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A worker of the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (FDNY EMS) receives a COVID-19 Moderna vaccine, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 23, 2020 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Moderna Plans to Produce at Least 600 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine in 2021

The global death toll from COVID-19 has topped 1.84 million, while the overall number of infected has surpassed 85 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Multiple countries have launched vaccination campaigns to curb the pandemic, as concerns are rising due to a mutant strain of the virus discovered in the United Kingdom.

The US tops the list of the worst-hit countries, with over 20.6 million infected, and a death toll of 351,000 (over 1 percent of the general population). It is followed by India (10.3 million cases, 149,000 deaths), and Brazil (7.7 million cases, over 196,000 fatalities).

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03:43 GMT 05.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US pharmaceutical company Moderna said it planned to produce at least 600 million doses of its vaccine against COVID-19 in 2021, not 500 million as previously announced.

"Moderna, Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA), a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today provided a supply update for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, increasing its base-case global production estimate from 500 to 600 million doses for 2021," the company said in a statement on its website.

"Moderna said it is continuing to invest and add staff to build up to potentially 1 billion doses for 2021," it said.

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RIGA/HELSINKI (Sputnik) - Latvia has received its second batch of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Pfizer and BioNTech pharmaceutical companies, Health Minister Ilze Vinkele said on Monday.

"The second batch of COVID-19 vaccines produced by BioNTech/Pfizer has been delivered to Latvia. The batch consists of 13,650 doses. Part of the vaccines will remain at the donor center, some will be transported to the Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital, and the other to the Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital," Vinkele wrote on Twitter.

The Baltic country received the first shipment of 9,750 COVID-19 doses in late December. In total, Latvia is planning to purchase 97,500 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Neighboring Estonia has also received its second batch of the coronavirus vaccine, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said on Monday.

"Today we received another 9,750 doses. In the future, the volume of supplies will grow, weekly we should receive about 11,000-12,000 doses. Sometimes even more. It is difficult to give exact figures now, since everything depends on the producer's capacity," Kiik told the Delfi news outlet.

The first batch of Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was delivered to Tallinn on December 26.

According to the country's Health Department, 2,535 people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus since the start of the mass immunization campaign on December 27.

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15:39 GMT 04.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree that aims to prevent dangerous infectious diseases from slipping into the country, according to the document published on Monday.

The nine-page decree confirmed the "plan of action of public authorities to avert the threat of emergencies caused by introduction and spread of dangerous infectious diseases in Russia."

The government has until early April to come up with a "unified algorithm" for inter-departmental and regional cooperation on curbing the spread of infections from abroad.

15:28 GMT 04.01.2021

TBILISI (Sputnik) - Georgia has confirmed the first case of the new variant of COVID-19 that was identified in the United Kingdom, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of the Georgian Health Ministry said on Monday.

"Lugar laboratory of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health has completed a genetic analysis of the detected samples to determine the presence of a new 'British' coronavirus strain in the country. In total, the study included three suspicious cases. In two cases, the existence of this strain was not established. In the third sample taken in December, a mutation similar to the gene of the new 'British' strain was confirmed," the statement said.

According to the ministry, the patient is a man over 50 and his condition is satisfactory. He is in isolation. All the persons, who were in contact with him, have been identified. The man arrived in Georgia from another country and has already returned back there. He has not visited the UK.

In December, the UK announced that the new coronavirus strain was detected in the country, adding that the new variant can be up to 70 percent more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 variants. After the news, many countries suspended travel to and from the UK. There is no evidence that the new strain is more pathogenic.

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Police have broken up a weekend church service in the German town of Herford, Deutsche Welle reported on Monday. The authorities confirmed social distancing and face-covering violations at the church, where the congregation was singing and praying, despite such events being banned.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia's coronavirus tally has increased by 23,351 cases over the past 24 hours, the government's coronavirus response centre said in an update on Monday.

"Over the past day, 23,351 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 84 Russian regions, including 2,616 cases (11.2 percent) without clinical symptoms", the centre stated.

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"We obviously have the very positive news this morning of the Oxford vaccine starting to be rolled out", he told Sky News. "That's a triumph of British science that we've managed to get were we are".

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TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japan is planning to launch COVID-19 vaccination by late February, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday.

"The government is preparing to start vaccination, if possible, by the end of February, while continuing to study safety and effectiveness of [vaccines]", Suga told a press conference.

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