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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Doses of Canada’s first COVID-19 vaccine arrive shortly (and if you have these allergies, you should skip the shot)
  2. How six Canadian charities have adapted to COVID-19′s chilling effects
  3. Canada’s history shows that, when it comes to vaccination, details matter

Worth watching: Facebook Live Q&A on coronavirus vaccines

Science reporter Ivan Semeniuk and health reporter Kelly Grant will answer reader questions on Facebook live on Tues., Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET.

In Canada, there have been at least 454,847 cases reported. In the last week 45,325 new cases were announced, 3 per cent more than the previous week. There have also been at least 368,474 recoveries and 13,350 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 14,248,812 tests.

Coronavirus explainers: Coronavirus in maps and charts Lockdown rules and reopening Mask-wearing rules Back to school guide Essential resources

Photo of the day

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People sing as they attend a drive-in carol service organized by the Watling Valley Churches today in Milton Keynes, Britain.ANDREW BOYERS/Reuters

Coronavirus in Canada

First doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine are set to arrive in Canada on flights today and tomorrow, Major-General Dany Fortin, a former NATO commander who is leading the distribution of vaccines, told the CBC today. Yesterday, Health Canada warned that people allergic to ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine should forgo getting the shots.

  • Ontario is reporting another 16 deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,677 new infections today, down from 1,873 yesterday.
  • Quebec has recorded 1,994 new cases of COVID-19 today and 33 additional deaths linked to the virus. The regions with the most new infections were Montreal with 748, the Quebec City area with 235, and Monteregie, south of Montreal, with 196.
  • New cases of COVID-19 in the Atlantic provinces rose again by single digits, health authorities reported today. Nova Scotia added six and New Brunswick two.
  • COVID-19 is straining Manitoba patients awaiting surgery. The provincial government says its booking service that’s making appointments for eligible health-care workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations has received more than 100,000 phone calls since opening yesterday. But there are only 900 spots available.
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A woman wears a face mask as she walks by a festive storefront window in Montreal today as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Coronavirus around the world

  • Germany will close most stores from Wednesday until at least Jan. 10, cutting short the busy Christmas shopping season, as it tightens coronavirus restrictions and tries to rein in the spread of the disease, Chancellor Angela Merkel said today.
  • The first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the United States headed today from Michigan to distribution centres across the country, with the first shots expected to be given in the coming week to health care workers and at nursing homes. Yesterday, country music pioneer Charlie Pride died of complications from COVID-19 at 86; late last week, New Orleans stage and screen actor Carol Sutton died from complications at 76.
  • The Mexican government’s medical safety commission approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine right before the weekend, making it the fourth country to do so.
  • Britain’s AstraZeneca has agreed to buy U.S. drug maker Alexion Pharmaceuticals for US$39-billion in its largest deal, diversifying away from its fast-growing cancer business in a bet on rare-disease and immunology drugs.
  • Meanwhile, Italy eclipsed Britain to become the nation with the worst official coronavirus death toll in Europe.
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Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, U.S., December 13, 2020.POOL/The Associated Press

Globe opinion

  • Gary Mason: “As such, we now find ourselves at a crossroads: Do we allow encampments to exist more permanently but in less visible locations – made-in-Canada-style refugee camps – or do we finally attempt to solve homelessness in a meaningful way, with the massive financial investment that would entail?”
  • Marcus Gee: “Vaccination is even safer and more effective now, given all the advances since Salk. Consider: It took a half century from the discovery of the poliovirus to the release of a vaccine.”
  • Sophie Wilson: “Everyone is online because they have already chosen. They don’t want to see a doctor in person. They don’t want to catch COVID-19. They don’t want to wait, or drive into town.”
  • David Parkinson: “There may be a pretty significant gap between clearing the path for consumers to spend their ample stockpiles of cash and them actually doing so.”

More reporting

Information centre

Sources: Canada data are compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins University and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data are from Johns Hopkins.

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