• This daily 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 stories: Moderna vaccine set for US approval; South Korea reports record rise in cases; EU set to approve Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 73.5 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.63 million.

New South Wales, Australia, has reported its first COVID-19 case in nearly two weeks, after an airport worker tested positive.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine appears set for US approval, after Food and Drug Administration staff endorsed it as safe and effective.

Italy could tighten restrictions over Christmas to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said yesterday.

One-in-10 people in Spain have had COVID-19, according to the latest stage of a nationwide antibody study. It suggests around 4.7 million have had the virus, far more than the 1.75 million reported cases.

62% of International Monetary Fund lending in response to COVID-19 has gone to 21 countries in Latin America, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said yesterday.

The British government is coming under pressure to change a plan to relax rules over the Christmas. Two major medical journals - the British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal - in just their second joint editorial in more than 100 years, called for a change of course.

COVID-19

How is the World Economic Forum helping to identify new technologies to fight COVID-19?

As part of work identifying promising technology use cases to combat COVID, The Boston Consulting Group recently used contextual AI to analyze more than 150 million English language media articles from 30 countries published between December 2019 to May 2020.

The result is a compendium of hundreds of technology use cases. It more than triples the number of solutions, providing better visibility into the diverse uses of technology for the COVID-19 response.

To see a full list of 200+ exciting technology use cases during COVID – please follow this link.

2. South Korea reports record rise in cases

South Korea has reported a record daily rise in COVID-19 cases - 1,078. It comes three days after the daily total topped 1,000 for the first time.

The number of severe cases has also doubled over the past two weeks, leaving just three critical care beds left in the greater Seoul area, according to officials.

Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea
South Korea is seeing a third wave of infections.
Image: Our World in Data

“The top priority is securing more hospital beds,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting, according to a transcript. “Full administrative power should be mobilized so that no patient would wait for more than a day before being assigned to her bed.”

3. Europe set to approve vaccine

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said an expert panel will meet on 21 December to evaluate the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

EMA said its expert meeting was brought forward after the companies had provided more data, as requested, and the EU Commission would fast-track its procedures to rule on approval “within days”.

It means the first Europeans are likely to be vaccinated before the end of the year. Germany, France, Italy and five other European countries are set to coordinate the start of their vaccination programmes.