(Reuters) - Several countries looked to approve coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford and Sinopharm, amid the spread of the virus variant, while U.S. infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci foresaw "some semblance of normality" by autumn 2021.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered millions more people to live under the strictest COVID-19 restrictions from Thursday to counter a new variant of the virus that is spreading at a "sheer pace" across the country.
* More than 500,000 people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will have their second dose delayed for up to 12 weeks as the NHS rethinks the rollout that is aimed at halting the surging death toll in the UK, the Guardian reported.
* A new strain of COVID-19 that reached Ireland from the United Kingdom is spreading faster than the country's most pessimistic forecasts, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.
* U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell dealt a likely death blow to President Donald Trump's bid to boost coronavirus aid to Americans, declining to schedule a swift Senate vote on a bill to raise relief checks to $2,000 from $600.
* A nurse in California tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week after receiving Pfizer Inc's vaccine, an ABC News affiliate reported.
* The coronavirus variant originally discovered in Britain has been detected in California, a day after the first known U.S. case was documented in Colorado.
* The leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he foresees America achieving enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain "some semblance of normality" by autumn 2021.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said officials were investigating a case of suspected abuse of power by a family to obtain shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
* Brazilian syringe and needle makers warned that the country's coronavirus vaccination program was at risk after the government set auction prices too low and failed to draw bids for enough syringes to meet its requirements.
* The COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was approved for use in El Salvador.
* Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinopharm.
* China approved its first COVID-19 vaccine for general public use on Thursday, a shot developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
* A province of islands in the southern Philippines will seal itself off for an initial two weeks from Monday to keep out a new COVID-19 variant found in nearby Malaysia.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Zimbabwe has postponed the re-opening of schools planned for next week due to a surge in coronavirus infections and a tropical storm sweeping through the region.
* A vaccine developed by a unit of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is 79.34% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 and the company has filed an application for regulatory approval in China for its general public use.
* A new variant of the novel coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study by Public Health England.
* Asian shares edged up on Thursday and were set to end a tumultuous 2020 at record highs, while growing investor hopes for a global economic recovery caused the dollar to fall further against most major currencies.
(Compiled by Bartosz Dabrowski and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Maju Samuel and Anil D'Silva)