- 65 million virus cases
- US still tops
More than 65 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected worldwide, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Friday.
In total, 65,084,394 cases, leading to 1,504,984 deaths, have been recorded around the world since the virus emerged in China late last year.
The rise can be explained only in part by increased testing, with Europe and the United States confronted by a major new wave of infections.
Europe, with more than 19 million confirmed cases including 430,000 fatalities, remains the region with the most infections.
Over the past week, almost 1.7 million new infections have been recorded in 52 European countries, a similar level to the prior seven days.
The United States has recorded over 14 million infections (including 276,000 deaths) – a fifth of the global total.
The number of positive cases continues to rise at an unprecedented rate – more than 210,000 were registered in the US on Thursday alone, a record since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Overall, the United States and Canada have declared 14.5 million cases with at least 288,705 deaths.
Latin America and the Caribbean has registered 13.3 million infections with 453,974 deaths, followed by Asia (12.6 million cases, 197,559 deaths), the Middle East (3.4 million cases, 80,163 deaths), Africa (2.2 million cases, 52,825 deaths) and Oceania (30,388 cases, 942 deaths).
UK defends vaccine approval
Britain’s medicines regulator insisted Friday its world-first approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine met all safety standards, after officials in Europe and the United States raised questions about the rapid process.
Britain announced on Wednesday it had given emergency approval for the vaccine’s general use and would start rolling it out next week.
“Any vaccine must undergo robust clinical trials in line with international standards, with oversight provided by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency,” the MHRA regulator said in a statement.
“No vaccine would be authorized for supply in the UK unless the expected standards of safety, quality, and efficacy are met.”
Sputnik V production in Kazakhstan
Ex-Soviet Kazakhstan said Friday it will begin producing Russia’s coronavirus vaccine later this month, becoming the latest country to do so as a global inoculation race heats up.
Russia last month said its Sputnik V drug was 95 percent effective and would be cheaper and easier to store than some alternatives.
President Vladimir Putin has called on Moscow’s allies to mass-produce the country’s vaccines.
In a statement on Friday, Kazakhstan’s presidency said the country would begin producing Sputnik V from December 22, with plans to begin inoculating vulnerable groups in early 2021.