23 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,159,493 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 258 million world wide.

While Covid shots remain highly effective at keeping people alive and out of the hospital, new US data adds more support to the argument that they’re not preventing infections as much as they once did. Unvaccinated people were about five times more likely to test positive for the virus than the unvaccinated in the week starting 26 September, down from about 15 times more likely in May, according to the latest age-adjusted data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was updated Monday.

More than two-thirds of people in high-income countries have been fully vaccinated, while in low-income countries an average of less than one in 20 of people have received a single dose, according to a new report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

Helen Clark, the co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, has accused the UK of throwing unused vaccines “down the drain”. The former prime minister of New Zealand told a press conference today that vaccine manufacturing had been “far too slow” and urged countries such as the UK and the US to exert pressure on manufacturers and to redistribute vaccines.


US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 772,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US health officials are not currently recommending lockdowns or economic restrictions to curb rising Covid-19 cases, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Erie County in Western New York is implementing a mask mandate starting Tuesday, with coronavirus cases soaring in the region. Masks will be required at all indoor public locations including bars, grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, and places of worship, according to the county health department. Western New York has the highest 7-day average rate of positive tests in the state at 9.79%, compared to 3.82% statewide, according to state data.


The European Union will this week discuss updating its digital Covid-19 certificates and its approach to travel within and outside the bloc as member nations take varying steps to counter the latest wave of the pandemic.

Booster shots will be a topic of conversation when European affairs ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday, along with a debate over whether to change the length of time during which a vaccine certificate is valid, according to EU diplomats who declined to be named on confidential preparations.

The ministers, who have the task of preparing the next EU leaders’ summit on Dec. 16-17, will also discuss vaccine hesitancy, which has fueled sometimes violent street protests in several member states in recent days, one of the diplomats said.

France: Prime minister Jean Castex tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, hours after returning from a visit to neighbouring Belgium and just as France is seeing a nationwide resurgence of infections, according to his office.

Netherlands: Prime minister, Mark Rutte, has condemned violent anti-lockdown rioters as “idiots” after a wave of protests over the weekend. “This was pure violence disguised as protest,” said Rutte.

Germany: “Probably by the end of winter, more or less everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead,” German health minister, Jens Spahn, said. “That sounds cynical, but it’s the reality.” The outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, said tighter restrictions were needed.

German people are feverishly snapping up Covid test kits at drug stores and pharmacies as the country buckles under soaring infection rates and the government tightens the rules to access shops, restaurants and gyms. Home-use infection tests that provide a rapid read-out via a nasal swab have been hard to get in recent days.

UK: The UK reported an additional 44,917 new Covid cases and 45 new deaths. Prime minister Boris Johnson says the UK government is “concerned” about Covid, but that there is nothing to suggest that the country should bring back restrictions, despite rising cases across Europe.

The UK is to review its Covid-19 travel rules in January, the country’s aviation minister said today. Robert Courts’s comments come amid complaints from airlines who claim that day two coronavirus test requirements and passenger locator forms are putting people off travelling to and from the UK.

Greece: Greece imposes strict new Covid curbs, aimed at reducing Covid-19 infections that have pushed death rates to almost twice the EU average. The new restrictions went into effect as authorities struggled to convince older Greeks in particular to have the jab.

Italy: Italy’s health minister announced that Italians will be able to get a Covid booster five months after their first vaccination cycle.


Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s border with China won’t fully reopen before a 19 December vote on the local legislature, the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam told a briefing.

A delegation of Chinese health experts is conducting site inspections to review Hong Kong’s Covid-19 measures, part of the city’s bid to resume quarantine-free travel with the mainland.

Singapore: Singapore is seeing a slowdown in its virus cases, and recently further relaxed strict curbs that were put in place to prevent infections from overwhelming its healthcare system. However, ministers have cautioned against expecting any more major easing this year.

Philippines: Merck’s Covid-19 pill molnupiravir is now available for patients in the Philippines, Vice President Leni Robredo said.

Thailand: Thailand on Tuesday reported 5,126 new cases, the country’s lowest daily tally since 30 June, ahead of a scheduled review of further virus curb easing.  The Southeast Asian tourist hub’s virus task force is set to meet this week to consider demand from business operators to allow night entertainment venues to reopen, after having been closed since April.

Middle-east and Africa

Israel: Israel has started rolling out vaccinations for five- to 11-year-olds in a bid to bring down rising Covid infections.