Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

People attend an open air mass in Nantes

(Reuters) - Britain asked its regulator to assess AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for a possible rollout, while the Philippines and Thailand secured millions of doses, giving the shot a vote of confidence after experts raised questions about trial data.


* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of COVID-19, open in an external browser.

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals for a case tracker and summary of news.


* The COVID-19 epidemic in Britain is shrinking slightly, with the reproduction "R" number estimated to be below 1, hinting at the impact of England's second national lockdown in bringing infections down, government scientists said.

* Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the virus.

* The number of infections in Germany surpassed the one million mark and the daily death toll hit a record of 426, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

* Russia plans to vaccinate more than 400,000 military personnel against COVID-19.


* Masked shoppers turned up in smaller numbers at major U.S. retailers on Black Friday as early online deals and worry about the spike in cases dulled enthusiasm for trips to the mall.

* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he will not take a vaccine, while the governor of Sao Paulo state floated the idea of rolling out one without approval from the national health regulator.

* Argentines in their thousands packed into the streets of Buenos Aires to pay their last respects to flawed soccer genius Diego Maradona, despite virus concerns.


* Malaysia has agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to announce a deal with the U.S. drugmaker after some expressed reservations over the need for ultra-cold storage.

* Five patients were killed in India in a fire that broke out in a COVID-19 ward, the fourth blaze in a coronavirus hospital since the outbreak began, which drew angry questions from the Supreme Court.

* The Philippines will get 2.6 million shots of a potential vaccine developed by AstraZeneca under the country's first supply deal for a coronavirus vaccine, senior officials said.


* Kenya's central bank has cut its forecast for 2020 economic growth by more than half, joining the Treasury in realising that the coronavirus had inflicted more damage to the economy than previously thought.

* Mass vaccination against COVID-19 is unlikely to start in Africa until midway through next year and keeping vaccines cold could be a big challenge, the continent's disease control group said on Thursday.


* Ten COVID-19 vaccines could be available by the middle of next year if they win regulatory approval, but their inventors need patent protection, the head of the global pharmaceutical industry group said.

* Russia will allow Hungarian doctors and medical experts to observe the manufacturing process and laboratory tests for its Sputnik V vaccine, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

* Colchicine, a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug, will be investigated as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial, the study website posted.


* World stocks remained on course for their best month ever on Friday as recent vaccine progress, Joe Biden's U.S. presidential election win, hopes for further stimulus, a commodity surge and descending dollar all lifted the spirits. [MKTS/GLOB]

* Germany plans to almost double the borrowing it had planned for next year to finance emergency aid for businesses, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said.

(Compiled by Linda Pasquini, Anna Rzhevkina, Ramakrishnan M.; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta and Louise Heavens)