(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Biden to debut at G7 with COVAX pledge
U.S. President Joe Biden will use his first meeting with leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies on Friday to announce an immediate $2 billion donation to the COVAX program co-led by the World Health Organization, officials said.
Britain, which holds the rotating chair of the G7 and is trying to recast itself as a steward of the rules-based international system following Brexit, will ask members to help speed up the development of future vaccines to 100 days.
Rich nations stockpiling a billion more shots than needed
Rich countries are on course to have over a billion more doses of COVID-19 vaccines than they need, leaving poorer nations scrambling for leftover supplies as the world seeks to curb the coronavirus pandemic, a report by anti-poverty campaigners found on Friday.
The report looked specifically at contracts with the five leading COVID-19 vaccine makers – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. It found that to date, the United States, the European Union, Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan have already secured more than 3 billion doses – over a billion more than the 2.06 billion needed to give their entire populations two doses.
Japan finds new strain, immigration centre reports infections
Japan confirmed a new variant of COVID-19, and an infection cluster emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility, presenting new challenges as the country tries to overcome a third wave of the pandemic.
The new strain appears to have originated overseas but is different from other types that have been found sporadically in Japan, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. It has the E484K mutation on the spike protein of the virus that has been found in other variants, which may undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.
Africa COVID-19 deaths surpass 100,000 after second wave
Africa’s reported COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 on Friday, a fraction of those reported on other continents but rising fast as a second wave of infections overwhelms hospitals.
The rise in deaths was pronounced in countries near South Africa like Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, said Richard Mihigo, coordinator of the immunisation programme at the World Health Organization’s Africa office, raising the possibility that the 501Y.V2 variant identified in South Africa late last year had spread through the southern Africa region – although more genomic sequencing needs to be carried out to prove that.