- This daily news feed provides you with a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and resources to help you stay informed and protected.
- Top news stories: US issues new travel warnings as infection rate rises in Europe; Pfizer reports that its vaccine provides strong and long-lasting protection for adolescents; Expert panel calls for billions in new funding for the World Health Organization.
1. How COVID-19 Is Affecting the World
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global 258.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.16 million. More than 7.74 billion doses of vaccines have been administered worldwide, according to Our World in Data.
Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine provided strong long-term protection against the virus in late-stage research among adolescents ages 12 to 15. A series of two doses of the vaccine was 100% effective against COVID-19, measured from seven days to more than four months after the second dose, the company said.
Israel began rolling out Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccinations to 5- to 11-year-olds on Monday, hoping to stem a recent rise in coronavirus infections. A fourth wave of infections that hit Israel in June started to subside in September, but infection rates are rising again.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia banned unvaccinated people from hotels, pubs, hairdressers and most public events from Monday after COVID-19 cases filled hospital intensive care units, with most critically ill patients left unvaccinated.
India reported 7,579 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the smallest increase in a year and a half despite huge festival gatherings in recent weeks, thanks to rising vaccinations and antibodies from previous infections. The country of 1.35 billion people celebrated Durga Puja and Diwali this month, in which millions of people shop, travel and meet family.
French health authorities reported 5,266 new COVID-19 infections daily on Monday, bringing the seven-day moving average of new cases to a three-month high. The average – which overcomes daily reporting irregularities – rose to 18,479, a level unseen since August 27.
2. US issues ‘Do Not Travel’ COVID-19 warning for Germany, Denmark
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Department on Monday advised against traveling to Germany and Denmark due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in those countries.
The CDC raised its travel recommendation to “level four: very high” for the two European countries, telling Americans to travel there, while the State Department issued parallel “no travel” recommendations for both countries.
The CDC currently lists about 75 destinations worldwide at level four, with many European countries on the list, including Austria, Great Britain, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Romania, Ireland and the Czech Republic.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the leaders of her conservative party that measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Europe’s largest economy were insufficient and that stronger action was needed.
The number of cases in Germany has soared, especially among the elderly whose first two injections of the COVID-19 vaccine were at the beginning of the year, and among children who are not eligible for vaccination.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) said European countries must work harder to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further as deaths and new cases rise.
Current transmission rates in 53 European countries are “severe” and new cases are approaching record levels, exacerbated by the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus, WHO’s Hans Kluge warned. “We need to change our tactics from responding to spikes of COVID-19 to preventing them from happening in the first place,” he said.
3. The world must support WHO and sign a pandemic treaty, say expert panel
The World Health Organization (WHO) needs to be bolstered with more funding and increased capacity to research pandemics through a new treaty, an independent panel has said, ahead of a conference of health ministers next week.
Efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic have been uneven and fragmented, marked by limited access to vaccines in low-income countries, while the “healthy and rich” in rich countries get boosters, the experts said on high level in their latest review.
The panel co-chairs, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, reiterated a call for urgent reforms. These include new funding of at least $10 billion a year for pandemic preparedness and negotiations for a global pandemic treaty.
In May, the panel reviewed how WHO and member states had handled the pandemic, and said a new global response system must be put in place to ensure that no future virus can trigger a pandemic so devastating.
“There is progress, but it is not fast or cohesive enough to end this pandemic around the world in the short term, or prevent another one,” the panel said in the report.
More than 257 million people have been infected with the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus and 5.4 million have died since the first cases were diagnosed in central China in December 2019, according to a Reuters tally.
“Strengthening the authority and independence of the WHO and developing new legal instruments are crucial to the necessary reform package,” the panel said.