• 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: Fake COVID-19 vaccines seized; Germany approves AstraZeneca shot for over-65s; Viet Nam to launch vaccination programme.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 115.6 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.56 million.

Israel, Austria and Denmark have said they will set up a joint research and development fund, and possibly production facilities for COVID-19 vaccines, to ensure they have long-term supplies for booster shots or to tackle mutation.

More than 60% of all new COVID-19 infections in France are linked to the variant first detected in the UK, Prime Minister Jean Castex said yesterday.

Moderna and IBM have announced they'll work together on technologies to track COVID-19 vaccine administration.

Egypt has expanded its vaccine rollout to include the elderly and people with chronic diseases, having been focused on medical staff up until now.

California will set aside 40% of its COVID-19 vaccines for the hardest-hit communities, Governor Gavin Newsom said yesterday. He also said the state would establish a "vaccine equity metric" to make sure inoculations are conducted fairly.

New Zealand will lift a lockdown in Auckland on Sunday, which was imposed last Saturday after one new case of COVID was reported.

Viet Nam is set to launch its COVID-19 vaccination programme on Monday, after receiving 117,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

South Korea's drug safety ministry has granted final approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Cumulative COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people in selected countries
Vaccination programmes continue around the world.
Image: Our World in Data

2. Fake vaccines seized in South Africa

Police in South Africa have seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines, Interpol – the global police co-ordination agency – said.

The agency issued a global alert in December warning member nations to prepare for organized crime networks to target COVID-19 vaccines.

Some 400 ampoules – equivalent to about 2,400 doses – containing the fake vaccine were found, along with a large number of fake 3M masks.

“Whilst we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine related crime,” said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.

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.

3. Germany approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s

Germany's vaccination authority has approved the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for the over-65s, the health ministry said yesterday.

It also said the Permanent Vaccination Commission had recommended extending the period between first and second doses to a maximum of 12 weeks. It comes after studies have shown a longer gap improved its efficacy.

“This is good news for older people who are waiting for a vaccine. They can now be vaccinated more quickly,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a statement. “We will shortly issue a regulation implementing both recommendations.”