• 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: UK study finds mixing Pfizer or AstraZeneca shots with Moderna gives better immune response; warning on future pandemics from Oxford professor; community transmission of Omicron in England.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 266.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.26 million. More than 8.21 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Mexico City will begin offering a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to residents over the age of 60 from today, as part of a government plan to roll out booster shots.

China reported 94 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for 6 December, up from 61 a day earlier, its health authority said on Tuesday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added more countries to its 'Level 4: Very High' classification, advising against travel to countries including France, Jordan, Portugal and Tanzania as a result of COVID-19 concerns.

The World Bank has said its funding had helped deliver 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world - a figure which should reach 150 million by the end of December.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid has said there is now community transmission of Omicron across regions of England - but it's too early to tell if it will "knock us off our road to recovery".

Healthcare and delivery disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to malaria killing 69,000 more people in 2020 than the previous year - but a worst-case scenario was prevented - the World Health Organization said yesterday.

The Czech government will order COVID-19 vaccinations for people working in hospitals and nursing homes as well as police officers, soldiers and some other professions and all citizens aged 60 and older, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Monday.

New York City has expanded its COVID-19 mandates, setting vaccine requirements for children as young as 5 years old and for workers at all private sector companies.

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

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).

2. UK study finds mixing Pfizer or AstraZeneca shots with Moderna gives better immune response

A major British study into mixing COVID-19 vaccines has found that people had a better immune response when they received a first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech shots followed by Moderna nine weeks later.

"We found a really good immune response across the board... in fact, higher than the threshold set by Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine two doses," Matthew Snape, the Oxford professor behind the trial dubbed Com-COV2, told Reuters.

The findings supporting flexible dosing will offer some hope to poor and middle-income countries which may need to combine different brands between first and second shots if supplies run low or become unstable.

"I think the data from this study will be especially interesting and valuable to low- and middle-income countries where they're still rolling out the first two doses of vaccines," Snape said.

3. Future pandemics could be worse than COVID-19, warns vaccine creator

Future pandemics could be even more lethal than COVID-19 so the lessons learned from the outbreak must not be squandered and the world should ensure it is prepared for the next pandemic, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has said.

"The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both," Sarah Gilbert said in the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, the BBC reported. "This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods."

Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said the world should make sure it is better prepared for the next virus.

"The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost," she said.