Fireworks are seen above Sydney Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 1, 2021. Australia's New Year's Eve celebrations have been hampered by fresh COVID-19 cases in Sydney and Melbourne, with the public urged to spend the occasion at home. (Photo: Xinhua)
* A vaccine developed by a unit of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is 79.34% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 and the company has filed an application for regulatory approval in China for its general public use.
* A new variant of the novel coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study by Public Health England.
* A more infections variant of COVID-19 that has swept through the United Kingdom has been identified in Florida, marking the third known US state to identify such a case.
* Large crowds took to the streets at midnight in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, celebrating the arrival of 2021 after a year marred by a deadly pandemic that killed thousands there and required the city to be locked down between the end of January and early April.
* Australia welcomed 2021 with subdued celebrations as fresh coronavirus restrictions and border closures at its two most populous states forced families to ditch New Year plans.
* Canada will require air travellers aged 5 and up to test negative for COVID-19 before arrival, starting Jan. 7.
* Brazil reported more than 1,000 deaths from the coronavirus for a third day in a row.
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked citizens for their commitment in 2020 and called for continuous solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in her New Year's speech on Thursday.
* Russia recorded 27,039 more COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, slightly down from 27,747 a day earlier, the country's COVID-19 response center said Friday. The national tally of COVID-19 cases has increased to 3,186,336, including 57,555 deaths and 2,580,138 recoveries, the center said.
* Another 55,892 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, marking the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in the country, according to official figures released Thursday. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 2,488,780, the data showed.
* Bulgaria's COVID-19 cases and deaths in 2020 reached 202,266 and 7,576, respectively, according to data published by its Unified Information Portal midnight Friday. The Balkan country reported 1,046 new infections and 61 deaths in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, 1,192 people recovered, raising the total recoveries to 119,527, showed the data.
* Chad has locked down its capital N'djamena for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic and has declared a dusk to dawn curfew due to a rise in infections.
* About 4,000 additional positive tests for COVID-19 in the last two to three days have yet to be formally confirmed in Ireland, meaning the situation is worse than recent record daily figures suggest, a senior health official.
* All travellers entering Norway will have to take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival from Jan. 2, the country's justice ministry said.