COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 11 January

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks on a street, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India, January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
India is grappling with a rise in COVID-19 over recent weeks.
Image: REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
  • 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: US reports 1.35 million COVID-19 cases in one day; study shows how T cells from colds may protect against COVID; Poland's total COVID-19 death toll has passed 100,000.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 310.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.49 million. More than 9.46 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

New COVID-19 cases in Australia continue to hover around record levels, with Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews warning of "significant pressure in our health system".

Poland's total COVID-19 death toll has passed 100,000, the country's health minister has announced.

Japan has announced its tight entry restrictions, in place to prevent the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, will remain in place until the end of February.

India has reported 168,063 new COVID-19 cases - less than the previous day's figure of 179,723.

Pfizer's Chief Executive Albert Bourla said yesterday that a redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant is likely needed. The company could have one ready to launch by March, he said.

Chile has begun its roll-out of a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people - a first for the region.

Peru reported an all-time high of 70,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the first week of January, a health official said yesterday.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 in France rose by 767 to 22,749 on Monday, the biggest increase since April 2021.

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. US reports 1.35 million COVID-19 cases in one day

The United States reported a record 1.35 million new COVID-19 cases yesterday, according to a Reuters tally, the highest daily total for any country since the start of the pandemic.

The previous record was 1.03 million, reported in the US on 3 January. A large number of cases are reported each Monday as many states do not report over the weekend. The seven-day average for new cases has now tripled in two weeks to over 700,000.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has also hit an all-time high in the US.

3. Study: How T cells from colds may protect against COVID

T cells created by the body to ward off the common cold can actually help protect against the virus that causes COVID-19 - and could aid in future vaccine development.

Scientists at Imperial College London found the presence of T cells at the time of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can influence whether someone becomes infected.

Dr Rhia Kundu, from Imperial’s National Heart & Lung Institute, says: “Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t always result in infection, and we’ve been keen to understand why. We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection."

However, Dr Kundu warned people should still get their booster: "While this is an important discovery, it is only one form of protection, and I would stress that no one should rely on this alone. Instead, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated, including getting your booster dose.”

Previous research looked at whether other T cells induced by other coronaviruses, including the common cold, could recognize SARS-CoV-2.

T cells are white blood cells that are a vital part of the body's immune response to disease and they play different roles.

"They can act as 'killer cells', attacking cells which have been infected with a virus or another kind of pathogen, or they can act as 'helper cells' by supporting B cells to produce antibodies," says Imperial's Professor Rosemary Boyton.

The latest findings could provide a blueprint for a second-generation, universal vaccine that could prevent infection from current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron.

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