without clinical symptoms", the centre said, adding that the majority of new cases — over 6,600 — were confirmed in Moscow.

07:17 GMT 12.12.2020
06:43 GMT 12.12.2020
06:02 GMT 12.12.2020
05:45 GMT 12.12.2020
05:23 GMT 12.12.2020
04:36 GMT 12.12.2020
04:30 GMT 12.12.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – India has confirmed 30,005 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of those infected having reached 9,826,775, the country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday.

The death toll from the disease has reached 142,628 people, with 442 new fatalities recorded over the past day. More than 9.32 million people have recovered in India since the start of the outbreak.

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