* Russia reported its highest one-day death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic amid a surge in cases that has forced officials to partially reimpose some lockdown measures, encouraging many Russians to fly off for a foreign beach holiday instead of hunkering down at home.
* Finance minister Rishi Sunak used a stronger forecast for Britain's post-lockdown economic recovery to promise higher public spending and he vowed to protect households from the sharp rise in inflation that could approach five per cent next year.
* Germany's pandemic-related state of emergency looks set to expire next month after the three political parties in talks to form the next government said they did not support extending it.
* Moderna Inc's vaccine could start to be used in children and teens in the United States within weeks, its chief executive said in an interview ahead of the Reuters Total Health conference.
* COVID-19 is slowly retreating across most of North, Central and South America, the Pan American Health Organisation said, reporting that last week the continent's death and infection figures were the lowest in over a year.
* The head of the New York City firefighters union said he had instructed unvaccinated members to keep working, even though they feel "insulted" by Mayor Bill de Blasio's order to show proof of a vaccination by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave.
* Workers at the leading US meat packing plants experienced cases and death that were up to three times previous estimates, according to a report by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis seen by Reuters.
* Australia's vaccine advisory group finalised its advice on whether to formally approve a third shot.
* Two new cases were recorded in New Zealand's South Island city of Christchurch, the first in almost a year, as the country battles the spread of an outbreak of the infectious Delta variant.
* Thailand held a dry-run for its long-awaited, quarantine-free reopening to vaccinated travellers, as the country rushes to reboot an industry battered by an 18-month hiatus in international tourism.
* With 100 days until the start of the Winter Olympics, Beijing is promising a "simple and safe" 2022 Games, although China keeps battling flare-ups, with nearly 250 locally-transmitted cases reported since the start of the current outbreak.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Growth in sub-Saharan Africa's big economies will be mixed into 2022, after a year of recovery from lockdowns, as life slowly returns to normal amid low vaccination rates, a Reuters poll found.
* Novavax said it had completed the real-time submission of an application for the authorisation of its vaccine candidate in the United Kingdom.
* Merck has signed a licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool that will allow more companies to manufacture generic versions of its experimental oral antiviral treatment.
* Global equity markets gave up recent gains, while US Treasury yields fell to a two-week low as traders weighed continued positive corporate results and a resurgence in US-China tensions that could compound supply-chain worries.
Australian Associated Press