About another 13,000 people have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a quarter of them Americans.
The confirmed death toll is now 1.83 million, with more than 87 million confirmed infections - both counts generally understood to be underestimates.
Here's the latest on the pandemic from around the world overnight.
More people in the United States are now hospitalised with COVID-19 than at any time since the global pandemic began, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, and state and local officials face growing pressure to speed up vaccine distribution.
US COVID-19 hospitalisations reached a record 130,834 late on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, while 3684 reported fatalities was the second-highest single-day death toll of the pandemic.
Japan's COVID-19 cases reached a new daily record on Wednesday, as the government faced mounting pressure from health experts to impose a strict state of emergency for the Tokyo greater metropolitan area.
New infections nationwide reached at least 6001, a new daily record according to a tally by national broadcaster NHK. Tokyo reported 1591 cases, also an all-time high. Without new measures, daily infections in Tokyo could nearly triple to 3500 per day by February and hit 7000 by March, according to simulations.
Chinese authorities on Wednesday imposed travel restrictions and banned gatherings in the capital city of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, in the latest escalation of measures to stave off another coronavirus wave.
The province, which entered a "wartime mode" on Tuesday, accounted for 20 of the 23 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China on January 5, more than the total of 19 cases in the province in the three previous days.
China played down World Health Organization (WHO) concerns about a delay in authorisation for a visit by team of experts looking into the origins of the novel coronavirus, saying arrangements were being worked out.
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Tuesday he was "very disappointed" that China had not authorised the entry of the team for the investigation, which he said was a WHO priority.
Ukrainian police are investigating reports that some citizens have been illegally inoculated against COVID-19 with vaccines that have not been officially approved, and charged up to 3,000 euros per dose, senior officials said on Wednesday.
Turkey reported 13,830 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,283,931. It reported 191 related fatalities over the same period, raising the total death toll to 22,070.
South Korea rolled out mass testing for 52 prisons after a massive prison outbreak and decided to extend flight suspensions from Britain.
The United Kingdom has recorded more than 1000 COVID-19 daily deaths for the first time since April. The four nations of the United Kingdom recorded 1041 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus on Wednesday and a further 62,322 new COVID-19 cases, according to official data.
Schoolchildren in England will not sit formal exams this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, education minister Gavin Williamson said on Wednesday, with teachers to assess students and decide their grades instead.
Several protesters who oppose the new national lockdown in Britain were arrested by police on Wednesday outside the UK parliament while lawmakers were due to vote on new measures to combat surging cases of coronavirus infection.
Norway is preparing legislation that would allow it to introduce curfews after new cases hit record levels, its justice minister said.
Some Czech crematoriums are near or at capacity due to a spike in coronavirus deaths, and they are looking for alternative cremation sites, Interior Minister JanuaryHamacek said on Wednesday. The country's 12.7 deaths per million using the latest seven-day average was the world's highest rate.
Ireland on Wednesday ordered the closure of most schools and construction sites for at least three weeks in an effort to curb a sharp spike in COVID-19 infections, tightening a lockdown that has already closed most hospitality and retail outlets.
Ireland is to drop a ban on travellers from Britain and South Africa from Saturday and will instead require them on arrival to provide a negative COVID-19 test from the previous 72 hours, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said on Wednesday. The measure will remain in place at least until the end of January.
Italy reported 548 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday against 649 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 20,331 from 15,378.
A top Swedish government official closely involved in the country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic offered to resign on Wednesday, after a public outcry over his Christmas vacation on Spain's Canary Islands.
Dan Eliasson, head of the Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), the body responsible for the management of emergencies and public safety, has asked the government to transfer him out of his job, the MSB said in a statement.
Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has tested negative for COVID-19 after being in contact with someone who is infected and will not stay in self-isolation as the exposure was considered low risk, his office said on Wednesday.
The daily number of COVID-19 cases in Portugal, a nation of just over 10 million people, reached a record high of 10,027 on Wednesday, as the country prepares to approve an extension of a state of emergency to fight the worrying increase in infections.
A variant of the coronavirus first detected in South Africa is unlikely to completely negate the immunising effects of vaccines, a researcher studying it said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it is carefully monitoring allergic reactions to the coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and urged individuals who had a serious reaction not to get the second dose.
A second COVID-19 vaccine won regulatory approval in Europe on Wednesday and the Netherlands belatedly launched its vaccination campaign as European countries accelerated a patchy drive to defeat the coronavirus pandemic. The green light for Moderna's vaccine from the European Medicines Authority, and later the European Commission, was a big boost for European hopes of containing the disease.
Reuters / Newshub.