Merkel praises BioNTech scientists for his or her vaccine work, and different information from world wide.

On Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a virtual visit to the headquarters of BioNTech, the German company behind the mRNA vaccine developed in collaboration with Pfizer. Their coronavirus vaccine is the first to be approved for emergency use in countries like the US, UK, and Canada.

“We are incredibly proud to have such researchers in our country,” said Ms. Merkel, a trained quantum chemist, in an opening speech by video. She also congratulated Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, the husband and wife BioNtech founder and her team.

The event was a ray of hope on an otherwise gloomy day in Germany when health authorities registered 33,777 new coronavirus infections, a daily record. It also recorded 813 daily deaths, the second worst daily number since the pandemic began.

The European Union is expected to approve the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine next week. Officials said on Thursday.

Germany expects to receive 11 to 13 million doses of the vaccine once approved and will begin administering doses on December 27, the country’s health minister Jens Spahn said Friday. The first to receive it will be people over 80 and residents of nursing homes, followed by the nurses and doctors who care for them, Spahn said.

The vaccinations will be voluntary, and Mr Spahn said officials would like to see as many people as possible accept the shots. However, he urged people to be patient and continue to obey regulations on wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping a safe distance.

Other coronavirus news from around the world:

  • India As of Friday, about 20,000 cases were away from the record of the 10 millionth coronavirus infection. The total number of cases in the country is the second largest in the world after the US. Dozens of million migrant workers were stranded after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a national lockdown in March and the emergency trains bringing them back to their villages spread the coronavirus across the country. India has reported 144,789 Covid-19 deaths, the third largest number after the US and Brazil.

  • SpainThe northeastern region of Catalonia announced tightening lockdown restrictions on Friday as infections skyrocket. The rules, which are in effect from Monday through at least January 11th, limit the size of groups that are allowed to collect and tighten restrictions on restaurants and bars. Several other Spanish regions have also introduced new measures in the last few days. On Thursday, Valencia limited family reunions to six, while the Balearic Archipelago stated that visitors from mainland Spain would be required to present a negative coronavirus test result before arriving.

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