Six EU nations slam Pfizer vaccine delays; Serbia receives Chinese vaccine: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Updated 01:02, 17-Jan-2021
Alec Fenn


-Portugal's fragile health system is under growing pressure due to a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 10,947 new cases and 166 deaths on Saturday.

-Russian authorities say they will restart flights between Moscow and the capitals of Finland, Vietnam, India and Qatar, suspended since the early weeks of the pandemic, from January 27, after certain epidemiological criteria were met.

-A plane carrying one million doses of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Saturday in Serbia, making it the first European country to receive the Chinese vaccine for mass inoculation programmes.

-Greece kicked off COVID-19 vaccinations among the elderly on Saturday, after first inoculating tens of thousands of frontline workers to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

-Azerbaijan will begin vaccinating citizens against COVID-19 on Monday, using a batch of four million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, the health ministry said on Saturday.

-EU nations have been hit by delays in deliveries of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, after the US firm slowed shipments, prompting six nations to label the situation "unacceptable".

-A political crisis has erupted in Italy after the tiny Italia Viva party withdrew from the nation's coalition government in a dispute over how the country will spend its $254 billion EU recovery fund.

-The UK aviation sector has urged the government to provide financial support amid fears many could struggle to survive ahead of new travel restrictions that come into force on Monday.

-Six new rules aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 have come into force in Scotland following concerns the current lockdown isn't having enough of an impact.

-A leading member of Sage, the body advising the UK government on COVID-19 restrictions, says it would be a "disaster" to lift measures at the end of February.

-The World Health Organization says it's against vaccine passports or certificates of vaccination "for the time being" as conditions of entry to countries.

-A leading scientist says more variants of the COVID-19 virus are expected in 2021. Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, says experts are trying to work out exactly why the virus is mutating.



Iolo ap Dafydd in London 

On Monday the UK will close travel corridors with 60 countries as it attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19 - but the measure is set to cause major problems for the aviation sector.

The move aims to prevent new variants of COVID-19 being imported, which could cause hospitals to become increasingly overwhelmed. Almost 56,000 new cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours and 1,280 people died. Among them are increasingly younger patients.  

Meanwhile, the UK's vaccination program is continuing with more than three million receiving the first dose of either Pfizer/BioNTech or the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines. Tens of millions more doses are on order. 

Several EU countries have complained about receiving far fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine after the US firm slowed shipments as it upgrades its production facilities.

Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have urged the EU to apply pressure on Pfizer-BioNTech, calling the situation "unacceptable" and warn that delay "decreases the credibility of the vaccination process". 

Six EU nations have labelled delays in the delivery of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine "unacceptable"./AFP

Six EU nations have labelled delays in the delivery of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine "unacceptable"./AFP


German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she's "completely convinced" the country will emerge from the pandemic "stronger and more resilient".

Merkel addressed her party at a conference on Friday and noted the seismic changes Germany has overcome throughout her 15 years in power.

Meanwhile, it's also been revealed that the country's economy shrank by just five percent over the past 12 months, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Europe has suffered the biggest recession since the financial crisis of 2008 but Germany's is expected to be one of the least severe.

Analysts believe the composition of the nation's economy has been a major factor behind its financial performance, with the nation's manufacturing base able to continue operating well.


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Source(s): Reuters ,AFP

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