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slight delay in vaccine delivery to Europe, new cases of the British variant spotted

More than a year after the appearance of SARS-CoV-2 in China, the Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 1.76 million people worldwide, out of more than 80 million confirmed infections, according to a report established by Agence France-Presse (AFP), Monday, December 28.

The United States is the country which officially recorded the most deaths (330,000), ahead of Brazil (190,000) and India (147,000). But in proportion to their population (respectively 101, 90 and 11 dead per 100,000 inhabitants), these countries are less bereaved than Belgium (166), Italy (119), Peru (114), Spain (107 ) or the United Kingdom (104).

  • Delay of vaccine deliveries in Europe

Vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 continued Monday in several European countries. Most of the countries of the European Union started this weekend to vaccinate their populations, injecting the elderly, caregivers or even politicians with the first doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

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Their delivery to eight European countries will however suffer a slight delay, due to a logistical problem at the Pfizer plant in Belgium, announced the Spanish Ministry of Health, without specifying which were the other seven countries concerned.

Germany, Hungary and Slovakia led the way in the EU on Saturday, a day ahead of the official launch of the campaign.

In France, where the epidemic has killed more than 62,000 people and where the virus is actively circulating, it is a 78-year-old woman, Mauricette M., who was the first person vaccinated on Sunday, at the René-Muret hospital de Sevran (Paris region).

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  • New cases of the British variant

Although the first injections give cause for hope, concerns have arisen in recent days after the report of a variant of the coronavirus which appeared recently in Britain, presumably more contagious than the original strain. This new strain has been spotted in several European countries (France, Spain, the Netherlands or Sweden) and on other continents (Canada, Jordan, Japan or South Korea).

More than fifty countries have ordered restrictions on travel from Britain. South Korea, which had banned flights to and from Britain until the end of the year, extended the measure until January 7. Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday the extension of the closure of its land and sea borders and the suspension of international flights by a week.

According to studies presented in the UK, there is no evidence at this stage that the variant causes more severe forms of the disease.

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  • Restrictive measures for the New Year

Faced with worrying levels of contamination, several populations are again subject to restrictive measures, while the prospect of the New Year raises concerns.

In Australia, local authorities announced that no spectators would be allowed Thursday evening on the shores of Sydney Bay to admire the traditional New Year’s fireworks display. Poland began a three-week partial containment on Monday: only food stores, pharmacies and a few other businesses will remain open. Israel began on Sunday a third general confinement for at least two weeks, and theAustria confined its population on Saturday until January 24.

The government Swedish on Monday introduced a bill giving it temporary new powers to fight the pandemic. Stockholm, which had mainly relied on simple recommendations until now, explained that this new law will allow it to enact restrictive coercive measures in targeted areas and impose sanctions if they are not respected. It may decide to close shops or public transport, or to limit the number of people allowed to assemble in certain public places rather than resorting to general measures.

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  • Sentencing of a “citizen journalist” in China

Zhang Zhan, a “Citizen journalist” who had covered the epidemic in Wuhan, was sentenced Monday to four years in prison in China. From February, she had broadcast on social networks reports, in particular on the chaotic situation of hospitals, before being arrested in May for “Provocation to unrest”.

The trial of Mme Zhang took place as the Communist regime seeks to make people forget the appearance of the new coronavirus on its soil at the end of 2019. A WHO team is expected in early January to take stock of the origins of the ‘epidemic.

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