• 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: US policy-makers optimistic about economic recovery; WHO calls for further research into origins of SARS-CoV-2; Ecuador health system under strain from spike in COVID-19 infections.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 128.2 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.8 million. More than 564.5 million vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a US study. The paper has yet to be peer reviewed.

The southwestern Chinese city of Ruili has introduced a one-week home quarantine and mass COVID-19 testing after reporting six new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases.

New locally acquired cases have fallen in Queensland, Australia, after authorities introduced a snap three-day lockdown in capital Brisbane.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signed an executive order to disburse 5.3 billion reais ($918.08 million) in new loans to tackle the pandemic. It comes as the country hit a record daily tally for COVID-19 deaths of 3,780.

Ecuador’s health system is under severe strain from a spike in coronavirus infections, doctors in the country’s capital said on Tuesday.

Spain has removed an upper age limit of 65 years on AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, and will also give Johnson & Johnson's vaccine to people aged over 66.

Turkey has recorded 37,303 new COVID-19 cases in a 24 hour period, the highest total since the start of the pandemic, health ministry data showed yesterday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in French intensive care units has reached 5,072, the health ministry said yesterday. The figure is the highest in 2021 so far.

Renewed lockdown restrictions in Europe and slower than expected vaccine rollouts are likely to check a global recovery in fuel demand.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100 people in selected countries.
The vaccine rollout continues globally.
Image: Our World in Data

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. Fed policy-makers optimistic about US economic recovery

Federal Reserve policy-makers have voiced optimism about the economic outlook in the United States, as the vaccine rollout continues and government aid gets to households and businesses.

Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin compared the pandemic economy to a roller-coaster pausing just before a thrilling high-speed plunge.

“The final stretch should absolutely be something, as excess savings and fiscal stimulus fund pent-up demand from consumers who are exhausted from isolation and who will be freed by vaccines and warmer weather,” he told the Montgomery County Chamber of Congress in Maryland on Tuesday.

“We could see a burst of activity and performance coming into the summer which could lead us to see even more robust recovery,” Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic told the Atlanta World Affairs Council. “A million jobs a month could become the standard through the summer.”

New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams also that he's “optimistic” about the overall economy.

“We’re making great strides on the vaccination program,” he told a virtual event organized by the New York Fed and AARP about small businesses. “I think we have a lot of positives going forward.”

3. WHO says further research needed into origins of SARS-CoV-2

The report of the international team that visited Wuhan in January and February this year was published yesterday, as World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further studies.

“As far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table. This report is a very important beginning, but it is not the end. We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do,” said Dr Tedros.

“Finding the origin of a virus takes time and we owe it to the world to find the source so we can collectively take steps to reduce the risk of this happening again. No single research trip can provide all the answers," he added.