• 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: WHO approves Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine; Oxford trials vaccine in children for first time; EU to study virus mutations.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 109.1 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.4 million.

Australia's medical regulator has granted provisional approval for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

South Korea has struck a deal to buy COVID-19 vaccines for 23 million more people. It comes after authorities decided to scale back initial vaccination plans, citing delays and efficacy concerns.

Colombia will begin COVID-19 vaccinations from tomorrow, after the first doses arrived in the country.

The European Union is set to start a new programme to study mutations in the COVID-19 virus, in an effort to prepare future vaccines.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday any path out of lockdown would be 'cautious' but 'irreversible'.

The Czech government is planning to reopen schools for more students from 1 March, with regular testing in place.

Zimbabwe has received its first COVID-19 vaccines – 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China.

The incoming head of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has warned against vaccine nationalism, saying it will slow progress in ending the pandemic.

Data from Israel suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is performing as well in a large population as it did in trials, preventing 94% of symptomatic infections.

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is a coalition of 85 global leaders, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Its mission: Join hands in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere as vital first responders to the pandemic and as pioneers of a green, inclusive economic reality.

Its COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda, outlines 25 concrete recommendations for key stakeholder groups, including funders and philanthropists, investors, government institutions, support organizations, and corporations. In January of 2021, its members launched its 2021 Roadmap through which its members will roll out an ambitious set of 21 action projects in 10 areas of work. Including corporate access and policy change in support of a social economy.

For more information see the Alliance website or its “impact story” here.

2. WHO approves Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

The World Health Organization has given emergency use listing to two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, meaning they can be rolled out globally through the vaccine sharing facility COVAX.

"One of the vaccines is produced by SKBio in the Republic of Korea and the other is produced by the Serum Institute of India," Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing. "Although both companies are producing the same vaccine, because they are made in different production plants, they required separate reviews and approvals."

He also reiterated calls for a rapid, but equitable, rollout of vaccines globally. And, it's vital that demand for vaccines is built by ensuring people have the right information and fighting misinformation, false or misleading statements, he said.

Daily COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100 people
Vaccination programmes continue at pace in many countries.
Image: Our World in Data

3. Oxford Uni to test COVID-19 vaccine among children

The University of Oxford has said it's launched a study to assess the safety and immune response of the COVID-19 vaccine it's developed with AstraZeneca in children.

The mid-stage trial will examine the vaccine's effectiveness in people between 6 and 17, with 300 volunteers expected to be enrolled.

AstraZeneca has a target to produce 3 billion doses of the vaccine this year, which is easier and cheaper to distribute than some others.