Coronavirus latest: Canada approves Pfizer jab; US stocks touch high

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Global cases have reached 68,414,122, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 1,560,630.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

Thursday, Dec. 10 (Tokyo time)

1:25 a.m. What other COVID-19 vaccines are under development around the world, and what challenges do scientists still face? This visual data presentation from Nikkei provides some facts.

1:10 a.m. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 has been approved for use in Canada.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, a former NATO commander in Iraq, is in charge of logistics for vaccine distribution, the CBC says.

12:30 a.m. U.S. stocks rally on hopes for early distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, only to give up early gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average touches a new high of 30,296.07 before sinking into the red for the session. The S&P 500 also retreats from record territory.

Investors seem to be biding their time as Republicans and Democrats still wrangle over a new economic aid package. New U.S. COVID-19 cases remain at record highs of over 200,000 a day.

Wednesday, Dec. 9

11:00 p.m. Winter bonuses at Japanese companies will fall 8.55% this year, a Nikkei survey shows, marking the second-biggest decline on record.

The only bigger drop in payouts was the nearly 15% plunge in 2009, when the world was still reeling from the global financial crisis.

The service sector has been hit hardest this year, and its 14.6% decrease in winter bonuses shows is worse than the all-industry figure.

All Nippon Airways has canceled its bonus for the first time, while rival Japan Airlines has slashed its by 80%. Yoshinoya Holdings, one of the nation’s leading fast-food chains, will pay out around 63% less this winter.

8:12 p.m. U.K. regulators say people who have a “significant history” of allergic reactions should not receive the new Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine while they investigate two adverse reactions that occurred on the first day of the country’s mass vaccination program.

8:01 p.m. Rich countries have secured enough coronavirus vaccines to protect their populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021, Amnesty International and other groups said on Wednesday, possibly depriving billions of people in poorer areas.

Britain approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine this month, raising hopes that the tide could soon turn against a virus that has killed nearly 1.5 million globally, hammered the world economy and upended normal life.

7:08 p.m. More Indians have searched for cricket tournament Indian Premier League this year than coronavirus, which came second, according to 2020 search trends data released by Google.

India is the world’s biggest market for cricket, and this year’s IPL was shifted out of the country and held in the United Arab Emirates due to disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A vendor touts his wares in front of a mural aimed at raising awareness about coronavirus infections in Jakarta.

  © Reuters

6:40 p.m. Indonesia reports its deadliest day since the beginning of the pandemic with 171 deaths over the past 24 hours, and 6,058 new infections. Cases now total 592,900 with 18,171 deaths.

6:36 p.m. Philippine high rollers will soon be allowed to place bets in the comfort of their own homes as the gaming regulator allows integrated resort casinos to offer online gambling to partially recoup billions of dollars of lost revenues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

5:14 p.m. Roche is partnering with Moderna to include a COVID-19 antibody test in the mRNA specialist’s ongoing vaccine trials, which can demonstrate if the vaccine is working, the Swiss drugmaker said on Wednesday.

5:13 p.m. President Moon Jae-in says South Korea should be able to secure more COVID-19 vaccines despite budget constraints it faces. The remarks, made Wednesday in a statement from the presidential Blue House, came as South Korea reports another 686 new coronavirus cases. The country is battling a third wave of infection that is threatening to overwhelm its medical system.

4:56 p.m. Israel has received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday and a distributor predicted the country would have enough for about a quarter of the population by the end of the year.

The United Arab Emirates has been conducting Phase 3 clinical trials of China’s Sinopharm vaccine since July and in September approved its emergency use for certain groups.

  © Reuters

3:17 p.m. An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm has 86% efficacy against the virus, the United Arab Emirates health ministry said on Wednesday, citing an interim analysis of a human trial underway there.

3:08 p.m. Tokyo reports 572 new infections, up from 352 a day earlier, posting a second-highest daily record. The number of patients in serious condition in the capital decreased by one to 59.

1:29 p.m. India reports 32,080 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, up from 26,567 the previous day, pushing the country total to over 9.73 million cases so far. Deaths jumped by 402 to 141,360.

1:18 p.m. China’s factory gate prices fell at a slower pace in November, adding to signs that the world’s second-largest economy is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic. But consumer prices unexpectedly declined for the first time in over a decade. The producer price index fell 1.5% from a year earlier. The consumer price index fell 0.5% in November from a year earlier after rising 0.5% in October.

12:00 p.m. Edtech startups in Southeast Asia are trying to expand their reach as the pandemic cuts off in-person learning for many students. The technology could free teachers to focus on meaningful forms of education, such as personalized coaching and mentoring. Find out more here.

10:54 a.m. A passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise from Singapore has tested positive, forcing all guests aboard the Quantum of the Seas to be quarantined in their cabins as the ship returned to port.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruise ship docks at Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Center after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 9.

  © Reuters

10:37 a.m. Japan’s core private-sector machinery orders rose 17.1% in October from the previous month, the sharpest increase on record, as the economy recovered from the pandemic.

9:41 a.m. South Korea confirms 686 cases — up from 594 a day ago — marking the third largest daily rise since January and bringing the country total to 39,432 with 556 deaths.

9:00 a.m. A Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been launched in the U.K. Nikkei looks at other vaccines still under development around the world, as well as the challenges facing scientists.

8:29 a.m. Brazil has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer for more than 70 million vaccine doses, its health minister said on Tuesday. On the day, 842 fatalities were reported, the highest in almost a month.

8:03 a.m. Japan’s latest spike in coronavirus cases overwhelmed a city in central Hokkaido, prompting the northern prefecture’s governor to request backup from the national government.

7:26 a.m. North Korea lashed out at South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha for doubting its claim that there were no coronavirus outbreaks in the North, warning of consequences for her “impudent” comment, according to state media.

5:30 a.m. Cumulative U.S. COVID-19 cases have crossed the grim milestone of 15 million, out of a global total of 68 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

More than 285,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has picked Vivek Murthy as U.S. surgeon general, a role Murthy held under the Obama administration. The son of immigrants from India, Murthy comes from a family of doctors, went to high school in Miami, college at Harvard, and medical and business school at Yale.

“I will dedicate myself to caring for every American, driven always by science and facts, by head and by heart, and endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India could be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of an entire nation,” Murthy says in a news conference announcing Biden’s health care team.

4:05 a.m. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks on his health care team picks.

3:40 a.m. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will pay companies up to 40,000 yen ($380) per month for every person they employ whom has been put out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 74,000 people in Japan have or are expected to become unemployed or go on furlough owing to the pandemic, government estimates show. The food service and travel industries are among the hardest-hit sectors of the economy.

Japan has expanded aid to keep workers on payrolls during the crisis.

As of Dec. 4, more than more than 2.3 trillion yen, or $22 billion, in subsidies have been approved since April for companies that put workers on paid furloughs rather than laying them off.

2:05 a.m. Singapore Changi Airport seeks to become the coronavirus vaccine distribution hub for Southeast Asia, boosting its cold storage capacity and forming a task force to oversee the project.

The vaccines will be distributed in Southeast Asia and Oceania, according to Changi Airport Group. This arrangement will support outlying cities in Southeast Asia that lag in developing logistic infrastructure.

Vaccine cargo deliveries would help prop up the local airline industry depressed by a lack of air traffic following border closures to stem the spread of the pandemic. It is also anticipated that vaccine distribution will do its part to bring back passengers.

12:40 a.m. The COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech receives a favorable initial assessment from the U.S. drug safety regulator in a bid for emergency approval.

“The efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity data in this [emergency use authorization] application support a positive assessment of risk and benefit for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and [fulfill] the data requirements outlined in the Food and Drug Administration EUA guidance,” documents published Tuesday say.

The two-shot vaccine shows appears to confer some protection after the first dose, according to the documents.

Emergency use authorization is a fast-track approval process for products in critical need. An FDA official explains:

12:05 a.m. Japan reports 47 new COVID-19 deaths for Tuesday, the highest single-day tally to date. Hokkaido and Osaka prefectures had nine deaths each, followed by Tokyo with six.

Tuesday, Dec. 8

11:00 p.m. American Airlines says it will expand preflight COVID-19 tests to passengers going to all U.S. states with travel restrictions.

For $129, travelers can receive a coronavirus check than involves swabbing their own nose and sending the sample to a testing center about 48 hours before boarding. Travelers who test positive will not be allowed to board.

8:35 p.m. India’s federal health secretary Rajesh Bhushan says the government’s regulator could grant a license to some developers of COVID-19 vaccines in the next few weeks. Six vaccine candidates, including AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, are in trial stages, Bhushan says.

6:15 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says the latest economic stimulus package to help the country recover from its coronavirus-driven slump likely will boost gross domestic product by around 3.6%.

Japan’s new round of economic relief during the pandemic will be worth roughly 73.6 trillion yen ($706 billion).

Earlier, Suga says: “We will maintain employment, keep businesses going, revive the economy and make a breakthrough toward growth including through green and digital technology.”

5:32 p.m. Indonesian state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma says that interim data on its trials for vaccine candidates produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech show up to 97% efficacy.

4:30 p.m. Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother, early Tuesday became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine outside of a trial. Rolling out the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Britain became the first Western country to start vaccinating its general population, hailed as a watershed moment in defeating the coronavirus. Keenan received the vaccine at a local hospital in Coventry, central England, a week before she turns 91.

“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” Keenan said as she received the shot from a nurse originally from the Philippines.

3:20 p.m. Tokyo reports 352 new infections, up from 299 a day earlier, with the number of patients in serious condition in the capital increasing by five to 60.

1:32 p.m. India reports 26,567 cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily count since July 10, bringing the country’s total to 9.7 million. The death toll jumped by 385 to 140,958.

Hong Kong will ban dining in restaurants after 6 p.m. and study additional relief measures for those affected.

  © Reuters

11:30 a.m. Hong Kong will ban dining in restaurants after 6 p.m. to curb a rise in coronavirus cases in the densely packed financial hub. The government will also study additional relief measures for those affected by the latest restrictions. On Monday, Hong Kong recorded 78 new cases of coronavirus, taking its total to 6,976.

10:55 a.m. South Korea has signed deals with four companies as part of a program that will provide coronavirus vaccines for 44 million people, the government says. The government has arranged to buy 20 million doses each from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, and 4 million from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, which together are enough to cover up to 34 million people. Additional doses for 10 million people will be procured through the World Health Organization’s global vaccine project, known as COVAX.

10:40 a.m. Japan’s household spending rose 1.9% in October from a year earlier, the first rise in 13 months, government data shows. The country’s economy also grew an annualized 22.9% in the July-September period, better than the initial estimate of a 21.4% expansion, revised data from the Cabinet Office shows, as it rebounded from a COVID-induced recession.

10:30 a.m. Brazil says it is in advanced talks with Pfizer to buy 70 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and a memorandum of intent should be signed this week. The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, whose final trial results showed a 95% success rate, will be delivered next year, the health ministry said. Earlier on Monday, President Jair Bolsonaro said the government will offer COVID-19 vaccines to all Brazilians free of charge.

South Korea has arranged to procure COVID-19 vaccines for 44 million people from four companies and the World Health Organization’s global vaccine project.

  © AP

9:41 a.m. South Korea confirms 594 new cases, down from 615 a day ago. Total infections reach 38,755, with 552 deaths.

9:30 a.m. China reports 12 new cases for Monday, down from 15 cases a day earlier. Of the new cases, 10 were imported infections originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to five, from six cases a day earlier.

7:27 a.m. Japan’s cabinet is set to approve on Tuesday a third round of stimulus worth roughly 73.6 trillion yen ($706 billion), aiming to shore up an economy threatened by an upswing in coronavirus cases.

5:30 a.m. The Brazilian state of Sao Paulo plans to start inoculating residents with a Chinese-made vaccine candidate Jan. 25, Gov. Joao Doria says. Though the vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, is still being tested and has not received Brazilian government approval, the state is eager to start a vaccination drive as the pandemic shows no signs of subsiding.

3:30 a.m. California has enacted widespread restrictions on social and business activity for over 30 million people, including a ban on private gatherings of any size.

Separately, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the disease expert whom President-elect Joe Biden has chosen to be his chief medical adviser on the coronavirus, says the pandemic will worsen in the coming weeks as a result of infections during the holiday season. “Mid-January is probably going to be a bad time,” Fauci was quoted as saying at a news conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo warned that more restrictions are possible in his state. In New York City, indoor dining could be closed entirely, and in the rest of the state, indoor dining could be reduced to 25% of capacity.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will shut down indoor dining at New York City restaurants unless hospitalizations stabilize within five days.

  © Reuters

1:50 a.m. The World Health Organization so far has not had contact with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

“The U.S. is in transition and the team is not formed in full, so there can be no formal or organized discussions when they are in transition,” Tedros was quoted as saying at a news conference.

12:40 a.m. Looking to make up lost revenue, the Louvre in Paris will host a special auction that lets the highest bidder watch the annual examination of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” outside of its glass case.

Other prizes include a walk along the rooftop of the museum palace with French street artist JR, Reuters reports.

“The Louvre is suffering like all big museums around the world” and will lose up to 90 million euros ($109 million) in revenue this year, museum official Yann Le Touher was quoted as saying.

Monday, Dec. 7

11:15 p.m. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has announced his incoming administration’s health team.

Among the picks is Vivek Murthy, an American of Indian descent, who will return as surgeon-general — a position he held under Barack Obama. Murthy is a physician, research scientist, and former vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, according to his bio.

9:45 p.m. SoftBank Group has opened a COVID-19 testing site in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo where people can having saliva samples tested for coronavirus.

The site is able to handle about 500 tests a day, with plans to increase capacity to 1,000 tests by February.

This marks the Japanese technology group’s second such site in Japan. The first is in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Donald Trump in the virtual G-20 meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia in November.

  © Reuters

8:28 p.m. Italy will hold a health summit in Rome next May during its presidency of the Group of 20 major economies and hopes world leaders will attend, according to Reuters.

If heads of state accept the invitation, it would be the first such in-person meeting for global chiefs since 2019, after the coronavirus pandemic reduced the main G-20 and Group of Seven summits this year to virtual meetings. The global health summit is scheduled for May 21 in Rome and will focus on the handling of the pandemic.

7:23 p.m. Next year’s Paris Airshow has been canceled as the aerospace industry continues to weather the coronavirus crisis, a spokesperson for the French organizers said on Monday.

6:06 p.m. Taiwan’s exports have risen 12% in November from a year ago for the fifth consecutive month and at a stronger-than-expected pace, boosted by surging global demand for electronic goods as people work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and amid new phone launches.

Exports jumped to $31.99 billion in November, the second highest on record for any month, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday.

5:29 p.m. Russia has granted approval for clinical trials to be held for the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Ad5-Ncov involving 8,000 volunteers, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday. Ad5-nCoV is a vaccine candidate co-developed by CanSino Biologics and a Chinese military-backed research unit.

4:50 p.m. Russia confirms 28,142 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours on Monday, including 7,279 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 2,488,912 since the pandemic began. Authorities say 456 people died overnight, taking the official death toll to 43,597.

4:39 p.m. South Korean President Moon Jae-in calls on Monday for expanded coronavirus testing and more thorough tracing as the country is struggling to control its latest and largest wave of infections. Moon says testing sites should stay open for longer to allow people to get tested after work and that more drive-through testing facilities should be set up. Starting next week, testing centers will begin using a test kit designed to more easily gather samples from saliva. The centers will also start using antigen tests as a stopgap.

3:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 299 new infections, down from 327 a day earlier, with the number of patients in serious condition increasing by one to 55.

3:00 p.m. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer by volume, has sought emergency use authorization in the country for AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, its CEO says. The experimental vaccine can be stored at 2 to 8 C and can be distributed relatively easily in India. Serum’s move follows Pfizer’s application for similar authorization of its vaccine candidate on Saturday.

2:31 p.m. China’s Clover Biopharmaceuticals has cleared the hurdle of initial evaluation by Philippine vaccine experts. It now moves to a final review by the country’s food and drug administration before its COVID-19 vaccine can go to clinical trials, according to Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire.

2:04 p.m. India reports 32,981 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 36,011 the previous day, bringing the country total to 9.68 million. Deaths jumped by 391 to 140,573.

1:00 p.m. A Thai reentering the country illegally from COVID-hit Myanmar has alarmed Chiang Mai, a northern province that was particularly popular with Chinese visitors before the pandemic. The woman, in her late 20s, returned with two female friends on Nov. 24 after working at the 1G1 hotel and casino in Tachilek, Myanmar. The entertainment complex is 1.5 km from an official border crossing to Mae Sai in Thailand, but the trio used an irregular crossing point in order to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine. After visiting a number of crowded places in the north, she fell ill, and she and her friends tested positive for COVID-19. Subsequently a 32-year-old Thai DJ working at 1G1 also tested positive.

12:30 p.m. Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura tells reporters he has asked the central government to send nurses from the Self Defense Forces to help operate the prefecture’s new COVID-19 treatment facility for seriously ill patients, opening on Dec. 15. Chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato had said Monday morning that Japan was prepared to send SDF nurses to Osaka and Hokkaido, Japan’s main northern island, upon request to help treat the two prefectures’ surges in infections. Hokkaido has seen infection clusters at two hospitals and is set to ask the government to send nurses.

11:30 a.m. Japanese ad agency Dentsu says it will slash nearly 6,000 employees who engage in foreign markets — a 12.5% cut in that part of its workforce — as companies cut their spending on advertisements amid the pandemic. The Tokyo-based company said Monday that it expects to register consolidated loss of about 23.7 billion yen ($227 million) for the year ending December.

10:04 a.m. South Korea confirms 615 cases, down from 631 a day ago, bringing the country’s total to 38,161 with 549 deaths. The government will tighten social distancing rules in greater Seoul from Tuesday, closing karaoke bars, gyms and indoor sports centers. Discount stores, hair shops and movie theaters must close by 9 p.m.

Sinovac Biotech aims to complete construction of a second production facility by the end of the year, giving it an annual vaccine capacity of 600 million doses.

  © Reuters

9:40 a.m. China’s Sinovac Biotech has secured $515 million in funding from a domestic company, Sino Biopharmaceutical, to double the production capacity of its coronavirus vaccine, the companies say. Sinovac expects efficacy data on its experimental shot this month. Sino Biopharmaceutical said on Monday a business unit will invest $515 million in Sinovac Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Sinovac, to help in the development and production of the vaccine, CoronaVac. In a separate statement, Sinovac said it will be able to manufacture 300 million vaccine doses annually and aims to complete construction of a second production facility by the end of the year to increase the annual vaccine capacity to 600 million doses.

7:30 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for COVID-19, Trump says. The 76-year-old Giuliani is the latest in a string of people close to the White House, including Trump himself, sickened in the pandemic. “@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus,” Trump said, using a term for the disease that has drawn criticism.

4:30 a.m. Britain is preparing to become the first country to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week, initially making the shot available at hospitals before distributing stocks to clinics, the government said on Sunday. Footage posted by the National Health Service showed boxes containing doses of the vaccine being delivered to Croydon University Hospital in London and being stored in a special, securely locked fridge.

A health worker collects a swab sample from a woman amid the spread of COVID-19 in Mumbai on Dec. 1.

  © Reuters

2:10 a.m. Pfizer has applied for emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine in India, a senior government health adviser says. The U.S. drugmaker approached Indian authorities on Saturday, according to V.K. Paul. India’s drug regulator usually takes up to 90 days to decide on such applications, but a decision on Pfizer’s vaccine could come much faster, he said.

12:57 a.m. Indonesia has received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China, President Joko Widodo says. Indonesia has been testing the vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech since August. The initial 1.2 million doses are expected to be followed by an additional 1.8 million doses in early January.

Sunday, Dec. 6

3:04 p.m. South Korea will impose heightened social distancing rules for capital Seoul and surrounding areas, health officials say. The decision comes after the government implemented unprecedented measures on Saturday in a country that had seen initial success through aggressive contact tracing and other steps. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency has reported 631 new cases as of midnight Saturday — the largest daily tally since a peak in February and early March — bringing the country’s total to 37,546, with 545 deaths.

10:25 a.m. Australia’s Victoria state eased COVID-19 restrictions after the country’s pandemic hot spot recorded 37 days without any new coronavirus infections, moving toward a “COVID-safe” holiday season. From midnight on Sunday, up to 100 people will be able to attend such public gatherings as weddings, with density rules of one person per 2 sq. meters staying in place, while 50% of office workers will be able to return to workplaces by Jan. 11, up from 25% now, the state’s premier said.

8:09 a.m. California’s two most densely inhabited regions and its agricultural breadbasket will be under stay-at-home orders by Sunday night as the COVID-19 pandemic strains hospitals in the most populous U.S. state, officials say. The order affecting Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will close bars, hair salons and barbershops, and allows restaurants to remain open only for takeout and deliveries.

2:52 a.m. Turkey has entered its first full weekend lockdown since May as deaths from coronavirus more than doubled in less than three weeks to hit record highs, with daily infections now among the highest numbers recorded globally. The daily death toll rose to a record high of 196 on Saturday, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 14,705. Official daily deaths were in the 70s at the end of October.

Saturday, Dec. 5

7:44 p.m. Iran’s total death toll from coronavirus surpasses 50,000 with 321 new fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours, the health ministry says, as cases in the Middle East’s worst-affected country reach 1,028,986.

5:29 p.m. Moscow begins distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force says. The task force says the Russian-made vaccine will first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they run the highest risk of exposure to the disease.

3:04 p.m. Tokyo records 584 daily infections, the highest level on record. The tally exceeds the 570 logged on Nov. 27. The number of people with serious coronavirus symptoms totals 55, up two from Friday, according to the metropolitan government.

9:34 a.m. South Korea reports 583 new cases, slightly down from the previous day’s 629, the highest in nine months. This brings the country’s total tally to 36,915, with 540 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reports.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week’s latest updates.