• 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 surpasses 296 million vaccines, EU asks rich countries to consider global shortages and Sinovac vaccine approved for emergency listing.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 171.1 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 3.56 million. More than 1.94 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Australia's Victoria state extended a snap COVID-19 lockdown for a second week in Melbourne on Wednesday to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious virus strain first detected in India, but will ease some restrictions in other regions.

Britain recorded no new deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test on Tuesday. The last time Britain recorded no deaths was in March 2020, before its first lockdown.

Portugal expects to start vaccinating 20-to 30-year-olds at the beginning of August, the vaccine task force coordinator said on Tuesday, as the rollout speeds up across Europe. Nearly 18% of the population of 10 million has received both doses of the vaccine.

India on Wednesday reported a daily rise in new coronavirus infections of 132,788 cases over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,207.

India's tally of infections now stands at 28.3 million, while the death toll has reached 335,102, health ministry data showed.

The United States has administered 296,404,240 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Tuesday morning and distributed 366,317,045 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

Germany's public health agency lowered the coronavirus risk level to "high" from "very high" on Tuesday for the first time in 2021, reflecting a fall in the number of new infections, although the government stressed the pandemic was not over.

Ecuador this week launched a plan to vaccinate 9 million people against the novel coronavirus in 100 days, part of recently installed President Guillermo Lasso's plan to revive the economy by battling the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it has approved a COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech (SVA.O) for emergency use listing, paving the way for a second Chinese shot to be used in poor countries.

A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators of a product’s safety and efficacy. It will allow the Sinovac shot to be included in COVAX, the global programme providing vaccines mainly for poor countries. COVAX faces major supply problems due to curbs on Indian vaccine exports.

Total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered
Vaccination programmes continue worldwide, but the WHO and ECDC are urging richer nations to support poorer nations.
Image: Our World in Data

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

2. Consider global shortages before giving COVID-19 shots to teens, EU body says

Last week, the EU drugs regulator authorised Pfizer (PFE.N) and partner BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12. Its previous guidance was for adults aged 16 and above.

The ECDC - echoing World Health Organization (WHO) calls to delay inoculations of young adults in rich nations - said in a report that vaccinating adolescents should be a priority only when they are at high risk of developing serious coronavirus symptoms.

The ECDC has an advisory role within Europe on vaccine rollouts, which are run by national governments.

Studies show most under-20s who catch COVID-19 have only mild symptoms, but risks increase among those with underlying conditions such as neurological and pulmonary diseases, the ECDC said.

When deciding whether to vaccinate low-risk teenagers, "the wider context of a global vaccine supply shortage should also be taken into account," the ECDC said, noting that healthcare workers and the most vulnerable had yet to be vaccinated in many poorer nations.

Nearly half of adults have received at least a first dose in the EU, and 20% have been fully immunised while. But according to WHO data, by mid-May only 1% of vaccines administered globally had been given in Africa.