China approved its first homegrown coronavirus vaccine for general public use on Thursday, with officials promising to provide the general public with free inoculations. The approval comes a day after its manufacturer, state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, said the vaccine is 79.34% effective, citing interim analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials. China is aiming to inoculate 50 million people with domestic Covid-19 vaccines ahead of February’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
Restrictions are being placed on New Year festivities around the world as many countries struggle to curb new spikes in coronavirus cases. Fireworks displays and other public gatherings have been canceled from Sydney to New York. Festivities are being particularly muted in Europe, amid fears over a new more contagious strain of the disease. France has mobilised 100,000 police to break up New Year’s Eve parties and enforce a night-time curfew.
A convicted murderer, considered by the FBI to be the most prolific serial killer in US history, has died at a hospital in California. Samuel Little, who had been serving three consecutive life sentences for the killing of three women in Los Angeles County during the 1980s, ultimately confessed to killing 93 people. Little was convicted of the three murders in September 2014.
President Trump’s demand for $2,000 relief checks to Americans struggling financially with the pandemic was all but dead after Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that a proposal from Democrats had “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate”. Declaring that he would not be “bullied” by Democrats into quickly approving the measure, McConnell effectively denied a final request for legislative action by the president.
Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck targets in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital Sanaa on Thursday in retaliation for attacks in the southern port city of Aden the previous day that took place as officials in a government backed by Riyadh arrived there. The coalition accused the Houthi movement, which it has been fighting for six years, of staging the attack on Aden’s airport and a second one on the presidential palace.
The first case of a new and potentially more infectious strain of Covid-19 has been confirmed in the United States, Colorado health officials said Tuesday. Preliminary analysis of the mutated strain, first identified in the U.K., suggests it may be the culprit behind Britain’s recent spike in cases. The new strain, referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01, could be as much as 70% more transmissible, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has become the second coronavirus jab to be approved for UK use. It has been given the go-ahead by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The vaccine, codenamed AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, was developed at Oxford University with support from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. A first dose of the jab gives around 70% effectiveness from three weeks after immunization until a second dose at 12 weeks.
Argentina’s Senate voted on Wednesday to legalize abortion, a first for a big country in Latin America and a triumph for women’s rights campaigners achieved over the visceral objection of the Catholic Church. Abortion is extremely rare in a region where the Church has held cultural and political sway for centuries. Previously, it was allowed on demand only in Communist Cuba, tiny Uruguay and parts of Mexico.
At least 16 people were killed and dozens others injured in an attack on Aden airport in Yemen on Wednesday, shortly after a plane carrying a newly formed Yemeni Cabinet arrived from Saudi Arabia. No one on the government plane was hurt. The source of the blast remains unknown and no group immediately claimed an attack on the airport in the southern city.
A landslide in a Norwegian village has left at least nine people injured and buried houses under what looks like a huge slick of mud in a gully. Police told the NRK broadcaster that 26 people were unaccounted for in Gjerdrum, which lies some 25km (15 miles) north-east of the capital, Oslo. Several hundred people have been evacuated from the village.