• 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 administers over 314 million doses, antibody screening could provide more doses for countries in need and UK offers vaccines to all adults.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 177.4 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 3.84 million. More than 2.5 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The United States has administered 314,969,386 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Thursday morning and distributed 377,215,060 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

COVID-19 cases rose by over 20% week-on-week in nearly two dozen African countries and progress on vaccinating Africans is proceeding slowly, with just 0.79% of people on the continent fully vaccinated, senior health officials said on Thursday.

The health service in England will open up COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged over 18 on Friday, a big step towards the government’s target of giving every adult who wants a vaccine a first shot in the next month.

Britain reported its biggest daily rise in new cases of COVID-19 since 19 February on Thursday, according to government figures that showed 11,007 new infections, up from 9,055 the day before.

Residents of Portugal's Lisbon region will not be allowed to leave the area on weekends as authorities work to control a spike in COVID-19 infections, the government said on Thursday. People living in the 18 municipalities of Lisbon's metropolitan area will be banned from leaving from 3pm on Friday until 6am on Monday. Those living outside the area will not be allowed in.

The COVID-19 pandemic is spiraling out of control in Afghanistan, with cases rising by 2,400% in the past month, hospitals filling up and medical resources quickly running out, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Thursday.

2. Could antibody screening transform vaccine distribution?

Writing in the Financial Times on Thursday, Ara Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, discussed how antibody screening could allow advanced economies to supply more doses to the countries that really need them.

"Never before has the world needed 10bn doses of vaccine as quickly as possible. With COVID-19 having spread to every country on earth, the whole world must now be vaccinated, meaning efficient distribution is essential," wrote Darzi.

Instead of offering booster doses to the whole population, as many countries are currently planning to do, Darzi suggests that people could be tested based on their antibody levels and booster shots only offered to those who need it.

"Mass testing programmes that seek to identify active COVID-19 infections could be redeployed for quantitative antibody testing as the initial vaccination programmes near completion."

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by continent
COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by continent.
Image: Our World in Data