Europe tightened virus restrictions to face the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 as the worldwide death toll crossed 700,000.
Several European countries and cities reimposed tighter restrictions, including a “wake-up week” in Greece and new face mask and quarantine rules elsewhere.
A total of 703,640 deaths have been recorded so far around the world, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources as of 0300 GMT Thursday.
Europe remains the hardest-hit region with 211,764 fatalities, but the number of deaths is rising fast in Latin America, with 208,329 deaths recorded.
The US government Wednesday announced a new $1 billion investment in a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson, guaranteeing 100 million doses.
J&J, via its subsidiary Janssen, received $456 million in March.
With the latest deal, President Donald Trump’s administration has spent $9.4 billion on vaccine agreements, with five companies agreeing to provide at least 700 million doses, according to an AFP tally.
These deals, under Operation Warp Speed, foresee launching production in parallel with clinical trials, with the government taking the financial risk away from the private sector.
Moderna’s vaccine is one of three Western efforts in final stage human trials.
Inmates test positive
More than 500 inmates -- nearly half the population -- of a prison in the US state of Arizona have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials said, while at a California prison the virus death toll hit 22.
The Arizona Department of Corrections said Tuesday that 517 inmates at the ASPC-Tucson Whetstone prison “have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Those inmates “are currently being housed as a cohort together in separate areas and are receiving appropriate medical care. They will not be allowed back into the general population until they have been medically cleared,” its statement read.
The coronavirus has severely afflicted US jails and penitentiaries, home to the world’s biggest prison population, which comprises 2.3 million inmates.
Officials are unable to force adequate distancing in crowded cells and face shortages of medical personnel and personal protective gear.