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A COVID-19 lockdown remains in place as an outbreak of cases affects Sydney
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(Reuters) - Booster shots to bolster immunity against the coronavirus would be free and accessible, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday, a day after federal health agencies backed a booster rollout, and he pledged to get his own shot as soon as possible.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* England's COVID-19 weekly reproduction "R" number was estimated to have fallen to between 0.8 and 1.0, the government said, and the epidemic could be shrinking in the country.

* Norway will reopen society on Saturday, the government said, ending all remaining domestic restrictions that have limited social interaction and hobbled many businesses.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. CDC backed a booster shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older, adults with underlying medical conditions and adults in high-risk working and institutional settings.

* The White House said millions of federal contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 and that the administration will add clauses to future government contracts mandating inoculations.

* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's son and two members of his cabinet said they had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing to four the number of close aides diagnosed since the far-right leader's trip to the United Nations.

* The COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech will be the only one used in Mexico for at-risk children aged 12-17, Mexico's deputy health minister said.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* South Korea has set a record for daily COVID-19 cases at 2,434, breaking the previous record set last month, as the country grapples with a wave of infections that began in early July, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

* More than half of Australia's adult population were fully vaccinated as of Friday, as authorities step up inoculations in the hope of easing restrictions with cases near daily record levels in Victoria.

* Singapore will tighten curbs to limit social gatherings to two people and make working from home a default, to try to contain a spike in infections and reduce pressure on the healthcare system.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Tunisia will entirely lift its nightly curfew against COVID-19 from Saturday, the presidency said, after about a year in force.

* Egypt has authorised Russia's single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19, said the Russian Direct Investment Fund which markets the shot abroad.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Sinovac's vaccine is highly effective against serious illness, although rival shots from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca showed better protection rates, a large real world study from Malaysia showed.

* Indian drugmaker Shilpa Medicare Limited has agreed to produce Cadila Healthcare Ltd's three-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

* Pfizer is in discussions with Singapore's Health Sciences Authority regarding a full license application for its COVID-19 vaccine, the company said in response to a query from Reuters.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* European equity markets fell and major U.S. indexes were little changed as worries over fallout from debt-laden China Evergrande persisted, while U.S. bond yields pushed higher after hawkish stances from central banks.

(Compiled by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Milla Nissi and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Barbara Lewis and Anil D'Silva)

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