Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
– Three Pfizer jabs ‘effective’ against variant –
Three doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine are “effective” against the Omicron variant of the virus, the German company that developed the jab says, promising an Omicron-specific version by March.
– Omicron ‘no worse’ –
The Omicron variant appears to be no worse than other strains, top scientists from the World Health Organization and the United States tell AFP, and is “highly unlikely” to completely evade vaccines.
– UN warns over forced vaccination –
The United Nations rights chief warns against forced vaccinations but does not object to fines for people who refuse to get jabbed.
– Vaccine pass ‘a leash’ –
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro compares vaccine passes to a leash for animals as the country says it will not require vaccination certificates for travellers arriving in the country.
“Sometimes it is better to lose your life than to lose your freedom,” Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga says.
– Johnson party furore –
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders a probe after a video emerged of senior aides joking about holding a Christmas party at Downing Street last year when social gatherings were banned.
– Mass burial –
Papua New Guinea carries out the first in a series of mass burials, interring 54 people whose remains were unclaimed for months as the pandemic ravaged the poor Melanesian nation.
– UN chief isolating –
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 72, is isolating in New York after being exposed to the virus by an infected official.
– ‘New Jews’ –
Four Holocaust survivors file a lawsuit against far-right Dutch politician Thierry Baudet after he claims that non-vaccinated people are the “new Jews”.
– Norway party limit –
Norway limits the number of people allowed at parties for a month to counter a surge in cases there.
– Sealand ‘virus free’ –
The micronation of Sealand — once a British anti-aircraft platform in the North Sea — proudly declares to AFP that it is only virus-free country in Europe.
– More than 5.2 million dead –
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,270,700 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Wednesday.
The US has suffered the most Covid-related deaths with 791,514, followed by Brazil with 616,018, India with 473,952, Mexico with 295,601 and Russia with 284,823.
The countries with the most new deaths are the US with 1,735, followed by Russia with 1,179 and Poland with 591.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.