Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.9 million, with a figure of 5,917,660 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have continued past 429 million to a world wide figure of 429,718,461.

The World Health Organization is expanding its messenger RNA vaccine hub program that bypasses major pharmaceutical producers. The WHO will open a new facility in South Korea to provide training to workers from low and middle-income countries to produce vaccines, treatments and other medicines.

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A fourth dose of an inactivated Covid-19 vaccine, such as the one from Sinopharma, doesn’t offer additional protection against the omicron variant, according to a study from researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhau that was published in the South China Morning Post. The potency of the vaccine declines six months after a third injection, and giving a fourth doesn’t help, the study found. The researchers said different types of immunizations, such as a mRNA shot targeted at the variants of concern, would be a good option for a fourth shot, according to the report.

News by region


US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 78.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 941,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US health officials have said that some people getting Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines should consider waiting up to eight weeks between the first and second doses, instead of the three or four weeks previously recommended.

The Pentagon is expected to approve the deployment of 700 to 800 unarmed national guard troops to the nation’s capital, as trucker convoys plan protests against pandemic restrictions next week.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that he wants the city to move in coming weeks toward phasing out rules that require people to show proof of vaccination at restaurants, bars and other indoor spaces. Adams said he doesn’t want to act prematurely but is also eager to move the city back toward normalcy.

Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests are putting the US in an improved position to pull back on restrictions such as masking that were enacted to limit the spread of the virus, White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said. Many states have already dropped rules for mask-wearing, and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are poised to update federal masking guidelines as cases driven by the Omicron variant plummet across the country. Covid drugs like Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid that keep high-risk patients from hospitalization and death are becoming plentiful as production ramps up, Fauci said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “The Close.”

Los Angeles County will ease its mask mandate for some indoor settings starting Friday. The mask requirement can be dropped for businesses if customers and workers are fully vaccinated, or if they test negative for Covid-19, the county’s health department said.

Canada: Canada is lifting the emergency powers it enacted more than a week ago to contain street protests against pandemic restrictions, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying the unprecedented authority is no longer needed.

Uruguay: Moderna Inc. has signed a deal with a Uruguayan pharmaceutical company in a bid to expand its reach across Latin America. The Covid-19 vaccine maker announced the distribution deal Tuesday with Adium Pharma SA to market the shots in 18 countries in the region including Brazil and Mexico. The shots will be supplied from Moderna’s plants in the US and Europe, said Roman Saglio, head of commercial alliances for Latin America.

Caribbean: The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) warned the Caribbean was falling behind in its effort to fight Covid – as only 63% of its eligible population was vaccinated.


EU: Novavax said it has started shipping doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to European Union member states, with France, Austria and Germany expected to be the first to receive shots.

Poland: Poland will lift most of its restrictions from 1 March, but will continue with mandatory face coverings indoors and isolation rules.

Iceland: Iceland will lift all restrictions from Friday.

France: France has reported 66,833 new coronavirus cases, and has reported 2,753 people are in intensive with coronavirus, a decrease of 89 compared to the previous day.

UK: The UK reported 39,656 new cases, a 41% drop on two weeks ago today. A further 164 people died from Covid-related causes. NHS England has said that patients will still be required to wear face masks in GP practices and hospitals.

Meanwhile, fraud and error cost the UK government as much as £16bn across the Covid-19 emergency loan schemes, according to parliament’s spending watchdog.

Italy: Italy will end its Covid state of emergency on 31 March, prime minister Mario Draghi said. Italy has reported 49,040 new coronavirus cases, down from 60,029 the day previous, as well as 252 coronavirus deaths, down from 322 the day previous.

Asia pacific

Hong Kong: Hong Kong reported a record-breaking 8,674 new Covid infections, as the city state prepares for compulsory testing of its residents.

Thousands of bars and restaurants in Hong Kong will shut as some of the world’s toughest Covid restrictions, aimed at taming a record outbreak, deal a heavy blow to the once-vibrant city’s economy. About 5,000 restaurants – almost one third of Hong Kong’s eateries – may shut down for months to cut costs, said Simon Wong, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades. More than 1,200 have already suspended business and 300 have permanently closed, he said. Social-distancing rules, which have shut hair salons, gyms and other venues while limiting restaurants to two patrons per table, will last until at least 20 April.

China: More than 200 people have been infected with the delta variant in the northern province of Inner Mongolia, while an Omicron outbreak sparked by a conference-goers in Wuhan has spread to Beijing and the eastern coastal city of Qingdao. Another 100 people are part of an Omicron cluster in the eastern biotech hub of Suzhou, where 11 foreign companies reported production disruptions because of newly detected infections among employees, authorities said.

Overall a slew of flareups around the country, from mega cities to obscure border towns, have spawned more than 2,000 infections in the past two weeks as people returned to work after spending the Chinese New Year holiday in their hometowns. On Thursday China reported a total 109 domestic Covid-19 infections.

Thailand: Thailand reported a record 23,557 new Covid-19 cases, surpassing the previous August peak. The government also reported 38 deaths in the past 24 hours.

South Korea: South Korea’s prime minister called for calm after a record 170,000 Covid cases, amid warnings that the latest surge had yet to peak.

Meanwhile, South Korean officials approved Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for children aged five to 11, expanding the country’s immunisation programme in the face of a massive Omicron outbreak.

Singapore: Singapore’s plans to ease some virus rules in phases, originally due to start on 25 February and 4 March, will be delayed. The change, amid a surge in daily cases, is due in part to the extensive adjustments needed across different settings, the Ministry of Health said Thursday. Authorities will announce a new timeline shortly, and the rules will be streamlined simultaneously. The country will keep to the current processes in the meantime, it said. 

Taiwan: Taiwan plans to shorten its quarantine period to 10 days from 14 days starting on 7 March, and business travelers will be able to apply for special entry permits, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Welfare Thursday. It also plans to ease some Covid controls starting 1 March, such as allowing people to remove their masks while exercising outdoors. 

Australia: Western Australia’s biggest remote Aboriginal community has been put into lockdown after it recorded 17 Covid-19 cases since Wednesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported. The community of about 650 people has a double-vaccination rate of about 90%.

Africa and Middle East

South Africa: The World Heath Organization (WHO) set up a hub in South Africa to train low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines and is expanding its vaccine project to a further five nations. The WHO will transfer technology from its South African mRNA vaccine hub to five more countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Serbia and Vietnam – to give them a jump start on manufacturing the life-saving vaccines.