• 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 to share 25 million vaccines; Africa faces third wave; IMF urges vaccine sharing.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 172.1 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 3.7 million. More than 2.02 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

China administered about 18.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on June 3, bringing the total number of doses administered in the country so far to 723.49 million, data from the National Health Commission showed on Friday.

The Delta variant first identified in India is now dominant in Britain and might cause an increased risk of hospitalisation compared with the Alpha variant, Public Health England said on Thursday.

There were 5,472 new cases of the Delta variant reported in latest English weekly figures, taking the total confirmed cases of the variant to 12,431, PHE said, adding it had overtaken Alpha, the variant first identified in England's Kent region, as Britain's dominant variant.

Japan delivered to Taiwan 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine on Friday for free, in a gesture that will more than double the amount of shots the island has received to date.

Malaysian health authorities have raised concerns about a growing number of coronavirus deaths and serious cases involving children, after a surge in overall infections forced it nto a strict lockdown.

The White House laid out a plan for the United States to share 25 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world, with the first shots shipping as soon as Thursday, and said it would ease other countries’ access to U.S.-made supplies for vaccine production.

Share of people who received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine
How the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is going around the globe.
Image: Our World in Data

2. Risk of COVID-19 surge threatens Africa’s health facilities, says WHO

The World Health Organization highlighted the urgent need for African countries to boost critical care capacity in order to prevent health facilities from being overwhelmed. This comes as vaccine shipments to the continent have ground to a halt.

According to the WHO, Africa recorded a 20% increase in cases in the last two weeks compared with the previous fortnight, with the pandemic trending upwards in 14 countries. Vaccine shipments continue to slow down with nearly 20 African countries having used up more than two-thirds of their doses. The COVAX facility is in talks with manufacturers as well as countries that have already vaccinated their high-risk groups.

“The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising. Our priority is clear – it’s crucial that we swiftly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of COVID-19,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's Regional Director for Africa.

Africa has received 48.6 million doses and administered 31.4 million doses in 50 countries, where around 2% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while globally 24% have been vaccinated.

According to a WHO survey carried out in May, many African countries didn't have the crucial equipment and number of health workers required to handle severely ill COVID-19 patients. Of the 23 countries that responded to the survey, most had fewer than one intensive care unit bed per 100,000 population and will require an increase of between 2,500% and 3,000% to meet needs during a surge.

“Many African hospitals and clinics are still far from ready to cope with a huge rise in critically-ill patients. We must better equip our hospitals and medical staff to avert the worst effects of a runaway surge,” said Dr Moeti. “Treatment is the last line of defence against this virus and we cannot let it be breached.”

3. IMF and World Bank urge G7 to release surplus vaccines

The heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Thursday urged the Group of Seven advanced economies to release any excess COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries as soon as possible, and called on manufacturers to ramp up production.

In a joint statement to the G7, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass also called on governments, pharmaceutical companies and groups involved in vaccine procurement to boost transparency about contracting, financing and deliveries.

"Distributing vaccines more widely is both an urgent economic necessity and a moral imperative," they said. "The coronavirus pandemic will not end until everyone has access to vaccines, including people in developing countries."

Malpass and Georgieva will meet in person on Friday and Saturday with finance officials from the G7 countries - Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, France and Japan - with the COVID-19 pandemic set to be a central topic.

Both organizations welcomed U.S. plans to distribute the first 25 million of 80 million vaccine doses that Washington has pledged to share globally by the end of this month.

"It’s a good start, and I am hoping that more doses will be made available, especially for countries with deployment programs," Malpass told Reuters.