• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Sydney records its deadliest day of the pandemic; Japan extends state of emergency; UK ex-PM calls for emergency vaccine summit to help Africa and end inequality.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 207.2 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.36 million. More than 4.7 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Australia's biggest city, Sydney, recorded its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday as troops and police set up roadblocks to limit the movement of people. New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said seven people in Sydney had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said the city would remain in a lockdown until 2 September after recording 22 new COVID-19 cases. Its 5 million residents are under a nightly curfew.

Hong Kong's government said it would upgrade 15 overseas territories including the United States, Spain and France to "high risk" from "medium risk" by 20 August. It means international arrivals from those countries will face lengthened quarantine due to a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The Japanese government is set to extend its "state of emergency" soft lockdown in regions including Tokyo to the middle of September as well as adding several other regions, the Sankei Shimbun daily reported on Monday. The current state of emergency was due to expire on 31 August, but a continuing surge in coronavirus cases spurred calls to extend it.

South Korean police mobilized hundreds of buses and set up dozens of checkpoints on Sunday to head off annual political rallies in Seoul. The country is grappling with a fourth wave of infection that took new daily cases above 2,200 last week for the first time.

Iran is to impose a one-week lockdown and a ban on road travel amid a fifth COVID-19 surge in the worst-hit country in the Middle East, state television reported on Saturday. From today, non-essential businesses and offices will have to close under the nationwide lockdown until 21 August, in an effort to curb the highly contagious Delta variant.

From today, people in England and Northern Ireland who have had two COVID-19 vaccine doses will no longer have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive, reports the BBC. Instead, they are now advised to take a non-compulsory PCR test.

2. Emergency vaccine summit needed to help Africa – former UK PM

Leaders from the US, Britain and Italy must hold an emergency summit before the UN General Assembly to end vaccine inequality and send more shots to countries in Africa and other low-income nations, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

Brown, prime minister between 2007 and 2010, has been leading a push for richer countries to share more of the cost of vaccinating people in developing countries, many of which have low inoculation rates and rising cases.

He appealed to US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, chair of the Group of 20 wealthy nations, to hold the summit before September when world leaders will take part in the UN's General Assembly.

Share of people vaccinated against COVID-19.
How COVID-19 vaccinations are spread unevenly across the globe.
Image: Our World in Data

He called for the leaders to end the "stranglehold" on vaccines of rich nations with excess supply, and for them to help countries in Africa and other low-income nations with finance and logistics.

"Their leadership can ensure finance to build African manufacturing capacity for the longer term and unblock the barriers to African purchases of vaccines now and over the next year," Brown said in a statement on Monday.

"Only intervention at the highest level by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and the current chair of the G20, Mario Draghi, at a global vaccine summit in the next month can end this vaccine inequality that shames the world."

Vaccines, Health and healthcare, Gavi

What is the World Economic Forum doing about access to vaccines?

In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was launched at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, with an initial pledge of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for all - wherever people live in the world.

Along with saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years,through the vaccination of nearly 700 million children, - Gavi has most recently ensured a life-saving vaccine for Ebola.

At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi's partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of years of energy and commitment from Merck; the generosity of Canada’s federal government; leadership by WHO; strong support to test the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the West Africa outbreak; and the rapid response and dedication of the DRC Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance, and how you can contribute to the improvement of access to vaccines globally - in our Impact Story.

The leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – agreed in June to provide 1 billion doses to poorer countries by the end of 2022.

But Brown said most of those would not be delivered to Africa, where less than 2% of people have been fully vaccinated, until next year.

"The biggest threat we all face comes from COVID spreading and mutating uninhibited in poor unvaccinated countries," he said.

3. Japan's economy rebounded more than expected in Q2

Japan's economy rebounded more than expected in the second quarter after slumping in the first three months of this year, data showed, a sign consumption and capital expenditure were recovering from the coronavirus pandemic's initial hit.

But many analysts expect growth to remain modest in the current quarter as state of emergency curbs re-imposed to combat a spike in infections weigh on household spending.

The world's third-largest economy grew an annualized 1.3% in April-June after a revised 3.7% slump in the first quarter, preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) data showed on Monday, beating a median market forecast for a 0.7% gain.

Still, the rebound was much weaker than that of other advanced economies including the US, which marked a 6.5% annualized expansion in the second quarter, highlighting the fallout from Tokyo's struggle in containing the pandemic.

"There's not much to be optimistic on the outlook with a spike in infections heightening the chance of stricter curbs on activity," said Yoshihiki Shinke, Chief Economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

"Japan's economy stagnated in the first half of this year and there's a risk of a contraction in July-September. Any clear rebound in growth will have to wait until year-end," he said.