The US logged its highest ever daily death toll from the coronavirus as the world prepares to turn the page on a grim year defined by the pandemic, with much of the globe united in one hope for 2021: that a slew of new vaccines will stamp out Covid-19.
New Year's Eve marks one year since the World Health Organization first mentioned a mysterious pneumonia in China later identified as Covid-19, which went on in 2020 to kill more than 1.79 million people and devastate the global economy in unprecedented ways.
In the world's worst-hit country, the US, the numbers keep climbing: On Wednesday more than 3,900 people died of Covid-19, a new record, bringing the toll since the pandemic began to more than 19.7 million infections and 341,000 lives lost.
And experts believe the worst is yet to come, as US healthcare workers brace for a surge in cases after major holiday gatherings.
China yesterday approved its first Covid-19 vaccine for general public use, a shot developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
No detailed efficacy data of the vaccine has been publicly released but its developer, Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG), said on Wednesday its vaccine was 79.34% effective in preventing people from developing the disease based on interim data.
Pakistan yesterday announced a 1.2 million dose purchase deal with Sinopharm.
China also confirmed its first case of a new coronavirus variant that was recently detected in Britain, health officials said. Even as vaccinations ramp up in Europe and North America, global infections have surged to more than 82 million.
New infections in Japan's capital hit a record high of 1,337 yesterday, Tokyo's Metropolitan Government said. Nationwide, new cases surpassed 4,000 for the first time, local media said.