* A new variant of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly in Britain has been found in Germany for the first time, the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said.
* Turkey will sign an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech for 4.5 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered by the end of March, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
* French President Emmanuel Macron is showing no more symptoms of COVID-19, the Elysee office said.
* Denmark has identified 33 infections with the new variant of the coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly in parts of Britain.
* Prime Minister Ana Brnabic received Serbia's first COVID-19 vaccine shot, kicking off a mass inoculation drive with doses developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
* US lawmakers blocked attempts to alter a $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and government spending package, rejecting President Donald Trump's demand for extensive changes and leaving benefits for millions of Americans at risk.
* US states, facing a backlog in administering coronavirus vaccines, are asking medical and nursing students, and even firefighters, to help give the shots and free up healthcare workers battling a raging pandemic at overcrowded hospitals.
* Mexico inoculated its first person against COVID-19 to kick off a fightback from a pandemic that has killed 120,000 people in the country and battered the economy, celebrating a Christmas roll-out that also began elsewhere in Latin America.
* China will suspend direct flights to and from Britain indefinitely over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus, Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
* Indonesia has banned travelers from Britain and tightened the rules for those arriving from Europe and Australia to try to limit the spread of a new coronavirus variant.
* China's capital Beijing on Thursday issued a series of coronavirus-related advisories ahead of the peak travel season from New Year's Day to the Chinese Lunar New Year in February, but it stopped short of imposing draconian restrictions.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Another new variant of the novel coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of Africa's disease control body said, cautioning more investigation was needed.
* Israel will impose a third national lockdown to fight surging COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as the country pursues a vaccination campaign.
* A COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech is 91.25% effective, according to interim data from a late-stage trial in Turkey, a potentially much better result than reported from a separate trial of the vaccine in Brazil.
* Worries over a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia are clouding the outlook for what has historically been a seasonally strong period for equities.