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COVID-19: Top news stories about the pandemic on 13 December | World Economic Forum – World Economic Forum

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Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 270.1 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.3 million. More than 8.45 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
China’s Brii Biosciences said yesterday that lab studies have shown its COVID-19 antibody cocktail retains activity against the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Indonesia will start administering COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6-11 from tomorrow.
Australia has announced plans to shorten the wait time for people to receive a COVID-19 booster, following a rise in cases of the Omicron variant. The gap between second and third dose will be cut from six to five months.
It comes as the country’s Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, called for Australia to continue to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in order to bolster its economic recovery.
Britain has raised its COVID-19 alert level from level 3 to level 4 on its 5-point scale in response to the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
China has vaccinated more than 80% of its population against COVID-19, a health official announced on Saturday.
The numbers of nurses around the world are falling, with an imbalance as Western countries also step up the recruitment of healthcare workers from developing countries, the International Council of Nurses warned on Friday.
Israeli researchers said on Saturday that they’ve found a three-shot course of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine provided significant protection against the new Omicron variant.
The findings were similar to those presented by BioNTech and Pfizer earlier last week, which were an early signal that booster shots could be key to protect against infection from the newly identified variant.
“People who received the second dose 5 or 6 months ago do not have any neutralization ability against the Omicron. While they do have some against the Delta (strain),” Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center, which carried out the study with the Health Ministry’s Central Virology Laboratory.
“The good news is that with the booster dose it increases about a hundredfold. There is a significant protection of the booster dose. It is lower than the neutralization ability against the Delta, about four times lower,” she said.
It followed an announcement from the UK Health Security Agency on Friday, which said booster shots significantly restore protection against mild disease caused by the variant.
A new report from the World Bank and World Health Organization suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to halt two decades of progress around the world towards Universal Health Coverage.
Immunization coverage dropped for the first time in 10 years and deaths from TB and malaria increased as health systems were stretched by the impacts of the pandemic.
The organizations also warn that half a billion people are being forced into poverty because they have to pay for healthcare expenses out of their own pockets.
“There is no time to spare,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “All governments must immediately resume and accelerate efforts to ensure every one of their citizens can access health services without fear of the financial consequences. This means strengthening public spending on health and social support, and increasing their focus on primary health care systems that can provide essential care close to home.”
As part of work identifying promising technology use cases to combat COVID, The Boston Consulting Group recently used contextual AI to analyze more than 150 million English language media articles from 30 countries published between December 2019 to May 2020.
The result is a compendium of hundreds of technology use cases. It more than triples the number of solutions, providing better visibility into the diverse uses of technology for the COVID-19 response.
To see a full list of 200+ exciting technology use cases during COVID – please follow this link.

Joe Myers, Writer, Formative Content
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
Top stories: Britain confirms first Omicron death; WHO warns Omicron poses 'high risk'; Norway bans alcohol in new COVID-19 measures.
Deaths from alcohol in 2020 were up almost 19% in the UK with the previous year, according to the ONS marking the largest single-year increase since 2001.
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