• 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: WTO head seeks solutions to 'glaring' vaccine inequality; Antonio Guterres suggests tax to tackle post-pandemic inequality; India reports more than 160,000 new COVID-19 cases.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 136.50 million globally, according to Our World in Data. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.94 million. More than 788.19 million vaccination doses have been administered globally.

India has reported 161,736 new COVID-19 cases, hitting the world's highest daily tally once again, health ministry data shows. It comes as the country approves use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said yesterday.

The Canadian province of Ontario is closing schools for in-person learning due a rise in variant-driven COVID-19 cases, its premier said yesterday.

Salesforce has said it will start allowing vaccinated employees to return in small groups to some of its offices. Mandatory onsite COVID-19 testing will also take place twice a week.

Greece will receive 33,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday and start inoculating people with the jab next week, a senior health ministry official said yesterday.

France will extend the period between the first and second shots of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to six weeks from four weeks as of Wednesday to accelerate the inoculation campaign, Health Minister Olivier Veran told the JDD newspaper on Sunday.

Almost 200 Dutch tourists have travelled to a Greek beach resort, to which they'll be confined, in an experiment to see if safe holidays can be arranged during the pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in selected countries.
The vaccine rollout varies considerably around the world.
Image: Our World in Data

2. Antonio Guterres suggests tax on rich who profited during pandemic

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged governments to consider imposing a 'solidarity or wealth tax' on rich people who made money during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to cut extreme inequality.

“We must make sure funds go where they are needed most. Latest reports indicate that there has been a $5 trillion surge in the wealth of the world’s richest in the past year,” Guterres told a UN meeting on financing for development.

“I urge governments to consider a solidarity or wealth tax on those who have profited during the pandemic, to reduce extreme inequalities,” he said.

Guterres told the same meeting that debt service extension by the G20 and big emerging powers should be extended and expanded to help low- and middle-income countries recover from the pandemic. He also repeated his call for a more equitable vaccine rollout.

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.

3. WTO head seeks solutions to vaccine inequality

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has called for action to tackle inequity in the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“The vaccine inequity is glaring,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “I’m a pragmatic person and what hurts me now is that people are dying from not having access to vaccines.”

“We have the technology in the world to save lives so I want to get onto it and find some solutions that will make a difference.”

A meeting tomorrow will be attended by major manufacturers to look at solutions such as firing up idle or under-used manufacturing plants in Africa and Asia.

It will bring together vaccine makers from the United States, China and Russia, ministers from wealthy and developing countries, and banking officials to discuss vaccine export restrictions, scaling up manufacturing, and waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 drugs and shots, she told Reuters.