Pfizer blamed supply chain problems, as the firm will deliver only 50 million vaccine doses this year. Germany's health minister has called for tougher measures in high-infection areas. Follow DW for the latest.
US pharma giant Pfizer has said that it will deliver 50 million doses this year of its COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed by German firm BioNTech. The new forecast represents half of the 100 million doses the firm had originally hoped to deliver, a company spokeswoman told US newspaper The Wall Street Journal.
Pfizer blamed supply chain problems for the reduction in its delivery target, saying it took longer than expected to ramp up the supply of raw materials. The firm added that the results of a clinical study were available later than expected, which also played a role in halving the delivery target.
The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is reported to be 95% effective against coronavirus and has already been approved by both the United Kingdomand Bahrain, which has followed in the footsteps of the UK by granting emergency use authorization for the vaccine. So far just two countries have announced they are ready to begin inoculating their citizens.
DW rounds up the most important developments around the world.
Multinational technology firm IBM warned that it uncovered several cyber-attacks, potentially carried out by state actors, against companies involved in distributing vaccines. IBM said the European Commission' Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union was one target, as well as European and Asian companies that were not disclosed.
US: President-elect Joe Biden has said he would voluntarily take a vaccine and pledged to keep US infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci in his current role.
Biden added he would ask Americans to commit to wearing masks for 100 days as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of a nationwide mandate.
US pharma giant Moderna plans to make more than 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available in the first quarter of 2021, adding that it expects to have 20 million doses available in the US by the end of this year.
Costa Rica: The Central American nation signed an agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer for manufacturing and delivering 3 million vaccines next year, said the office of President Carlos Alvardo on Thursday.
Deliveries will be made throughout the year, as established in an initial agreement announced in October, according to a statement from the president's office. Along with accords with AstraZeneca and Covax, about 60% of the country's population would receive vaccines by the end of 2021.
Japan: Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have said that their already extended budget will balloon by a further €2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) due to delays and extra coronavirus-related health regulations.
The games were delayed from summer 2020 until 2021 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already expressed its confidence that there will be spectators in attendance.
South Korea: Some 629 new COVID cases in the previous 24 hours were reported in South Korea, the highest daily increase in nine months despite tighter restrictions on people's movement.
The mayor of the capital Seoul, Seo Jeong-hyup, announced that most establishments in the city will have to close by 9 p.m. starting Saturday.
Austria: Voluntary mass testing has begun in Vienna and the western Vorarlberg and Tyrol pronvinces. The process consists of quick antigen tests which, if they come out positive, will be confirmed by a further conventional test within 24 hours.
The country plans to start ending its strict lockdown in a matter of days and it is hoped that mass testing, with support from the Austrian military, will prevent further hard lockdowns in the future.
Germany: The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units has surpassed 4,000 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some 31 new patients were transferred to the ICU taking the total number to 4,011. According to official calculations that left around 5,000 intensive care beds free in Germany.
Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for additional restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in parts of Germany with very high COVID-19 infection numbers.
Germany posted 23,449 new coronavirus infections and 432 deaths from the virus, according to the Robert Koch Institute's daily report.
jcg,kbd,jsi/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)