Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the government was on alert on the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK but said there was no need to panic. The Ministry of Civil Aviation also announced its decision to ban all flights to the U.K. from December 22 midnight until December 31 in an effort to keep out a new highly infectious coronavirus strain that is rapidly spreading in England.
Meanwhile, the EU finally gave the green light for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, paving the way for the first inoculations to start across 27 countries just days after Christmas.
Here are live updates:
COVID-19 norms go for a toss at BJP MLA’s wedding
Social distancing norms were flouted at a BJP MLA’s wedding here, with hundreds of people attending it and many of them, including senior party leaders, not bothering to wear masks. Viral videos of the wedding showed State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intearcting with people at close quarters without wearing masks.
Ram Satpute, a first term MLA from Malshiras Assembly constituency in Solapur district got married in Erandwane area of Pune on Sunday.
The videos show that no social distancing was followed at the wedding. Maharashtra government’s unlock guidelines stipulate that up to 50 people can attend a marriage ceremony, but hundreds were seen at the ceremony, many of them without masks.
Russia, AstraZeneca to test combination of COVID-19 shots
Developers of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V on Monday announced signing an agreement with AstraZeneca to test a combination of the British drugmaker’s COVID-19 shots and a component of the vaccine created in Moscow.
The developers of Sputnik V proposed the approach to AstraZeneca last month, suggesting it could increase the effectiveness of the British vaccine. The company announced on December 11 a study to test the combination, and on Monday signed a memorandum of cooperation with Moscow-based medical research facility the Gamaleya Institute, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Russian drugmaker R-Pharm.
EU approves Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine
The EU finally gave the green light for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, paving the way for the first inoculations to start across 27 countries just days after Christmas.
The decision was rushed through under pressure from European governments after Britain and the United States authorised the jab weeks earlier.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the vaccine developed by US pharma giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech for use, and the European Commission formally approved it hours later.
(With inputs from agencies)