FACTBOX-Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

Jan 21 (Reuters) - Three mutant COVID-19 variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil pose a high risk in Europe, Europe's disease surveillance agency said, while U.S. President Joe Biden moved swiftly to coordinate a federal effort to fight the pandemic.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* It is too early to say when the national lockdown in England will end, British PM Boris Johnson said, as daily deaths reach new highs.

* Ireland's death rate is at its highest level since the start of the pandemic with an average of 44 deaths per day in the past week.

* The Netherlands will impose its first night-time curfew since World War II from Saturday onwards, while Portugal sought to slow contagion rates by ordering all schools to close for 15 days from Friday.

* Spain's public prosecutor is investigating more than 200 cases of potential criminal mishandling of the pandemic at nursing homes.

* France is now recommending that people wear surgical masks in public because they offer better protection from transmission than fabric face coverings.

* Pfizer slashed in half the volume of vaccines it will deliver to some EU countries this week.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* India has cleared commercial exports of COVID-19 vaccines, with the first consignments to be shipped to Brazil and Morocco on Friday, the country's foreign secretary told Reuters.

* A big fire at the Serum Institute of India killed five people, but the world's biggest vaccine maker said it would not affect production of the AstraZeneca shot.

* China plans to impose strict testing requirements during the Lunar New Year holiday season, when tens of millions are expected to travel.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. House of Representatives is planning to bring a coronavirus relief bill to a vote the first week of February, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

* It will not be possible to host carnival celebrations in July, Rio de Janeiro's new mayor said, as Brazil's second wave of coronavirus infections gathers steam with vaccine supplies still scare in Latin America's biggest country.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* The estimated COVID-19 reproduction number in Israel has dipped below 1 for the first time since the country launched the world's fastest vaccination drive.

* South Africa will pay $5.25 per dose for 1.5 million shots of AstraZeneca's vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, a senior official said, more than some wealthier countries are paying.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to supply their COVID-19 vaccine to the World Health Organization co-led COVAX vaccine access scheme, two sources familiar with the deal said.

* A Beijing unit of Sinovac Biotech said it is facing difficulties in finding staff to expand vaccine production because of surging local infections and the imminent Lunar New Year holiday.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* World stock markets racked up record highs and the dollar fell as investors bet major stimulus from new U.S. President Joe Biden and unswerving global central bank support would cushion the coronavirus' damage and bolster growth.

* The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits decreased modestly last week as the pandemic tears through the nation.

(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Veronica Snoj; Editing by Giles Elgood and Sriraj Kalluvila)

01/21/2021 21:13

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