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ESCHWEILER, Germany (AP) — As Germany inches toward the mark of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, the country's leader-in-waiting announced plans Wednesday to create an expert team at the heart of the next government to provide daily scientific advice on tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

BRUSSELS (AP) — This was supposed to be the Christmas in Europe where family and friends could once again embrace holiday festivities and one another. Instead, the continent is the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases soar to record levels in many countries.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Associations representing restaurants and catering businesses in Greece organized strikes and protests across the country Tuesday, seeking renewed financial relief from the government due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind.

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — At the main hospital in Romania's capital, the morgue ran out of space for the dead in recent days, and doctors in Bulgaria have suspended routine surgeries so they can tend to a surge in COVID-19 patients. In the Serbian capital, the graveyard now operates an extra day during the week in order to bury all the bodies arriving.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Santa won't be getting his traditional welcome in the Dutch city of Utrecht this year. The ceremonial head of Carnival celebrations in Germany's Cologne had to bow out because he tested positive for COVID-19. And Austria is planning a lockdown on unvaccinated people in two hard-hit regions.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer Inc. said Friday that its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% in high-risk adults, as the drugmaker joined the race for an easy-to-use medication to treat the coronavirus.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of intelligence officers could soon face dismissal for failing to comply with the U.S. government’s vaccine mandate, leading Republican lawmakers to raise concerns about removing employees from agencies critical to national security.

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatian authorities will limit gatherings and widen the use of COVID-19 passes to curb soaring infections after the numbers of infected people hit new records again on Friday.

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