- 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.
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. 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.