• This daily news 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: WHO warns of syringe shortage; health workers in England to be required to get COVID-19 vaccine; Canada authorizes COVID-19 booster dose.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 250.9 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.06 million. More than 7.34 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The United States government is set to buy another $1 billion worth of the COVID-19 pill made by Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the companies announced yesterday.

AstraZeneca is creating a separate division for vaccines and antibody therapies, the drugmaker said on Tuesday, to focus on its COVID-19 shot and the development of coronavirus treatments.

Moderna has applied for European authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 6-11 years, weeks after it delayed a similar filing in the United States.

Guinea will begin vaccinating children aged 12-17 against COVID-19 with a consignment of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on Wednesday, the health ministry said. Most African countries have been reliant on the COVAX vaccine sharing initiative for doses, and have inoculated only a small fraction of their populations.

Canada has authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 and above.

Vietnam will by the end of this month have sufficient vaccines to cover its population against COVID-19, a deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.

Russian authorities have said that last week's nationwide workplace shutdowns have helped turn the tide of surging COVID-19 cases, but the country reported its largest one-day death toll of the pandemic so far on Tuesday.

A group of hospitals in the southern Dutch province of Limburg on Tuesday called for the government to take new measures to stem rising COVID-19 cases, saying they have no space or staff to handle more coronavirus patients.

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. WHO warns of syringe shortage

The World Health Organization is warning of a syringe shortage next year, which could impact not just COVID-19 vaccinations, but also routine immunisations and undermine needle safety.

The WHO said the shortage could run to between one and two billion. National health authorities should plan their needs well in advance to avoid the "hoarding, panic buying and type of situation" seen early in the pandemic with the lack of personal protective equipment, WHO expert Lisa Hedman said.

"We could have a global shortage of immunisation syringes that could in turn lead to serious problems such as slowing down immunisation efforts as well as safety concerns," she told a U.N. briefing.

3. Health workers in England to be required to get COVID-19 vaccine

Health workers in England will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by 1 April, health minister Sajid Javid announced yesterday. He made it a mandatory condition of employment for those on the frontline of the National Health Service.

Javid said he had to balance the benefit to patients and colleagues with concern that workers might decide to leave their jobs rather than get the shots. He said workplace pressures were one reason the measure would not come in until the spring.

"All those working in the NHS and social care will have to be vaccinated. We must avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS and of course protect the NHS itself," Javid told parliament. "We intend the enforcement of this condition to start on the 1st of April."

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance to Social Entrepreneurs - soon to continue its work as the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship - was launched in April 2020 in response to the devastating effects of the pandemic. Co-founded by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship together with Ashoka, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business.

The Alliance provides a trusted community for the world’s leading corporations, investors, governments, intermediaries, academics, and media who share a commitment to social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Since its inception, it has since grown to become the largest multi-stakeholder coalition in the social enterprise sector: its 90+ members collectively support over 100,000 social entrepreneurs across the world. These entrepreneurs, in turn, have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of an estimated 2 billion people.

Together, they work to (i) mobilize support for social entrepreneurs and their agendas; (ii) take action on urgent global agendas using the power of social entrepreneurship, and (iii) share insights from the sector so that social entrepreneurs can flourish and lead the way in shaping an inclusive, just and sustainable world.

The Alliance works closely together with member organizations Echoing Green and GHR Foundation, as well as the Centre for the New Economy and Society on the roll out of its 2022 roadmap (soon to be announced).