• 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: Pandemic adds $24 trillion to global debt; Mexico calls for more equitable vaccine roll-out; India to test arrivals from UK, South Africa and Brazil.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 109.9 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.43 million.

India is making COVID-19 molecular tests mandatory for people arriving – either directly or indirectly – from the UK, South Africa and Brazil in a bid to prevent the spread of more infectious variants.

US President Joe Biden has told 10 top union leaders that his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan and a separate measure to modernize US infrastructure will boost the US economy and create millions of jobs.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will begin a gradual return to normal life – on a province-by-province basis – from March.

South Africa launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive yesterday, with a roll-out of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the first time outside a major clinical trial.

Switzerland plans to make its first 'cautious steps' towards ending its COVID-19 lockdown from next month, the government has said.

Britain has proposed a UN Security Council resolution calling for ceasefires to allow for COVID-19 vaccinations in conflict areas around the world.

A report in the US suggests the pandemic changed the way consumers use credit. Home buying boomed, spurred by lower interest rates, while credit card use fell and paying off of debt rose.

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. Mexico calls for more equitable vaccine distribution

Mexico made a plea at the UN Security Council yesterday, calling on countries to stop hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, as poorer ones fall behind in the race to vaccinate.

Three-quarters of the first doses have been applied to citizens in only 10 countries – accounting for 60% of global GDP – Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

“We urge countries to avoid hoarding vaccines and accelerate the first stages of COVAX deliveries, to give priority to countries with fewer resources,” Ebrard said before the council, which Mexico is currently a member of.

“It is urgent to act, to reverse the injustice that is being committed because the security of all humanity depends on it,” Ebrard said.

Officials at the Pan American Health Organization said yesterday that countries should expect confirmation of their COVAX vaccine shipments shortly.

3. Pandemic adds $24 trillion to global debt

The COVID-19 pandemic and response has added $24 trillion to global debt over the past year, according to a new study from the Institute of International Finance.

Global debt now stands at a record $281 trillion and the worldwide debt-to-GDP ratio at over 355%.

Government support accounted for half the rise, the organization's global debt monitor reported. Global firms, banks and households added $5.4 trillion, $3.9 trillion and $2.6 trillion respectively.

Global debt hits a fresh record high in 2020
The report warned that government debt is expected to further increase this year.
Image: IIF