Here are the top updates of the day:

10.49 pm: Pharmaceutical company Merck gives up on development of two potential coronavirus vaccines following poor results in early-stage studies, reports PTI.

8.05 pm: The president speaks about how India is helping the world combat the coronavirus crisis. “Today, India is being rightly called ‘pharmacy of the world’ as we are supplying medicines and other healthcare items to several countries to alleviate people’s suffering and contain the pandemic across the globe,” he says. “Now we also provide vaccines to other countries.”

8.01 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind praises India’s vaccine development efforts. “A self-reliant India has manufactured its own vaccine for Covid-19, and is now undertaking a mass vaccination drive, which will be the largest exercise of its kind in history,” Kovind says. “The administration and health services are working with full readiness to make this exercise a success. I urge upon the country men to utilise this lifeline and get vaccinated as per guidelines. Your health opens the way for your advancement.”

7.58 pm: The president recounts how India emerged from the strict lockdown. “In order to open up the economy without risking the lives of the people, the process of unlocking was carefully calibrated,” he says. “This has proved effective and the economy has started showing indications of recovery faster than anticipated.”

7.56 pm: The president praises India’s fight against the coronavirus crisis. “Given our country’s population density, diversity of cultural traditions, natural and geographical challenges, taking precautionary measures against Covid-19 was far more difficult for us,” he says. “Yet, we have managed to check the spread of the virus to a large extent.”

7.54 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind, in his address to the country on the eve of Republic Day, praises the country’s scientists for developing vaccines within a short span of time. He says their achievement is historic.

6.36 pm: American drug maker Merck says it will stop the development of its coronavirus vaccines as trial data showed them failing to generate immune responses, Reuters reports.

6.27 pm: French health regulator Haute Autorite de Sante says the coronavirus situation in the country is worrying, according to Reuters. “We are looking at the figures, day by day,” the regulator says. “We need to take measures pretty quickly....but at the same time, not too hastily.”

6.23 pm: Australia approves the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Reuters reports. The country is likely to begin vaccinating priority groups in late February.

6.19 pm: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is considering tightening border quarantine rules because of the “vaccine-busting” coronavirus variants, Reuters reports.

4.12 pm: The Centre asks the states to take penal action against those found to be involved in spreading rumours about the safety of coronavirus vaccines, PTI reports.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a letter to the chief secretaries of all states, says that the two vaccines cleared by India are safe. “However, it has been reported that unfounded and misleading rumours are circulating on social and other media, creating doubt about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines,” he says.

Bhalla adds: “Such kind of rumour mongering, particularly by vested interests, can create unwarranted doubts among people at large, and there is, therefore, a need to check all such kinds of unfounded scare mongering relating to the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccines.”

1.51 pm: Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai says that his company will open up its spaces in the United States to serve as mass coronavirus vaccination centres and is committed more than $150 million (over Rs 1.09 thousand crore) to promote vaccine education.

1.17 pm: Telangana records 148 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, pushing the state’s tally to 2,93,401, reports PTI. The toll rises to 1,590 with one more death recorded in 24 hours.

12.48 pm: Delhi’s healthcare infrastructure was able to withstand the burden of the coronavirus crisis because of the reforms introduced by the Aam Aadmi Party government in recent years, claims Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, reports PTI. “In many developed countries and cities like New York, the health infrastructure collapsed, but measures like home isolation prevented such a situation in Delhi,” he adds.

11.32 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says his government admitted everyone who got sick, even those who had mild symptoms of the coronavirus, to hospitals, reports ANI. “I hope this year we’ll get rid of Covid-19,” he says. “It was a difficult phase. People lost jobs, it was tough for the government too as no tax was received and we wondered how to pay salaries to our employees.”

11.25 am: Tata Medical & Diagnostics is likely to start discussions with US-based company Moderna for a partnership to launch its Covid-19 vaccine in India, reports The Economic Times, citing people familiar with the developments.

11.13 am: New Zealand registers first cases of coronavirus outside of a quarantine facility in more than two months, reports BBC. Health officials are undertaking contact tracing and published a list of locations the infected woman visited.

11.09 am: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports CNN. “The symptoms are mild, but I am already receiving medical treatment,” Lopez Obrador says. “As always, I am optimistic. We will move forward.”

11.04 am: Uttarakhand government says devotees will only be allowed at Kumbh Mela only after producing a coronavirus negative RT-PCR report, issued not later than 72 hours, reports ANI. The government says that the devotees will have to download the Aarogya Setu app. People over 65 years, pregnant women, those who ill and children below 10 years of age are advised not to come, adds the government.

9.45 am: India reports 13,203 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,06,67,736. India’s toll rose by 131 to 1,53,470. The number of active cases stand at 1,84,182, while the recoveries reach 1,03,30,084.

9.20 am: The Indian Council of Medical Research says 19,23,37,117 Covid-19 samples were tested till Sunday. As many as 5,70, 246 tests were conducted on January 24.

9.08 am: A White House official says United States President Joe Biden will reimpose coronavirus travel restrictions on most non-American citizens who have been in Britain, Brazil, Ireland and most of Europe, reports AFP. The official adds that Biden will also extend the ban to travelers who have recently been to South Africa amid warnings that a more transmissible coronavirus variants are already establishing themselves in the US.

9.02 am: Denmark’s State Serum Institute says the coronavirus variant first discovered in Britain is spreading at an alarming rate and is not responding to established ways of slowing down the pandemic, reports The Washington Post.

9.01 am: England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says that there is no clear evidence yet to show that people vaccinated against the coronavirus cannot transmit the infection on to others, reports PTI. He urges the public to continue to follow the strict lockdown rules because any vaccine-related immunity from Covid-19 takes at least three weeks to kick in.

Here are the top updates from Sunday

  • India reported 14,849 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,06,54,533. The new cases are 4% than Saturday’s count. India’s toll rose by 155 to 1,53,339.
  • The country’s active cases stood at 1,84,408, while the number of recoveries reached 1,03,16,786.
  • As many as 15,82,201 people have been vaccinated in the country till 8 am on Sunday.  
  • Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 9.87 crore people and killed over 21.20 lakh, according to John Hopkins University. Over 5.44 crore people have recovered from the infection in the world.