- This daily news round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
- Top news stories: WHO chief scientist warns pandemic not over; Indonesia set to urge G20 to establish global health fund; COVID-19 restrictions eased across Europe.
1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 411.9 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.81 million. More than 10.35 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority says it has granted interim authorization for Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine.
South Korea is set to begin giving out fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of February. The country will also supply millions of additional home test kits.
China’s medical products regulator has given conditional approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 drug Paxlovid. The move makes Paxlovid the first oral pill specifically developed to treat the disease to be cleared in the country.
A US decision on the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children aged from six months to four years has been delayed for at least two months after the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it needed more data.
Viet Nam is set to end COVID-19 restrictions on international passenger flights from 15 February.
The Cook Islands, the South Pacific nation that has not experienced COVID-19 in its community, is preparing for its first cases after an infected traveller visited, Prime Minister Mark Brown, said yesterday.
The US FDA has authorized Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody drug for people aged 12 and older who are at risk of severe illness.
Norway is set to scrap nearly all its remaining COVID-19 lockdown measures, as high levels of infections are unlikely to put health services at risk, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on Saturday.
Belgium has also announced further easing of its COVID-19 restrictions, with nightclubs reopening and concerts allowed with a standing audience.
And in France, people will no longer have to wear masks indoors in public places where entry is subject to the COVID-19 vaccine pass.
Hong Kong SAR, China, is being overwhelmed by an “onslaught” of COVID-19 infections, leader Carrie Lam has warned.
The COVID Response Alliance to Social Entrepreneurs – soon to continue its work as the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship – was launched in April 2020 in response to the devastating effects of the pandemic. Co-founded by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship together with Ashoka, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business.
The Alliance provides a trusted community for the world’s leading corporations, investors, governments, intermediaries, academics, and media who share a commitment to social entrepreneurship and innovation.
Since its inception, it has since grown to become the largest multi-stakeholder coalition in the social enterprise sector: its 90+ members collectively support over 100,000 social entrepreneurs across the world. These entrepreneurs, in turn, have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of an estimated 2 billion people.
Together, they work to (i) mobilize support for social entrepreneurs and their agendas; (ii) take action on urgent global agendas using the power of social entrepreneurship, and (iii) share insights from the sector so that social entrepreneurs can flourish and lead the way in shaping an inclusive, just and sustainable world.
The Alliance works closely together with member organizations Echoing Green and GHR Foundation, as well as the Centre for the New Economy and Society on the roll out of its 2022 roadmap (soon to be announced).
2. WHO chief scientist: Pandemic not over
World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday that the world is not yet at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic as there will be more variants.
“We have seen the virus evolve, mutate … so we know there will be more variants, more variants of concern, so we are not at the end of the pandemic,” Swaminathan told reporters in South Africa, where she was visiting vaccine manufacturing facilities with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
During the same visit, Dr Tedros urged African nations to back efforts to create an African medicine regulator. Tedros said that continental institutions like the planned African Medicines Agency are important because they could cut costs and help fight counterfeit or poor-quality drugs.
3. Indonesia set to urge G20 to establish global health fund
Indonesia will urge the G20 group of leading economies to establish a global body that can dispense emergency funds during a health crisis, functioning in a similar way to international financial institutions, its health minister said on Friday.
Under the current system, countries are “basically on their own” if they need emergency funds, vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostics, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a news conference, adding that Indonesia will seek to change this during its G20 presidency this year.
“There is no global health institution that has enough power or money to jump in and help, you are basically on your own,” he said.
The idea adds to a proposal by Indonesia and the US last year to create an international pandemic response system.