• 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: COVID-19 vaccine waiver proposal deadlocked; EU regulator backs vaccine boosters for those with weak immunity; Asian economies in talks to buy experimental antiviral COVID-19 pill.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 235.4 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.8 million. More than 6.34 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The Australian state of Victoria has logged the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any state in the country since the start of the pandemic.

New Zealand is set to introduce COVID-19 vaccine certificates from next month to 'lessen risks at what are currently considered high-risk settings', Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

The effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dropped to 47% from 88% six months after the second dose, according to data published yesterday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned against travel to Armenia, Austria, Barbados, Croatia and Latvia because of COVID-19 concerns.

COVID-19 vaccines are less effective in people with weakened immune systems, three small Italian studies have shown.

A number of Asian economies, including Thailand, South Korea and Australia are in talks to buy Merck's experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19.

The Kremlin has urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as confirmed cases in Russia rise to their highest levels since January.

New confirmed cases and COVID-19 deaths have risen to their highest level in Hungary since the start of the fourth wave of the pandemic, government data showed yesterday.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Image: Our World in Data

2. A year on, COVID-19 vaccine waiver proposal deadlocked

Negotiations on a proposal to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies at the World Trade Organization are deadlocked, according to sources after a meeting on the topic.

The proposal was introduced a year ago by South Africa and India, with its supporters arguing it will save lives by allowing developing countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines. More than 100 countries, including the United States, back the waiver, but opponents say it's not clear a waiver will overcome other issues, such as raw material scarcity or supply chain challenges.

The WTO's Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has identified finding solutions to vaccine inequity as a priority for the organization.

3. EU regulator backs vaccine boosters for those with weak immunity

The European Union's drugs regulator has said people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of an mRNA vaccine from either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) left it up to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster.

It means the EU joins the United States, Britain and Israel where regulators have approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech boosters. Israel is the only country currently deploying them across the whole population.

The EMA said a third dose should be given at least 26 days after the second dose.

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is a coalition of 85 global leaders, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Its mission: Join hands in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere as vital first responders to the pandemic and as pioneers of a green, inclusive economic reality.

Its COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda, outlines 25 concrete recommendations for key stakeholder groups, including funders and philanthropists, investors, government institutions, support organizations, and corporations. In January of 2021, its members launched its 2021 Roadmap through which its members will roll out an ambitious set of 21 action projects in 10 areas of work. Including corporate access and policy change in support of a social economy.

For more information see the Alliance website or its “impact story” here.