London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “‘major incident’ due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus across the capital and the increase of Covid-19 cases in hospitals, which has left the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed,” his office wrote in a press release.
He took the decision as the number of Covid-19 cases in London exceeded “1,000 per 100,000” putting increased pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), which saw patient numbers rise by 27% between December 30 and January 6.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point. If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die,” Khan said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Moderna became the third Covid-19 vaccine to be authorized by UK regulators. The government has agreed to purchase an additional 10 million doses on top of its previous order of 7 million, the UK Department of Health announced Friday.
However, it comes as the UK recorded 1,162 Covid-19 related deaths on Thursday, the highest toll since the first peak in April.
Germany’s coronavirus-related daily death toll has reached an all-time high, of 1,188 deaths in the past day. The previous record was 1,129, recorded on December 30 last year.
The German Health Ministry said Friday it will receive over 60 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine via the EU. In addition, there is a secured option for another 30 million doses nationally. From Moderna, Germany will receive 50 million doses via the EU alone, with additional doses being negotiated nationally.
This means from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna alone, Germany has the potential to receive at least 140 million vaccine doses this year.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa warned Friday that the country will have some tough weeks ahead as Covid-19 cases continues to rise.
On Thursday, the country topped two million cumulative Covid-19 cases, with numbers doubling in just the last 11 weeks, according to a running CNN tally pinned on data released by its Ministry of Health.
Long called an outlier for not implementing a full-scale coronavirus lockdown like its European neighbors, Sweden moved in a more conventional direction on Friday, when its parliament voted in favor of an act that would allowed stricter restrictions.
This will include banning public gatherings, if necessary, and it effectively gives the government the legal right to impose a “lockdown” of whatever degree.
The European Union continues its drive to secure vaccines for its member states. On Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU will extend its contract with Pfizer/BioNTech for “up to an additional 300 million vaccines” in 2021 — doubling the amount of doses from that vaccine.
Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) expects AstraZeneca to submit a “conditional marketing application” for its Covid-19 vaccine “next week,” the regulatory body said in a statement on Twitter on Friday.