• 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.
  • Tops stories: 'Green pass' opens music concert to vaccinated Israelis; Angela Merkel warns on COVID-19 variants; Single-shot COVID-19 vaccine effective and safe, say US regulators.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 112.1 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.48 million.

A think tank has called on British finance minister Rishi Sunak to follow the United States in announcing a £100 billion ($142 billion) stimulus in his budget next week.

More than 200 civil society groups have urged G20 officials to back a $3 trillion issuance of the IMF's own currency - or Special Drawing Rights - to help countries weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States fell 30% last week, and were declining in most South American nations, but vaccines will take months to have an impact on the virus, the Pan American Health Organization said yesterday.

The French government has ordered a weekend lockdown in the Dunkirk area after an "alarming" rise in cases. They suggested additional restrictions might also be needed elsewhere, after daily cases nationwide hit their highest since November.

Senegal has begun its wider COVID-19 vaccination programme, after a launch ceremony saw dozens of officials vaccinated to demonstrate its safety.

Denmark plans to allow shops and some schools to reopen in March, with the Prime Minister calling it a "calculated risk".

Sweden is increasing restrictions - including reducing opening hours for all restaurants, bars and cafes - in an effort to prevent a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thai authorities are preparing a plan to ease restrictions for travellers vaccinated against COVID-19, officials said yesterday.

US regulators have found a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson to be safe and effective. It paves the way for the vaccine to be authorised for use in the United States.

COVAX - the global vaccine-sharing scheme - has delivered its first vaccines, with a shipment to Ghana.

More than half a million Malaysians registered to be vaccinated on the first day of the country's National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.

Moderna says the first batches of a variant-specific vaccine, designed to work against the South African variant, have been sent for initial human trials.

2. 'Green pass' opens music concert to vaccinated Israelis

An open-air concert took place in Tel Aviv yesterday for Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19.

Attendees were required to a show a "Green Pass", a government-validated certification that shows they've received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event, or that they had recovered from COVID-19 and presumed immune.

A musician plays his guitar in a concert where the audience had to show their
The concert took place in Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv.
Image: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The passes are valid for six months from the time of full vaccination.

“It provides protection, but also a feeling of comfort to sit among people who are vaccinated,” said Doron Zicher, a retired businessman who was preparing to watch Israeli singer Nurit Galron perform at dusk in Yarkon Park.

3. New COVID variants risk third wave: Angela Merkel

New variants of COVID-19 risk a third wave of infections and another nationwide lockdown, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“Because of (variants), we are entering a new phase of the pandemic, from which a third wave may emerge,” she said. “So we must proceed wisely and carefully so that a third wave does not necessitate a new complete shutdown throughout Germany.”

New daily infections have stagnated over the past week in Germany, with the seven-day incidence rate hovering around 60 cases per 100,000.

Restrictions are in place across Germany until at least 7 March.


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.