As warnings about a “long dark winter” ahead intensify, with the NYT once again quoting scientists projecting death tolls and case tallies several times larger than what we have seen already, hospitalizations in the US have hit a new record high with more than 96k patients admitted to hospitals around the country.

However, even as daily tests now top 2 million, the number of new cases in the US is still falling, continuing an incipient trend that started just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Source: COVID Tracking Project

Still, the alarming surge in hospitalizations over the past month would suggest that higher death tolls might be in store, as rural hospitals are overwhelmed by the crush of severely ill patients.

Meanwhile, the biggest news on the vaccine front has to do with Pfizer’s latest vaccine development: the company has officially filed for emergency use approval in the EU on Tuesday – after making the same request of authorities in the US last week.

Outside the US, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered the country’s aviation authority to halt international commercial flights after health authorities reported the country’s first local cases in almost three months, according to a posting on the government’s website. The premier – who added that  “rescue” flights bringing Vietnamese home from abroad should continue – instructed the Ho Chi Minh City government to quickly trace and isolate everyone who came in contact with those who tested positive this week.

Here’s a roundup of COVID news from around the world and in the US:

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Ireland, one of the first countries in western Europe to return to lockdown in late October, began reopening its economy on Tuesday. Non-essential stores welcomed shoppers back. Restaurants will reopen later this week, as well as bars serving food. Bars that only serve drinks will remain closed (Source: Bloomberg).

Jean Stephenne, chairman of German biotech company CureVac NV, said he is confident the company’s Covid vaccine will be ready in the first quarter of 2021, and there is no reason to suggest its efficiency won’t match that of rivals. “We’re running a few months behind Pfizer, but confident on prospect for February-March,” he said (Source: Bloomberg).

The European Central Bank should focus on keeping financial conditions at current levels through the crisis rather than announcing a blockbuster stimulus package that beats market expectations, according to Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel (Source: Bloomberg).

Via Zerohedge