• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: India nears 5 million cases; new restrictions in France; progress on global health facing major setbacks.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 29.2 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths now stands at more than 928,000.

India has reported its lowest daily jump in new confirmed COVID-19 cases for a week - 83,809. It brings total confirmed cases to 4.93 million, with the death toll having crossed the 80,000 mark.

For the first time in two months, Victoria, Australia has recorded no deaths from coronavirus. The state has been the epicentre of the disease in the country.

South Korea plans to secure early supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for 30 million people - or 60% of its population, Reuters reports.

Marseille and Bordeaux have imposed stricter rules, as France battles a surge in cases. There are new restrictions on beach gatherings, visiting the elderly in care homes and attendance at outdoor public events.

Jordan will suspend schools from Thursday, and close public markets, restaurants and places of worship after a spike in cases. “These measures are harsh as they are, but we hope they will reduce infections and prevent a large outbreak that would lead to a total shutdown that would have catastrophic consequences,” Health Minister Saad Jaber said in televised remarks.

Canada's three largest provinces are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, with doctors warning schools reopening will increase demand for tests.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to use his annual address next week to push for a global ceasefire until the end of year, to allow countries to fight the pandemic.

coronavirus COVID-19 cumulative cases
Comparing cumulative confirmed cases.
Image: Our World in Data

2. Setting progress back on health

The coronavirus pandemic has halted and set back global health progress, according to a new report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Extreme poverty has increased by 7%, says the report, with the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on women, minorities and those living in extreme poverty.

“We’ve had nearly 40 million people thrown back into extreme poverty," said Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Gates Foundation. "That’s well over a million a week since the virus hit.”

And, routine vaccine coverage has dropped to levels last seen in the 1990s - or “setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks”, the report's authors write.

Bill Gates said that while things are 'bleak' at the moment, there is cause for optimism. “Whether is takes us two years, or even three, we do believe that we’ll overcome this and get back on track,” he said.

Vaccines, Health and healthcare, Gavi

What is the World Economic Forum doing about access to vaccines?

In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was launched at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, with an initial pledge of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for all - wherever people live in the world.

Along with saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years,through the vaccination of nearly 700 million children, - Gavi has most recently ensured a life-saving vaccine for Ebola.

At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi's partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of years of energy and commitment from Merck; the generosity of Canada’s federal government; leadership by WHO; strong support to test the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the West Africa outbreak; and the rapid response and dedication of the DRC Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance, and how you can contribute to the improvement of access to vaccines globally - in our Impact Story.

3. Rising use of foodbanks

A UK charity is also warning about the impact of the pandemic. A new analysis for the Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks across the country, forecasts a 61% increase in food parcels needed between October and December compared to the same period last year.

That's the equivalent of 6 parcels distributed every minute, say the charity. Many people have turned to food banks for the first time during the pandemic, they add.

“Our research finds that Covid-19 has led to tens of thousands of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time," said Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.

"This is not right. If we don’t take action now, there will be further catastrophic rises in poverty in the future.”