UK tops 3m COVID-19 cases
Pope, Queen Elizabeth II join vaccine drive
Published: Jan 10, 2021 06:38 PM

A health worker receives her COVID-19 vaccine along with other social care workers at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne, northeast England, on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II became the latest high-profile figures to join the global vaccination campaign against the coronavirus, as the UK reported it had surpassed more than 3 million cases since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

More than 1.9 million people worldwide have now died from the virus, with new variants adding to soaring cases and prompting the re-introduction of restrictions on movement across the globe - even as some countries begin mass inoculation campaigns.

Pope Francis urged people to get the vaccination, calling opposition to the jab "suicidal denial" and saying he would get inoculated against the virus himself next week when the Vatican would begin its campaign.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip received their COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday, Buckingham Palace said, in a rare public comment on the private health matters of the long-serving monarch.

A source told the domestic Press Association news agency that the queen, 94, and Philip, 99, were given the injections by a royal household doctor at Windsor Castle.

More than 1.5 million people in Britain have so far received virus jabs, as the biggest immunization program in its history rolls out with priority given to the elderly, their carers and health workers.

Countries across the globe are following suit, starting up massive vaccination campaigns with several coronavirus shots approved so far, including those by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and domestically made jabs from Russia and China.

Britain, which has so far administered two types of vaccines, is racing to inoculate as many people as possible as a new variant believed to be more contagious pushes infections and deaths to unprecedented levels.

British health authorities on Saturday said the country had recorded more than 3 million coronavirus infections since the pandemic began in 2020.

The country also recorded another 1,035 fatalities from the virus, taking the total death toll to 80,868, one of the highest in Europe alongside Italy.

Cases also continue to spiral in the US, the world's worst hit country, which ­recorded more than 272,000 new cases Saturday. 

More than 22 million people have been infected and 372,051 have died of ­COVID-19 in the US since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

India will launch one of the world's most ambitious coronavirus-free vaccination drives on Saturday, aiming to reach 300 million people by July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Cuba, meanwhile, said it would test its most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Iran, after Tehran banned the import of already-proven US and British-produced vaccines. 
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