Coronavirus: Latest global developments

·2-min read
People queue to receive vaccines against the Covid-19 coronavirus at a temporary vaccination centre in Beijing.

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- Vaccine nixes variants -

German company BioNTech says a preliminary study shows its vaccine works against strains uncovered in Britain and South Africa.

- Chinese cities sealed off -

China seals off two cities south of Beijing, cutting transport links and banning millions of residents from leaving, as authorities move to stem the country's largest outbreak in six months.

- Snap Australian lockdown -

Australia's third-largest city heads into lockdown and borders are set to tighten nationwide after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel contracts the highly-contagious British strain.

More than two million people in the Brisbane area will have to stay home for at least three days, authorities say.

- Millions more jabs -

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen says the EU has struck a deal to double its supply of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to a total of 600 million doses.

- Video summit -

EU leaders will hold a video summit on January 21 on the pandemic as the bloc faces criticism over the slow roll-out of vaccines.

- Weeks still for EU OK -

EU regulators say they could approve the cheaper Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January as Britain greenlights the Moderna shot. Its government has been criticised for not ordering enough of the US vaccine.

- Shutdown Sweden? -

Sweden passes a law giving the government new powers to close businesses and public transport as its controversial light touch policy fails to curb the virus.

- Cremation controversy -

Sri Lanka's government insists on the cremation of all coronavirus victims, rejecting international pleas to allow the Muslim minority to bury their dead in line with Islamic custom.

- Bhutan's first death -

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan records its first virus death after 10 months of seeking to isolate itself from the pandemic, with a 34-year-old man dying after testing positive on December 23.

- Nearly 1.9 million dead -

The coronavirus has killed at least 1,899,396 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally on Friday based on official sources.

The US is the worst-affected country with 365,321 deaths, followed by Brazil with 200,498, India with 150,570 and Mexico with 131,031.

The number of deaths globally is broadly under-estimated. The toll is calculated from daily figures published by national health authorities and does not include later revisions by statistics agencies.