The United Kingdom in another step in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic has authorized use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine making it the second vaccine, after it first approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in early December.
With the latest move, the shot is expected to be rolled out next week as the UK has ordered 100 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – enough to vaccinate 50 million persons, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, this will cover the entire population, when combined with the full order of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
According to government statistics, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been given to 600,000 persons in the U.K.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said the first doses of the vaccine were being released Wednesday “so that vaccinations may begin early in the New Year.”
U.K. government minister Michael Gove had said Monday that the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could accelerate the lifting of strict lockdowns in the country, which effectively canceled Christmas festivities for millions.
Millions more people in England are expected to be placed under the toughest tier four restrictions.
Britain registered a new daily record for coronavirus cases on Tuesday confirming a total of 53,135 new Covid cases in 24 hours, the highest single day rise since mass testing began.
Cases have been on the rise as the fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus makes its presence felt as the country also recorded 414 fatalities in a single day.
Iraq: At least 32 Dead As Twin Suicide Bombings Hit Central Baghdad
At least 32 persons have been killed and 110 wounded on Thursday after twin suicide bombings ripped through a busy market in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Iraqi officials said one of the two perpetrators lured a crowd of people towards him in a market in the central Tayaran Square by feigning illness, only to detonate his explosives.
Ministry of Defence Spokesperson Yahya Rasool told Al Jazeera a second bomber struck as people helped victims of the first attack.
The attack is the first twin bombing in Baghdad since January 2018, when 35 people were killed and 90 injured in the same square that was targeted on Thursday.
Iraq’s health minister Hassan Mohammed Al-Tamimi said at least 32 people were killed and 110 others were wounded in the attack. He said some of the wounded were in serious condition. Iraq’s military previously put the number of dead at 28.
Videos from Thursday’s attack show scenes of chaos, with people running for cover and bodies strewn across pavements and the road.
Biden, Harris’ First Actions After Inauguration
Joseph Biden, junior, now the forty-sixth president of the United States after being sworn-in on Wednesday, has promised to move the country forward in the path of unity.
In his inaugural address, number 46 said “democracy has prevailed.” As he addressed the sober, no surprises inaugural event, Biden called on Americans to put aside the bitter divisions that have deepened over the past four years.
On his first day as president, Biden signed seventeen executive orders dismantling trump-era policies. The action sweeps aside Trump’s pandemic response, reversed his environmental agenda, and tore down his anti-immigration policies.
Biden placed his hand on a five-inch thick Bible that has been in his family for one hundred twenty-eight years as he took the 35-word oath of office that was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Vice-president Kamala Harris also jumped into action within an hour of being sworn-in. She returned to Capitol Hill to administer the oath of office to newly elected democratic senators including the two from Georgian.
Harris has made history as the first woman, the first African American, and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected vice-president. She is now the highest-ranking woman in U.S. history.
UN Chief Welcomes US Re-Entry Into Paris Agreement
In that rash of executive orders, the United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord. And the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres wasted no time welcoming the U.S. back into the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Former president Donald Trump had withdrawn the country from the global pact last November.
Guterres warned in his statement there is still a very long way to go as the climate crisis continues to worsen with time running out to limit temperature rises to no more than one and a half degrees celsius, and to build more climate-resilient societies.
Executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, also expressed on twitter, a warm welcome back for the U.S. re-entry into the agreement.
Just about every country in the world had agreed to the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 after lengthy negotiations. The agreement aims to tackle climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and sets a worldwide target of limiting the rise in average global temperatures no higher than two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.