COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 15 December


  • This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: US and Canada begin inoculations; Netherlands enters lockdown; new restrictions for London.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 72.8 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.62 million.

Japan’s economy won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until at least early 2022, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Jet fuel market profits have increased, thanks to increasing air cargo demand, gradually recovering passenger traffic and hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine will boost international travel next year.

Key global jet fuel refining margins

A cautious takeoff?

Image: Reuters

Airlines are being warned to take extra care when reactivating planes left in extended storage as a result of the pandemic – with pilot rustiness, maintenance errors and even insect nests all cause for concern.

Moderna has said that some documents, related to pre-submission talks of its COVID-19 vaccine, were accessed in a cyberattack on the European Medicines Agency.

Sweden was close to an all-time high yesterday for the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in hospital.

Spain expects to start vaccinating people against the coronavirus by 4 or 5 of January, if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives the green light to a vaccine on 29 December, health minister Salvador Illa said on Monday.

Czech restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues will close again on Friday, just two weeks after reopening. The measures have been taken as a result of rising cases.

The UK’s capital, London, and some surrounding parts of the southeast of England will be put under stricter COVID-19 restrictions from Wednesday.

Announcing the new restrictions, Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said over 1,000 cases of a new coronavirus variant had been identified in the past few days in England. He said it was growing faster than the existing variants, but was “highly unlikely” it wouldn’t respond to a vaccine.

In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, with an initial pledge of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for all – wherever people live in the world.

Along with saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years,through the vaccination of nearly 700 million children, – Gavi has most recently ensured a life-saving vaccine for Ebola.

At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi’s partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of years of energy and commitment from Merck; the generosity of Canada’s federal government; leadership by WHO; strong support to test the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the West Africa outbreak; and the rapid response and dedication of the DRC Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance, and how you can contribute to the improvement of access to vaccines globally – in our Impact Story.

2. US and Canada begin inoculations

An intensive care unit nurse in New York City yesterday became the first person in the United States to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Sandra Lindsay said. “I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”

It comes as the virus’s death toll in the United States passed 300,000 – nearly 120,000 more than any other country in the world.

Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the United States

US deaths have passed 300,000.

Image: Our World in Data

Canada also began its innoculation programme yesterday. Frontline healthcare workers and elderly nursing home residents were among the first to receive the jab.

3. Netherlands to enter new lockdown

Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, has announced that the Netherlands will go into a second lockdown. Schools and shops will close until 19 January.

“The Netherlands is closing down,” he said to the sound of protesters banging pots and pans outside his office in The Hague. “We realise the gravity of our decisions, right before Christmas.”

Gatherings are also limited to no more than two people. An exception will be made for three days across the Christmas period, when three adult visitors will be permitted.

Residents were advised to stay at home, not to travel to work and to avoid contact with other people as much as possible.

“The less contacts we have, the better. We have to do everything to get to a better place. And yes, it will get better.”

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