Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.
US President Joe Biden has unveiled his plan for fighting the pandemic this winter. Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline has said its COVID-19 therapy appeared to work against the new omicron variant. Follow DW for the latest.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his new plan to fight the coronavirus over the winter.
He called on US citizens to get vaccinated and get booster shots but did not lay out new major restrictions on daily life. Biden called for bipartisan backing for the plan.
"I know COVID-19 has been very divisive. In this country, it's become a political issue... A sad, sad commentary. It shouldn't be, but it has been," Biden said.
The new plan comes as the US detected multiple cases of the new omicron variant. One was a man who attended an anime convention in New York City in late November and later tested positive upon returning home to Minnesota. Five more cases in New York were confirmed on Thursday, bringing the total number of omicron cases in the US to eight.
Here are some more coronavirus headlines from around the world:
British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said its antibody-based COVID-19 therapy, developed in partnership with US-based VIR Biotechnology, also worked against the new omicron variant of the virus in a pre-clinical analysis.
The trials were carried out on hamsters that had been infected with bio-engineered versions of coronavirus with mutations similar to those of the omicron variant. Further testing is set to be carried out on the sotrovimab therapy.
The UK on Thursday approved the drug to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID symptoms.
The monoclonal antibody "was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease," said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Thursday.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) began its rolling review of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by French-Austrian biotech company Valneva on Thursday. The EU already has a deal to acquire 60 million doses.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her incoming successor Olaf Scholz met regional leaders on Thursday to finalize new COVID measures.
They announced plans to introduce a lockdown for the unvaccinated and raised the question of compulsory vaccination by February.
The country has seen a massive surge in infections in recent days,
Germany reported 73,209 new infections on Thursday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI). The seven-day incidence fell slightly for the third day in a row, currently standing at 439.2 against 442.9 a day earlier.
France recorded its first case of omicron on the mainland on Thursday, near the capital Paris. Previously the variant had been found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
The country's top scientific adviser Jean-Francois Delfraissey said that the "true enemy" was still the delta variant, but that omicron could take over as the dominant variant by the end of January.
Norway reported that at least 50 people in and around the capital city of Oslo have been infected with the omicron variant.
The outbreak was traced back to a company's Christmas party at a restaurant. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said that there was "high vaccination coverage" among those infected.
Dutch authorities said more than half of the passengers who flew in from South Africa and were held in quarantine after testing positive will be allowed to leave on Thursday. They also revealed that most of those who were infected had been fully vaccinated.
Sweden’s health agency has said it could impose new restrictions to fight the pandemic as early as next week.
Greece has passed legislation to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for all residents over the age of 60. Greeks over 60 have until January 16 to get their first jab or face fines of €100 ($113) for each month they remain unvaccinated.
The United Kingdom has reached a deal with BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna to purchase 114 million more COVID vaccines in light of the omicron variant. The deal includes access to any modified jabs needed to combat the new strain.
"These new deals will future proof the Great British vaccination effort – which has so far delivered more than 115 million first, second and booster jabs across the UK – and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead," Health Minister Sajid Javid said.
Italy's medical agency has approved the BioNTech-Pfizer for children between the ages of 5 and 11.
India's Health Ministry confirmed the first two recorded cases of the omicron variant on Thursday. The outbreak of the delta variant earlier in the year hit India particularly hard.
South Korea has recorded a fresh new high of 5,266 new COVID infections, a day after the country reported more than 5,000 cases for the first time.
The country also confirmed its first five omicron cases late Wednesday. All infections were linked to arrivals from Nigeria, prompting South Korea to tighten border controls. The country will now require a 10-day quarantine for all inbound travelers for two weeks starting Friday. Previously, exemptions were given to fully vaccinated people.
Japan has reversed its ban on new incoming international flight bookings after facing criticism over the emergency precaution a day after it was first announced.
The Transport Ministry had issued a request to international airlines to stop taking new reservations for flights coming into Japan until the end of this month over concerns about the new omicron variant.
"The request, issued as an emergency precaution, triggered confusions," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Thursday.
Indonesian authorities have tightened border curbs, extended quarantine requirements, and limited movement on strategic toll roads to preemptively limit the spread of the omicron variant. Southeast Asia's largest country is yet to report a case of the new variant.
Saudi Arabia has recorded the Gulf's first omicron case, followed soon after by the United Arab Emirates.
"One case of the omicron variant has been detected in the kingdom — it was a citizen coming from a North African country," a Saudi Health Ministry official said.
Neighboring United Arab Emirates also detected its first case of the variant in an "African woman arriving from an African country via an Arab country," the Health Ministry said on Twitter.
Israel's Supreme Court has upheld the right of the intelligence agency to track mobile phones in a bid to curb the spread of the new omicron variant.
The court rejected an appeal from several rights groups. Officials have said that only those confirmed or suspected to have contracted the new variant will be tracked.
ab, see/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)