COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 6 December

A pharmacist prepares a dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pfizer vaccine amidst the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 04, 2021. Picture taken December 04, 2021. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham
A new report has warned of 'extreme vaccine discrimination' in the fight against COVID-19.
Image: REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham
  • 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: Omicron now in one-third of US states; New report warns of 'extreme vaccine discrimination' leaving Africa behind; Countries around the world continue to report new Omicron COVID-19 cases.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 265.8 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.25 million. More than 8.18 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Thailand has detected its first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, a health official said today.

South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions, as the Omicron COVID-19 variant pushes the country into a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

The UK reported 86 new cases of the Omicron variant on Sunday, bringing its total identified so far to 246.

Australia's medicines regulator has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 5-11.

Spain's Hipra is confident there will be European Union demand for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine once approved for use, as it is designed to protect against new variants, can be moved easily and produced in mass quantity, a top executive said.

South Korea has reported three more cases of the Omicron variant. It comes after it reported a record daily number of new COVID-19 cases on Friday - 5,352.

Senegal has reported its first confirmed case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Indian state of Maharashtra said yesterday it had detected seven new cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, bringing the country's total to 12.

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. Omicron variant found in one-third of US states

US health officials said yesterday that the Omicron variant has been detected in about a third of states. However, they said that the Delta variant remains responsible for the majority of cases across the country.

Though the emergence of the new variant has caused alarm worldwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, told CNN "thus far it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it". He added that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions and that more study is needed.

US Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News that the Delta variant still accounts for 99.9% of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States.

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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.

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3. 'Extreme' vaccine discrimination risks leaving Africa behind: report

A new report has warned that Africa has little chance of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic unless 70% of its population is vaccinated by the end of next year, but "extreme vaccine discrimination" is leaving the continent behind.

Only five of Africa's 54 countries are on track to reach a World Health Organization target of fully vaccinating 40% of the population by end-2021, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said in a report on COVID-19 in Africa.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by continent.
COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by continent.
Image: Our World in Data

"From early in this crisis, our Foundation and other African voices have been warning that an un-vaccinated Africa could become a perfect incubator for variants," its chair Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese telecoms billionaire, said in a statement.

"The emergence of Omicron reminds us that COVID-19 remains a global threat, and that vaccinating the whole world is the only way forward," he added. "Yet we continue to live with extreme vaccine discrimination, and Africa, in particular, is being left behind."

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