• 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: Global deaths pass two million; GDP growth in China; India begins vaccination programme.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 95 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.03 million.

Demand for remote workers in Britain tripled over the course of 2020, according to data from a recruitment consultancy.

The Portuguese health system is under 'extreme pressure', Health Minister Marta Temido said yesterday, as the country grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 infections in Ghana are rising rapidly, including new strains of the virus not seen before in the country, President Nana Akufo-Addo said yesterday. Rising cases threaten to overwhelm healthcare systems.

Austria has extended its COVID-19 lockdown. It's hoped shops, museums and personal services, like hairdressers, will reopen from 8 February. Catering and tourism sectors will stay closed until at least March.

Hospital worker, Manish Kumar, became the first person in India to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, as the country's immunisation campaign began.

Pakistan has approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first to be approved in the country.

What is Gavi?

Gavi is an Alliance launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2000. It has contributed to the immunization of nearly 700 million children, saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years.

Gavi was launched 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 children, wherever they live. It brings together the best efforts of UN agencies, governments, the vaccines industry and civil society to improve childhood immunization in developing countries and accelerate access to new vaccines.

Gavi works closely with our System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare. Contact us to help improve the state of healthcare globally.

2. Global deaths pass two million

Global deaths from COVID-19 have passed two million, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

The highest number of deaths have been reported in the United States, followed by Brazil and India.

Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths globally
The figure is likely not even a true reflection of the actual total.
Image: Our World in Data

Reuters reports that it took nine months to pass one million deaths, but just three months to move from one to two million.

“Our world has reached a heart-wrenching milestone,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video statement.

“Behind this staggering number are names and faces: the smile now only a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table, the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one,” he said.

3. Economic growth in China

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.3% in China in 2020, according to official data. It makes China the only major global economy to avoid a contraction.

A Reuters poll suggests GDP growth this year could hit 8.4%.

GDP also grew rapidly in the fourth quarter, expanding 6.5% year-on-year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

“The higher-than-expected GDP number indicates that growth has stepped into the expansionary zone, although some sectors remain in recovery,” Xing Zhaopeng, economist at ANZ in Shanghai.