UK in 'eye of the storm' amid surging new coronavirus cases

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"Over the past 24 hours, 27,039 coronavirus cases were confirmed in 85 regions, including 4,080 cases (15.1 percent) without clinical symptoms", the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 3,186,336 with the rate of increase at 0.9 percent.

That's almost twice as many as the No. 2 country, India, and almost one-quarter of the more than 83 million cases globally.

Worldwide hopes that COVID -19 vaccines will bring a rapid end to the pandemic in 2021 have been shaken by the slow start to the United States vaccination programme, which has been beset by logistical problems and overstretched hospitals.

Tanna Ingraham places a sheet over the body of a patient who died inside the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., December 30, 2020.

To slow the death toll, Senator Mitt Romney on Friday urged the US government to enlist veterinarians and combat medics to give out coronavirus vaccinations. However, Biden acknowledged that it "will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated".

Hopes for a quick end to the pandemic have been dashed by the sluggish start to the USA vaccine campaign, which is beset by logistical challenges and overloaded emergency rooms.

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Regarding travel, Fauci said that the United States could potentially issue passports of the Covid-19 vaccine, similar to those raised by Israel, that would allow residents travel overseas unnecessarily to get tested for the coronavirus.

The United States has the largest number of infections at 20,007,149.

Criticism of the slow pace of the vaccine rollout has grown louder in recent days.

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The World Health Organization on Thursday granted emergency validation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, paving the way for countries worldwide to quickly approve its import and distribution.

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