Factbox: Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus


Pensioners wearing face masks and winter hats walk during lockdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, November 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

(Reuters) - The world is on the brink of "catastrophic moral failure" in sharing COVID-19 vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said, urging countries and manufacturers to spread doses more fairly.

EUROPE

* Britain's vaccine rollout is limited by a "lumpy" manufacturing process affecting supplies of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca, but is on track to hit its targets, Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said.

* Norway will ease some restrictions as extra measures in place for two weeks seem to have had the desired effect, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, although she said infection rates remained too high for comfort.

* Germany's health minister said new measures would be needed to slow the spread of new, more infectious variants of the virus, including more health checks for cross-border commuters and intensified gene sequencing of virus samples.

* Austria, Denmark and Greece will jointly pressure the European Medicines Agency to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine as quickly as possible.

* Health authorities quarantined two hotels and closed ski schools in the Swiss resort of St Moritz to try to curb an outbreak of a highly infectious coronavirus variant.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Japan's prime minister vowed to forge ahead with preparations to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer, in the face of growing public opposition.

* China reported more than 100 new cases for the sixth consecutive day, with rising infections in the northeast fuelling concern of another wave when hundreds of millions of people travel for the Lunar New Year holiday.

* Singapore urged workers at its national airline to help make it the world's first carrier with all staff vaccinated against COVID-19.

* Two private hospitals in Thailand have ordered millions of doses of vaccines ahead of regulatory approval, adding to government orders of vaccines.

* Australia may not fully reopen its international borders this year even if most of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, the head of its health department said as the country recorded zero local cases.

* Turkmenistan became the first country in Central Asia to register Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said.

AMERICAS

* The United States called on China to allow an expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO) to interview "care givers, former patients and lab workers" in the central city of Wuhan, and ensure its access to medical data and samples.

* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his country would soon have a Russian vaccine available in the fight against COVID-19, as Mexican health authorities were about to issue a decision on the product.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* South Africa, which has yet to receive its first coronavirus vaccine doses, will be getting 9 million from Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry said.

* The United Arab Emirates has postponed the implementation of a visa-exemption agreement with Israel after Israel required anyone entering from the Gulf state to be quarantined as a COVID-19 precaution, Israeli officials said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Germany's health minister urged Pfizer to stick to its commitments on delivery volumes and dates after the company announced a temporary reduction in deliveries.

* China's Sinovac Biotech said that a clinical trial in Brazil showed its COVID-19 vaccine was almost 20 percentage points more effective in a small sub-group of patients who received their two doses longer apart.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Global stock markets wavered as soaring COVID-19 cases offset investor hopes of a quick economic recovery, even after data showing that the Chinese economy rebounded faster-than-expected in the fourth quarter of 2020. [MKTS/GLOB]

* The head of the International Monetary Fund said the global economic outlook remained highly uncertain given the pandemic, and a growing divergence between rich and poor countries required the IMF to find more resources.

(Compiled by Bartosz Dabrowski and Milla Nissi; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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