COVID-19 SUMMARY: Pfizer and BioNTech raise vaccine production target for this year to 2 billion shots, 1 in 5 in U.K. has coronavirus


11th January 2021 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 90,807,588 with 1,945,266 deaths as of 11.15pm today.

Political leaders are promising that mass vaccination campaigns will see life return to normal, as a more contagious variant of the coronavirus spreads across dozens of countries, adding urgency to the race to end the pandemic.But vaccination efforts are rolling out slower than promised, raising doubts about an imminent way out of the crisis.


Germany strengthened its COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, which include longer school closures and travel limits. These measures will last until at least 31st January. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss extending the measures past 1st February with federal state leaders on 25th January. She said Germany was entering the most difficult phase of the pandemic in the coming weeks, during her weekly podcast this weekend.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which was approved for use by European Union regulators last week, will start arriving in Germany Monday, according to the country’s health minister.

A frozen canal in the German city of Munich got so busy with people breaking coronavirus rules Sunday that police had to intervene and close it down.

The United Kingdom is now at the deadliest point of the coronavirus pandemic, with numbers higher now than during last year’s peak, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Monday.  The UK government will publish its COVID-19 UK Vaccines Delivery Plan on Monday, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock scheduled to hold a news conference at Downing Street in the afternoon to provide details on the program.

As many have 20% of people in England have had the virus, according to data firm Edge Health, which works with the U.K.’s public health service.

Ireland’s hospital system appeared close to being overwhelmed, as coronavirus case numbers continue to explode. 

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told radio station Europe 1 that “at this stage we aren’t planning a lockdown,” adding that authorities are following the coronavirus pandemic closely.

Dozens of students staged a sit-in protest outside their school in central Rome on Monday, urging the government to re-open the education sector across the country after most of its 20 regions extended closures to contain rising COVID-19 infections.

Scammers have been defrauding people by falsely offering them COVID vaccines in return for payment, with some victims receiving unidentified jabs, the Welsh health minister said on Monday, echoing warnings from police in other parts of Britain.

Portugal on Monday reported the biggest daily increase in deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak. There were 122 new fatalities in a day, more than the previous record of 118 on Friday, taking the total to 7,925 deaths, according to government data.
The number of new coronavirus infections rose by 5,604 in a day compared with a record 10,176 new cases in a day reported on Friday.

Finland reported a total of 49 cases of the U.K. and South African variants of the coronavirus on Monday, with the bulk of those infections detected in travellers and their close contacts in recent weeks. In Latvia, one case of the U.K. variant was discovered, related to a recent trip to the country.

U.S. and Canada

With COVID-19 hospitalizations surpassing 100,000 for 40 days in a row, officials are trying to ramp up the pace of vaccinations across the United States.

 Top executives at U.S. pharmaceutical company Novavax Inc aren’t waiting to see how well their COVID-19 vaccine works before they reap the financial rewards. Chief Executive Stanley Erck and three of his top lieutenants have sold roughly US$46 million of company stock since the start of last year, according to a Reuters review of securities filings, capitalizing on a near 3,000% rally in Novavax shares fueled by investors betting on the success of the shot under development.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE raised their COVID-19 vaccine production target for this year to 2 billion shots. The previous production target was 1.3 billion doses.

The New York Police Department had already vaccinated about 400 of their members by just after 7am ET Monday morning, on the first day the group became eligible, the NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told CNN affiliate NY1 Monday.

China and Hong Kong

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it welcomes China’s announcement earlier today, which stated that a WHO team investigating the origins of COVID-19 would arrive in the country on Thursday. China’s announcement effectively greenlights the team’s entry into the country. It comes after Beijing blocked the arrival of the global experts last week as the necessary permissions to enter China had not been approved.

A new cluster erupted in Suihua city of northeastern Chinese province Heilongjiang. The city of over 5 million people reported 20 asymptomatic infections after authorities tested more than 2,800 people.  The detection of the new cluster came as the outbreaks in Shijiazhuang city near the Chinese capital escalated with more than 450 cases in less than 10 days and sporadic flareups in the country’s northeastern provinces.

In Hong Kong, a total of 632 cases have been recorded in the past 14 days, including 577 local cases of which 181 are from unknown sources.

Elsewhere in the world

Japan is preparing to expand a coronavirus state of emergency to the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo by the end of the week, Jiji news agency reported on Monday, citing unidentified government sources.

Israel’s vaccination campaign, which has already covered about 20% of its population, is producing early signs that vaccines are slowing the virus. Sheba Medical Center’s Gili Regev, director of the infection prevention and control unit, says that her study of around 500 health-care workers vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is already turning the tide.

Oxygen usage is surging in South Africa amid a new wave of coronavirus infections, leaving suppliers struggling to keep pace with demand. As infection rates and deaths reach records, Air Liquide SA, Afrox Healthcare Ltd. and Air Products are boosting deliveries to hospitals, with some now taking place daily rather than weekly.

Russia approved a 150-person study of the so-called Sputnik Light vaccine developed by the makers of the country’s first registered inoculation, according to the Health Ministry.

Australia’s Queensland state will lift the three-day lockdown on its capital city Brisbane from 6pm local time after zero new coronavirus cases were recorded overnight, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Indonesia gave Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine its first emergency use approval outside China on Monday as the world’s fourth most populous country launches nationwide inoculations to stem surging infections and deaths.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced a nationwide travel ban and a 14-day lockdown in the capital and five states, as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases that threaten to overload its healthcare system. “Our healthcare system is at a breaking point,” Muhyiddin said in a live televised address. The number of new daily infections breached the 3,000 mark for the first time last week, while total coronavirus cases passed 138,000 on Monday, with 555 deaths overall.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.