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COVID-19 Vaccine Approved as Cases Surge

Crowds of shoppers walk under the Christmas lights in Regent Street, in London, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says infections are starting to rise in some areas after falling during a four-week national lockdown in England…

As more countries approve a coronavirus vaccine, the urgent need for inoculation continues to grow with COVID-19 cases and deaths spiking to record highs in several countries.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Sunday that South Korea recorded a record daily increase in coronavirus cases for a second straight day with 1,030 new infections.

In the U.S. last week, California recorded more than 25,000 new infections in one day. “Lives will be lost unless we do more than we’ve ever done,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Overall, more than 16 million people in the U.S. have contracted the disease, while nearly 300,000 have died.

A New York Times investigation found that coronavirus deaths have risen faster than the rest of the country in U.S. college town communities where students make up at least 10% of the population.

Italy is poised to overtake Britian as the European country with the most COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Early Sunday, Italy was just 87 deaths behind Britain, but Italy has 6 million fewer people than Britain.

Italy has suffered 25,418 deaths in the weeks since Nov. 1, which is more than it did from April 2 to Oct. 31, when it reported 25,463.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 71 million global COVID infections and 1.6 million deaths.

Public health officials say actual numbers are likely higher since not everyone is tested for the disease and some people who are infected do not display any symptoms.

In U.S. states, the first coronavirus vaccine will begin arriving early Monday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech for emergency use.

Mexico also approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine late Friday, bringing to six the number of countries that are using or plan to use it.

Britain, Bahrain, Canada and Saudi Arabia have also approved the vaccine.

Mexico City said Saturday that shops in the capital’s center and other busy areas would temporarily close at 5 p.m. to reduce the risk spreading the virus as authorities battle a surge in cases.

Brazil is steadily approaching 7 million COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 181,000 deaths.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been skeptical about the seriousness of the disease, even though he is a coronavirus survivor.

The South American country’s Supreme Court gave Brazil’s government a deadline to come up with a plan to fight the spread of the disease.

A health ministry document sent to Brazil’s Supreme Court said 108 million doses of the vaccine would be set aside for priority groups, such as health care workers, the elderly and members of indigenous communities, Reuters reports. The plan, however, did not provide a date for starting inoculations for priority groups or the rest of the population.

Last week, Brazil's health minister vowed to vaccinate the entire country during the course of next year.

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