Coronavirus live updates: BioNTech vaccine will likely work on UK variant, company says

By ROSA SANCHEZ and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 77.2 million people worldwide and killed over 1.6 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Dec 22, 5:10 amBioNTech vaccine will likely work on UK variant, company’s CEO saysBioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin is confident that the pharmaceutical company’s coronavirus vaccine will work against the new U.K. variant of the virus.”We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant,” Sahin told a news conference Tuesday, after the vaccine was approved for use in the European Union. “But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.”He explained that the proteins on the U.K. variant are 99% the same as the ones on the original strain, so BioNTech has “scientific confidence” that its vaccine will be effective on the variant as well.Still, more studies need to be done.”But we will know it only if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data,” Sahin said. “The likelihood that our vaccine works … is relatively high.”

Dec 22, 1:45 amOver 60 arrested at superspreader events in LA CountyLos Angeles officials arrested over 60 people involved in underground parties over the weekend. In a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the parties were considered superspreader events, as they violated COVID-19 health protocols.Around 10:45 p.m. Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department responded to an underground party event in Los Angeles and found two people shot. One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement from the LASD.  Then, at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, officers responded to another underground party in Compton, where they arrested 67 people: 61 adults and six juveniles. One firearm was recovered.  A third underground party, located in Los Angeles, was shut down by the LAPD after a shooting took place. “Sheriff Alex Villanueva has made it clear he will seek out and take law enforcement action against all underground party events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County, who fall under the Health Orders of the County’s Department of Public Health,” the LASD said in their statement. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”

Dec 22, 1:09 amBiden applauds COVID relief package but says more work is neededPresident-elect Joe Biden has applauded the COVID-19 relief bill passed Monday by the House and Senate. In a tweet early Tuesday morning, Biden voiced his approval of the package, but warned that Congress still has more work to do in the new year. “I applaud this relief package, but our work is far from over. Starting in the new year, Congress will need to immediately get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan. My message to everyone out there struggling right now: help is on the way,” he tweeted.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.