• 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: Calls for countries to honour vaccine donations pledges; Cases surging in Syria; Booster dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved in US.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 230 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.71 million. More than 6.01 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Alaska has imposed crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system after a surge in COVID-19 patients put an extreme strain on resources.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said the country should aim for a 90%-plus vaccination rate - and could drop lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.

South Korea has urged citizens to get a COVID-19 test after the Chuseok holiday week.

The Pan American Health Organization warned yesterday that countries in the region could continue to face COVID-19 outbreaks 'well into 2022'.

Uganda has eased COVID-19 restrictions following a decline in infections in the country.

Ukraine is planning mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for some jobs, including teachers and employees of state institutions and local governments, Health Minister Oleh Lyashko said yesterday.

New confirmed daily COVID-19 cases have hit their highest total this year in Romania, with cases doubling in a week.

Germany plans to stop paying compensation to unvaccinated workers who are forced into quarantine by coronavirus measures as it is unfair to ask taxpayers to subsidize those who refuse to get inoculated, Health Minister Jens Spahn said yesterday.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, all people at high risk of severe disease, and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.

2. Calls for countries to honour vaccine donations pledges

The World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called on countries to boost vaccine supplies to parts of the world where vaccination rates remain low.

"We need an ironclad global commitment today to support the vaccination of at least 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by mid-2022," Dr Tedros told a US-hosted session on ending the pandemic.

To achieve that, we need two billion doses for low- and lower-middle-income countries right now. "We call on the countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines to swap their near-term vaccine deliveries with COVAX and AVAT; to fulfil their dose-sharing pledges immediately; and to facilitate the immediate sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property."

Dr Tedros' calls echoed those of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and leaders from developing nations from around the world.

Countries including the United States, Italy, Spain and Japan have announced new or increased pledges for vaccine donations.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by country income group.
COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by country income group.
Image: Our World in Data

3. Syria facing a new surge in COVID-19 cases

Syria is facing a new surge in COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm the country's fragile health system, aid workers, officials and medical sources said yesterday. Rising cases are being seen in government-held regions and areas outside state control.

"The occupancy of intensive care units (ICU) for COVID-19 patients have reached close to 100%," said Issam al-Amin, the head of Mouwasat University Hospital, one of the largest public hospitals in the capital city of Damascus, with over 800 beds.

Government health authorities said the number of cases reported in the last 24 hours has hit 235, the highest daily tally since the first case was reported in March last year.

NGOs, independent medics and aid workers say official data reflects a small fraction of the real toll. Just a small fraction of the country's population has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

India’s leading COVID-19 last-mile responders

Each of our Top 50 social enterprise last mile responders and multi-stakeholder initiatives is working across four priority areas of need: Prevention and protection; COVID-19 treatment and relief; inclusive vaccine access; and securing livelihoods. The list was curated jointly with regional hosts Catalyst 2030’s NASE and Aavishkaar Group. Their profiles can be found on www.wef.ch/lastmiletop50india.

Top Last Mile Partnership Initiatives to collaborate with: