- 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 news stories: Moderna announces trial of Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine; Record cases around Europe and the Americas.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 362.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.62 million. More than 9.98 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
Moderna has announced a mid-stage study to test a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine specifically designed to target the Omicron variant. The news comes a day after Pfizer and BioNTech announced a trial of their own Omicron-specific jab. CEO Stéphane Bancel discussed an Omicron-specific vaccine at the Davos Agenda last week.
COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in England, with measures such as mask mandates and COVID passes, which were introduced in December, lapsing today.
The United States has shipped 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as part of its earlier pledge to donate about 1.2 billion doses to low-income countries, the White House said on Wednesday.
Tunisia has extended a night curfew and banned all gatherings for another two weeks to counter the rapid spread of COVID-19, the government said on Wednesday.
Austria's lockdown for people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will end on Monday, because pressure on hospitals has eased, the government announced yesterday.
Italy will ease COVID-19 restrictions for all visitors from European Union countries starting from 1 February, the health ministry has announced.
New research suggests that hospital room surfaces pose a low risk of spreading COVID-19.
The Biden Administration is withdrawing its COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for businesses, reports CNBC. The move comes after the US Supreme Court blocked the mandate earlier this month.
The BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, which is dominant in Denmark, appears more contagious than the more common BA.1 sub-lineage, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Wednesday.
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The Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is one of the largest multi-stakeholder collaborations in the social innovation sector.
The Alliance has 100 members – corporations, investors, philanthropists, governments, researchers, media, and industry actors – who work together to build an engaged ecosystem of key public and private sector leaders in support of a social innovation movement that transforms society to be more just, sustainable and equitable.
Launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis by the Schwab Foundation together with Ashoka, Catalyst2030, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business in April 2020.
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2. COVID-19 cases at highest ever in the Americas - PAHO
New cases of COVID-19 in the Americas in the past week have been their highest since the start of the pandemic, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said yesterday.
There were more than 8 million new cases, 32% higher than the previous week, while fatalities throughout the region also increased by 37%, with 18,000 new deaths caused by COVID-19.
The United States continues to have the highest number of new infections, although cases decreased by nearly 1 million over the last week, the regional health agency said.
Mexico's southern states have seen new infections triple and Brazil has seen new cases surge 193% over the last seven days, PAHO said in weekly briefing.
The agency also warned about the impact of the pandemic on children, with millions yet to return to the classroom.
3. Record COVID-19 cases reported across Europe
Numerous countries around Europe have reported record daily COVID-19 cases.
Germany crossed the 200,000 mark for the first time, with 203,136 confirmed infections in the previous 24 hours. This represents 69,600 more cases than the same day a week before.
Countries across Eastern Europe also set records, with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania all reporting their highest confirmed COVID-19 cases of the pandemic on Wednesday.