Factbox – Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc’s experimental antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 was shown to cut by 89% the chances of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of developing severe disease, offering what could be a promising new weapon in the fight against the pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A woman receives an Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination centre at Cwmbran Stadium in Cwmbran, South Wales, Britain February 17, 2021. Geoff Caddick/Pool via REUTERS

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals here for a case tracker and summary of news

EUROPE

* Roughly 85% of the more than 50,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in Romania were over 60 years old, according to public health institute data, as isolation and mistrust keep many elderly away from vaccines.

* The pandemic has worsened in 10 Russian regions despite a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown designed to curb a surge in infections, a senior Russian official said.

* Germany’s COVID-19 situation is entering a very difficult period as intensive care patient numbers rise, health minister Jens Spahn said, while German state leaders warned the country may need a new lockdown unless it takes urgent action.

* Britain’s Health Secretary hailed the “incredible results” of a trial of Pfizer’s experimental antiviral pill, of which the country has procured 250,000 courses.

* Austria said it is barring those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from cafes, restaurants and hairdressers as infections approach the record set a year ago and the government struggles to convince holdouts to get the shot.

AMERICAS

* President Joe Biden said the United States has secured millions of doses of Pfizer’s experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 in case it turns out to be an effective treatment.

* Republican governors began filing lawsuits to stop the Biden administration’s requirement that nearly 2 million U.S. employers get workers tested or vaccinated for COVID-19.

* The rate of decline in Canadian cases has slowed somewhat and it is too soon to fully lift precautions, the country’s top health official said.

* Chile’s presidential candidates had to host news conferences from home and cancel travel plans as five out of seven candidates were forced to isolate for a week after left-wing hopeful Gabriel Boric tested positive for COVID-19.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Bollywood stars are returning to India’s big screens after more than a year, with the film industry hoping that declining COVID-19 cases and the festival season will bring audiences back to the cinemas.

* Vietnam plans to restart international commercial flights with 15 countries from January next year, its aviation authority said, eyeing a full resumption by July.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Pfizer and United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) are in talks on a licensing agreement that would allow qualified third parties to manufacture and supply the U.S. drugmaker’s oral antiviral pill candidate, pending regulatory nod, the MPP told Reuters.

* Merck has signed nine deals to sell more than about 3 million courses in total of its experimental COVID-19 pill molnupiravir to governments around the world.

* British scientists have identified a version of a gene that may be associated with double the risk of lung failure from COVID-19.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Global equities resumed their rally and the dollar hit a one-year peak after U.S. job data rebounded in a reassuring sign for investors worried for months about how stocks would fare once the Fed starts to rolling back the pandemic-era stimulus. [MKTS/GLOB]

* U.S. employment increased more than expected in October as the headwind from the surge in COVID-19 infections over the summer subsided.

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