Janet Yellen, US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Treasury Department, will tell the Senate Finance Committee that the government must “act big” with its next coronavirus relief package.
* The European Union wants to set up a mechanism that would allow the sharing of surplus vaccines with poorer neighbouring states and Africa, the EU health chief said, in a move that may undercut a WHO-led global scheme.
* The European Commission recommended at least 70% of the European Union’s adult population be vaccinated by this summer.
* The Dutch government will announce further measures to fight the coronavirus this week amid fears new mutations could soon start spreading, the health minister said.
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers agreed to extend a lockdown for most shops and schools until February 14 as part of a package of steps to try to rein in the coronavirus, sources told Reuters.
* The EU’s executive has warned this month that national plans so far for spending a record 1.8 trillion euros from the bloc’s joint coffers were too poor to fly, sources told Reuters.
* The Philippines will buy 20 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, adding to deals for a total of 72 million doses from AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sinovac.
* India, one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, will start exports of COVID-19 vaccines as early as Jan. 20, government sources said.
* Taiwan cancelled a major festival during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, while Hong Kong will extend work-from-home arrangements for civil servants until January 27.
* China defended its early actions taken to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, saying it immediately notified the World Health Organization (WHO) and took “the most comprehensive, thorough, strict prevention and control measures”.
* Janet Yellen, US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Treasury Department, will tell the Senate Finance Committee that the government must “act big” with its next coronavirus relief package.
* Biden plans to quickly extend travel restrictions barring travel by most people who have recently been in much of Europe and Brazil soon after President Donald Trump lifted those requirements effective January 26.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Kuwait has registered its first cases of a more contagious coronavirus variant in two Kuwaiti women who had been in Britain.
* Nigeria will seek to procure vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities, the head of the country’s primary healthcare agency said, as more than 2 600 Nigerian physicians have contracted COVID-19 and dozens have died.
* Palestinians expect to receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine by the weekend, officials said.
* A candidate vaccine known as EpiVacCorona, Russia’s second to be registered, proved “100% effective” in early-stage trials, Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has told local media.
* Global shares climbed and the dollar eased ahead of Janet Yellen’s Treasury Secretary confirmation speech, in which she is expected to bolster the case for heavy fiscal stimulus in the world’s largest economy.
* Oil demand recovery will take a hit from a spike in new coronavirus cases before vaccine roll-outs and stimulus measures help in the second half of the year, the International Energy Agency said.
* Government support is keeping roughly one in ten German companies afloat that would otherwise have gone bust during the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund has found.
* Czech car production fell by 19.2% in 2020 to its lowest level since 2014 due to shutdowns and weak export demand, the Automotive Industry Association said.