- 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: Germany recommends COVID-19 booster for 12- to 17-year-olds; 100 million COVID-19 shots rejected because of short shelf-life; minimum self-isolation period cut in England.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 320 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.52 million. More than 9.57 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
One thousand military health personal are being dispatched to hospitals in six US states to help tackle the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
South Korea will extend tougher social distancing rules for another three weeks amid concerns around a coming wave of Omicron infections - especially ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.
The Philippines' coronavirus task force will extend COVID-19 curbs in the capital region and other provinces until the end of January, a spokesperson said on Friday.
Indonesia has approved Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill for emergency use, the country's food and drug agency has said in a statement.
Hong Kong, SAR, will suspend transit flights for a month from around 150 countries and territories consider high risk because of COVID-19.
The Chinese city of Shanghai has suspended some tourism activities as part of efforts to tackle a handful of new local COVID-19 infections.
A World Health Organization (WHO) panel recommended the use of two drugs by Eli Lilly, and GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology for COVID-19 patients.
The minimum COVID-19 self-isolation period in England will be cut to five days from seven if someone tests negative twice, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday.
France has reported 305,322 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the seven-day moving average of new confirmed cases to nearly 294,000.
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2. Germany recommends COVID-19 booster for 12- to 17-year-olds
Germany's vaccine committee has recommended that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a COVID-19 booster shot. It comes as the country reported a new record rise in confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 - 81,417.
Omicron has also become the dominant COVID-19 variant in the country, with the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases now reporting it accounts for 73.3% of cases nationwide.
The move on booster shots makes Germany among the first countries in the world to make such a recommendation, following the United States, Israel and Hungary.
"The current situation, with a sharp increase in the number of cases due to the Omicron variant and the feared consequences for the health system in Germany, makes it necessary to extend the vaccination campaign," the STIKO vaccine committee said.
The third dose should be an mRNA shot from BioNTech/Pfizer and should be given, at the earliest, three months after the child had their second shot, STIKO said in a statement.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not given regulatory approval, so Germany would be responsible for any liabilities linked to the booster for this age group.
3. 100 million COVID-19 shots rejected because of short shelf-life
Poorer nations last month rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the global programme COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiry date, a UNICEF official said on Thursday.
The big figure shows the difficulties of vaccinating the world despite growing supplies of shots, with COVAX getting closer to delivering 1 billion doses to a total of nearly 150 countries.
"More than a 100 million have been rejected just in December alone," Etleva Kadilli, director of Supply Division at UNICEF told lawmakers at the European Parliament.
The main reason for rejection was the delivery of doses with a short shelf-life, she said.
Poorer nations have also been forced to delay supplies because they have insufficient storage facilities, Kadilli said, including a lack of fridges for vaccines.
Gavi, the vaccine alliance which co-manages COVAX, said that most vaccines recently shipped by COVAX had a long shelf-life, and were therefore unlikely to go wasted.