More than 600,000 people in the United Kingdom have received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine since the rollout began earlier this month.
The UK was the first country in the world to approve and begin inoculating people with the vaccine. Care home residents, adults over 80, and health and social care staff were first to receive the shot at more than 500 sites across the country.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he expects to receive millions of doses before the end of the year.
The second dose must be given three weeks after the first.
Rest of Europe
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany‘s federal agency for disease control and prevention, reported 25,533 new cases on Friday, along with 412 deaths from the virus.
South Africa‘s health minister has refuted his British counterpart’s claim that a new variant in the country is more contagious or more dangerous than a similar one currently rampant in the UK.
“At present, there is no evidence that the 501.V2 (variant) is more transmissible than the United Kingdom variant, as suggested by the British Health Secretary,” Zwelini Mkhize said in a statement.
“There is also no evidence that (it) causes more severe disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any variant that has been sequenced around the world.”
Israel has reported a three-month high caseload as it prepares to enter its third lockdown since the onset of the pandemic.
The Israeli Health Ministry announced on Friday that 3,958 new infections had been reported over a 24-hour period.
As a result of the ever-increasing numbers, a third partial lockdown is to be imposed from Sunday afternoon. This will be in place for at least two weeks.
Three Latin American countries began their immunization programs against COVID on Thursday. Frontline medical staff in Mexico and Chile were among the first to get the injection, while Costa Rica began its own program.
Mexican nurse Maria Irene Ramirez said, “it’s the best gift I could receive in 2020,” while she received the shot.
A nursing assistant in Chile was the first to receive the vaccine in the country in the presence of President Sebastian Pinera.
Elizabeth Castillo, a 91-year-old nursing home resident, was the first vaccine recipient in Costa Rica.
“I am very grateful to God, because I have asked so much of him. My life is very important to me, so take advantage of every moment,” said Castillo.
Argentina received 300,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on Thursday. It is the first Latin American country to approve the use of the Russian vaccine.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has vowed to take the first shot to prove it was safe, after the vaccine was criticized that it was registered before the start of large-scale clinical trials.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a mandate that requires all airline passengers arriving from the UK starting Monday to test negative for COVID.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Friday there were 1,241 new cases reported the day before. That is the highest 24-hour count that the country has seen so far in the pandemic.
Hong Kong extended its required quarantine for international arrivals from 14 days to 21 days, effective Friday. This does not include people arriving from mainland China.
The city also banned all people who were in South Africa in the past 21 days from arriving, due to the new variant found in the country. Hong Kong had already stopped flights arriving from the UK from Monday.
kbd, jsi/aw (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)