COVID-19: Top news stories about the pandemic on 12 January – World Economic Forum

  • 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: Too soon to treat COVID-19 like flu, says WHO; Omicron-specific vaccines might be needed; record daily COVID-19 cases reported in numerous countries.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 313.6 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.5 million. More than 9.49 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Indonesia has started its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme. Cases have hit an almost three-month high amid the rise of the Omicron variant.

South Korea has approved the use of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine and is also set to start distribution of Pfizer’s antiviral pills.

The Biden administration said on Tuesday that US federal agencies should require weekly COVID-19 testing by 15 February for unvaccinated government employees who are working on-site or interacting with the public.

Colombia has reduced the interval between second and third COVID-19 vaccine doses from six to four months.

Israel has cut its isolation time for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases from 10 days to seven.

Ireland is expected to lift restrictions on the movement of people who have been in close contact with someone suffering from COVID-19 if they are fully vaccinated with a booster and have no symptoms.

Record daily confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in Germany (80,430), Bulgaria (7,062), France (368,149) and Turkey (74,266).

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Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries.

Image: Our World in Data

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is a coalition of 85 global leaders, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Its mission: Join hands in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere as vital first responders to the pandemic and as pioneers of a green, inclusive economic reality.

Its COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda, outlines 25 concrete recommendations for key stakeholder groups, including funders and philanthropists, investors, government institutions, support organizations, and corporations. In January of 2021, its members launched its 2021 Roadmap through which its members will roll out an ambitious set of 21 action projects in 10 areas of work. Including corporate access and policy change in support of a social economy.

For more information see the Alliance website or its “impact story” here.

2. Too soon to treat COVID-19 like flu – WHO

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is on track to infect more than half of Europeans, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned yesterday.

“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next 6-8 weeks,” WHO’s Europe director Hans Kluge told a news briefing, referring to a research centre at the University of Washington.

Europe saw more than 7 million newly-reported cases in the first week of 2022, more than doubling over a two-week period, Kluge said.

But treating COVID-19 as an endemic illness, rather than a pandemic, is “a way off”, WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told the same briefing.

“We still have a huge amount of uncertainty and a virus that is evolving quite quickly, imposing new challenges. We are certainly not at the point where we are able to call it endemic,” she said. “It may become endemic in due course, but pinning that down to 2022 is a little bit difficult at this stage.”

3. WHO body says COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated for Omicron

A World Health Organization (WHO) technical body said yesterday that current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be reworked to ensure they are effective against Omicron and future variants of the coronavirus.

The technical group, made up of independent experts, said it would consider a change in vaccination composition and stressed that shots needed to be more effective in protecting against infection.

“The composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease by VOCs (variants of concern), including Omicron and future variants,” the technical body, tasked with making recommendations to the WHO, said in a statement.

“COVID-19 vaccines need to … elicit immune responses that are broad, strong and long-lasting in order to reduce the need for successive booster doses,” it added.

“A vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable.”

However, the statement stopped short of advocating an Omicron-specific vaccine at this stage, saying more research was required and urging manufacturers to share data.

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