• 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: New Zealand and Sydney extend lockdowns; West Africa health system under strain; Thailand passes 1 million cases.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 210 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.40 million. More than 4.84 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a nationwide lockdown on Friday as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country jumped and the outbreak widened beyond its largest city, Auckland, to the capital, Wellington. Ardern extended the lockdown until midnight on 24 August.

Two million residents of Sydney will be under nightly curfew from next week to slow the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus that is spreading across New South Wales state, authorities said on Friday as they extended lockdown orders.

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 United States has administered 359,623,380 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Thursday morning and distributed 422,175,735 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

South Africa will open up COVID-19 vaccinations to those aged between 18 and 35 years old from Friday, the government said in a statement, as it tries to ramp up its immunization drive.

Thailand's coronavirus cases passed the 1 million mark on Friday, 97% of which were recorded in the past five months, as the country struggles to get on top of one of Asia's most severe COVID-19 outbreaks.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases, in specific countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases, in specific countries
Image: Our World in Data

2. West Africa health systems risk strain among COVID, Ebola and Marburg outbreaks, says WHO

The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, West Africa is facing new outbreaks of the viral haemorrhagic fevers Marburg and Ebola, risking huge strains on ill-equipped health systems.

The new outbreaks show the multitude of challenges governments are fighting in parallel with the COVID-19 pandemic, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, told a news conference on Thursday.

"We are particularly concerned about West Africa," Moeti said. "Fighting multiple outbreaks is a complex challenge."

Côte d'Ivoire declared its first case of Ebola since 1994. Authorities said it was an isolated case of an 18-year-old girl who travelled from neighbouring Guinea.

Africa faces more infectious disease outbreaks every year than any other region, Moeti said.

Health systems in West Africa, in particular, are weaker than in other parts of the continent, she added, although the WHO did not give specific numbers regarding staffing levels or hospital bed occupancy rates across the region.

Meanwhile, WHO data shows that West Africa in the past month recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began, and COVID-19 cases are surging in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Nigeria, all three of which have recently been hit with other outbreaks.

Separately, Côte d'Ivoire has identified an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu near the commercial capital Abidjan and has taken steps to curb its spread, the government said on Thursday.

"Facing three outbreaks at the same time, for any health system, it's a very difficult situation," Mamadou Samba, Côte d'Ivoire's Director General of Health, told the same news conference.