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Coronavirus live updates: WHO experts probing pandemic origins travel to China

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narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 90.2 million people worldwide and killed over 1.9 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

Jan 11, 9:29 am
Moderna vaccine doses arrive in France

More than 50,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna are expected to arrive in France on Monday, according to a statement from the country’s health ministry.

France should have nearly eight million doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of June, the health ministry said.

Last week, the European Medicines Agency authorized the Moderna vaccine for use across the European Union. Another COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech was approved two weeks earlier. Both vaccines are administered in two doses.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran told Europe 1 radio that the Moderna doses will then be sent to towns and cities with the highest virus circulation. The doses should reach vaccination centers by Wednesday, he said.

By the end of the weekend, Veran said, more than 100,000 people should have received a first dose of the vaccine.

France has faced criticism for a slow vaccine rollout compared to its EU neighbors.

Jan 11, 7:24 am
Mexico detects first case of UK variant

A new, more infectious variant of the novel coronavirus that was first detected in the United Kingdom has now been discovered in Mexico.

The strain, called B117, was confirmed in a 56-year-old foreign citizen who had traveled from Amsterdam to Mexico City on Dec. 28, and then to the northeastern city of Matamoros the following day. The individual was asymptomatic when he arrived in the country, according to Mexico’s director general of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia Zegarra.

After testing positive for COVID-19, the man was admitted to a Mexican hospital last week where he remains intubated, Zegarra said.

Genomic sequencing of the patient’s sample that tested positive for COVID-19 revealed its B117 lineage. More than 500 suspected cases of the U.K. variant have been tested in Mexico, but this is the country’s first verified case, according to Zegarra.

Mexican health authorities are tracking contacts of the patient, including people who traveled on the same flight. Two individuals who showed symptoms have since tested negative for COVID-19, while another 31 are asymptomatic and remain in isolation. Officials have been unable to locate 12 others, Zegarra said.

The highly contagious strain has become prevalent in London and other parts of southeast England, after first being identified in the English county of Kent in September. The B117 variant has since been detected in over a dozen other countries.

Jan 11, 6:40 am
Seychelles becomes first African nation to roll out COVID-19 vaccine

Seychelles, an island nation of just under 100,000 people, has begun immunizing its population against COVID-19 with a vaccine developed by China’s state-owned pharmaceutical company, Sinopharm.

Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan became the first African head of state to receive the Sinopharm vaccine on Sunday, as the country officially launched a national COVID-19 immunization campaign — the first in Africa to do so. The Seychelles Ministry of Health began administering the shot to priority groups on Monday, starting with health care professionals and other front-line workers, according to a press release from the president’s office.

Last month, China authorized Sinopharm’s vaccine for general use after the company announced that preliminary data from late-stage trials had shown it to be 79.3% effective. The shot is administered in two doses.

The United Arab Emirates donated 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Seychelles. India offered 100,000 doses of another COVID-19 vaccine developed by England’s University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which are due to arrive in Seychelles at the end of the month, according to the president’s office.

“With such a robust vaccination campaign, Seychelles aims to be the first country in the world to vaccinate at least 70% of its over 18 population,” Ramkalawan said in a statement Sunday. “From there, we will be able to declare Seychelles as being COVID safe. This will allow us to reopen our economy.”

Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago located off the coast of East Africa, has reported 508 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including at least one death, according to the latest data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jan 11, 5:44 am
US reports over 213,000 new cases

There were 213,905 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Sunday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the sixth straight day that the country has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections. Sunday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 302,506 new cases, which the country logged on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.

An additional 1,814 new deaths from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide Sunday, down from the country’s peak of 4,194 fatalities on Jan. 7, according to Johns Hopkins data.

COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the holidays followed by a potentially very large backlog.

A total of 22,409,131 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 374,329 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.

The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.

Jan 11, 5:16 am
WHO experts probing virus origins travel to China, as country marks one year since 1st COVID-19 death

A group of experts from the World Health Organization are set to arrive in China on Thursday for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s National Health Commission confirmed the upcoming visit in a brief statement Monday, saying the WHO team would be meeting with Chinese scientists to conduct joint scientific research on the virus’ origin. It’s unclear exactly where they will be carrying out their research and whether they will travel to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in December 2019.

The visit follows negotiations between both sides, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressing disappointment last week over delays with the probe.

Meanwhile, China marked one year on Monday since confirming its first death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. China’s National Health Commission has since reported more than 87,000 cases of COVID-19 on the Chinese mainland, including at least 4,634 deaths, though those figures are believed to be much higher.

Jan 11, 4:30 am
Russia detects first cases of UK variant

A new, more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus that was first detected in the United Kingdom has now been discovered in Russia.

The strain, called B117, was confirmed among four Russian citizens who had tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning from the U.K., Russia’s chief sanitary doctor, Anna Popova, told reporters Sunday evening.

After being identified in England in late December, B117 has become prevalent in London and other parts of southeast England.

Last month, Russia joined the growing list of countries to suspend flights from the U.K. amid rising COVID-19 infections and concerns about the highly infectious variant there.

With more than 3.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, Russia has the fourth-highest tally of diagnosed infections in the world, followed by the U.K., according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Russia confirmed 23,315 new cases and 436 additional deaths from the disease on Sunday, according to the country’s coronavirus headquarters.

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