• 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: Israeli data shows positive results for Pfizer vaccine; G7 leaders commit billions to ensure equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines; Australia begins vaccine programme.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 111.3 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.46 million.

The Philippines has approved Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, but will not give it to healthcare workers at risk of exposure due to its varying levels of efficacy.

British businesses have the strongest hiring intentions in a year, and fewer are planning redundancies, as the economic outlook has brightened, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has said.

It comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is, today, set to plot a path out of the country's COVID-19 lockdown.

Australia has begun a mass COVID-19 vaccine programme with frontline healthcare staff and senior citizens.

New Zealand is set to push for tariff-free trade of COVID-19 essentials as it hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Israel has reopened shops and leisure facilities, with vaccines now administered to nearly half the population. Access to gyms, hotels and theatres is limited to people with a 'Green Pass' - those who have had both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior, or recovered from the disease with presumed immunity.

Malaysia is set to start its COVID-19 vaccine programme two days ahead of schedule as the first doses arrived in the country yesterday.

Ireland will not consider re-opening its hospitality sector before mid-summer, due to the high level of COVID-19 infections in the country, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said over the weekend.

The Indian state of Maharashtra has introduced new restrictions on movement and imposed night curfews in some cities, after a rise in COVID-19 cases.

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. COVID-19 sickness dropped 95.8% after both Pfizer shots: Israeli Health Ministry

The risk of illness from COVID-19 dropped 95.8% among people who received both shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Israel's Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The vaccine was also 98% effective in preventing fever or breathing problems and 98.9% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death.

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people in selected countries
Israel has administered more doses per 100 people than any other country.
Image: Our World in Data

Israel's ambitious vaccination programme has made it the largest real-world study of the Pfizer jab. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday he expected 95% of Israelis aged 50 and over to be vaccinated in the next two weeks.

3. G7 leaders commit $4.3 billion to equitable test, treatment and vaccine access

Leaders at Friday's virtual G7 meeting and at the Munich Security Conference made collective commitments of more than $4.3 billion to the ACT Accelerator partnership.

The partnership aims to develop and distribute effective tests, treatments and vaccines around the world. The UK joined Canada, France, Norway and the European Union in committing to sharing its additional vaccine doses with developing countries.

"Today’s news shows us solidarity prevails," said World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "We can turn a corner on this pandemic by funding the only global solution to end it. History will judge us collectively and I welcome the words of support from today’s G7 leaders and the Munich Security Council for again highlighting to the world that we have to solve this together.”