Nov 5 (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Pfizer antiviral pill cuts risk of severe COVID-19 by 89%
A trial of Pfizer's experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 was stopped early after the drug was shown to cut by 89% the chances of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of developing severe disease, the company said.
The results appear to surpass those seen with Merck & Co's pill, molnupiravir, which was shown last month to halve the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized for COVID-19 patients also at high risk of serious illness.
Gene linked to doubling risk of death found by UK scientists
British scientists have identified a gene that doubles the risk of dying from COVID-19, providing new insights into why some people are more susceptible to the disease than others, while opening up possibilities for targeted medicine.
Around 60% of people with South Asian ancestry carry the high-risk gene, researchers at Oxford University said. The discovery partly explains the high number of deaths seen in some British communities, and the effect of COVID-19 in the Indian subcontinent.
Russia says pandemic worsening in some regions
The pandemic has worsened in 10 Russian regions despite a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown designed to curb a surge in infections, a senior Russian official said.
At least five out of 85 regions have decided to extend the "non-working days", announced by President Vladimir Putin last month, into next week.
Germany agrees booster shots for all
Germany's COVID-19 situation is entering a very difficult period with rising numbers of intensive care patients, health minister Jens Spahn said, as German state leaders warned the country may need a new lockdown unless it takes urgent action.
Spahn said he had agreed with regional health ministers that in future everyone should be offered a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine six months after receiving their previous injection.
England's COVID prevalence steadies
The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England remained at around 1 in 50 people in the week ending Oct 30, a school half-term break, Britain's Office for National Statistics said, steadying at its highest level of the year.
The ONS said that prevalence was unchanged from the previous week, after five straight weeks of rising infections.
Croatia tightens measures to fight spread of virus
Amid new record-high daily infections Croatia decided on Friday to tighten measures against the spreading of the disease, including introducing obligatory digital certificates for public sector employees.
Croatia reported 6,932 new cases on Friday, the highest daily number since the beginning of the pandemic. Slightly over 50% of around four million Croats are fully vaccinated and experts largely blame a low vaccination rate for a large increase in the number of infections in recent weeks.
Australia's biggest states open borders
Australia's Victoria state removed entry restrictions to citizens of neighbouring New South Wales on Friday, allowing almost blanket reciprocal travel between the country's two biggest states ahead of the busy Christmas period.
Travel between the pair, home to more than half Australia's 25 million population, has been severely disrupted for months because of an outbreak of Delta variant-fuelled cases. (Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.