The global Covid-19 caseload has topped 262.14 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 5.20 million and vaccination to over 7.95 billion, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, US drug maker Pfizer said Covid-19 infections in the 'fully' vaccinated are rare but are more common and severe in people with weaker immune systems based on a real-world retrospective study led by the vax firm, involving nearly 1.2 million people.

Global Covid Caseload Today

In its latest update on Tuesday morning, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 262,143,965 and 5,207,160 respectively. And the total number of vaccine doses administered was 7,957,017,514.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 48,438,063 and 778,701, respectively according to the CSSE. The second worst hit country in terms of cases is India (34,580,832 infections and 468,790 deaths), followed by Brazil (22,084,749 infections and 614,376 deaths).

Covid test

The other worst countries with over 5 million cases are the UK (10,245,244), Russia (9,436,650), Turkey (8,772,342), France (7,731,351), Iran (6,113,192), Germany (5,825,626), Argentina (5,328,416), Spain (5,153,923) and Colombia (5,067,348), the CSSE figures showed.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Mexico (293,897), Russia (268,705), Peru (201,158), the UK (145,253), Indonesia (143,819), Italy (133,739), Iran (129,711), Colombia (128,473), France (119,997) and Argentina (116,554).

WHO Special Session on 'pandemic treaty' amid Omicron concerns

A special session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) kicked off in Geneva amid growing concerns over the latest Omicron coronavirus variant, where the participants aim to negotiate a new "pandemic treaty."

The WHA May session this year decided to set up a working group to consider the findings and recommendations of a number of panels and committees on global preparedness for Covid-19 before starting their discussions on the potential new "legally binding agreement between nations," on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Global covid caseload

"Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated fundamental weaknesses in the global architecture for pandemic preparedness and response," said the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the opening of the special session.

"The best way we can address them is with a legally binding agreement between nations, an accord forged from the recognition that we have no future but a common future," he said.

According to Tedros, the new "pandemic treaty" is expected to address Covid as "a crisis of solidarity and sharing."

"The lack of sharing of PPE (personal protective equipment), tests, vaccines, technology, know-how, intellectual property and other tools hindered our collective ability to prevent infections and save lives," he said, noting the lack of a consistent and coherent global approach has resulted in "a splintered and disjointed response, breeding misunderstanding, misinformation and mistrust."

Get prepared for Omicron

The WHA special session coincides with the emergence of the highly mutated Omicron virus variant, which was designated by the WHO as a "variant of concern" (VOC) just three days ago.

Though the WHO has said it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible or causes more severe disease than the other known variants, including Delta, concerns over its impact on the efficacy of existing vaccines and treatments have been growing.

A number of countries have already introduced entry bans on travellers from South Africa, where Omicron was first confirmed on November 9 and has been identified in multiple European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Portugal, and Sweden.

Sweden's Public Health Agency on Monday confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant, after a traveller who returned to Sweden last week from South Africa was tested.

Portugal's National Institute of Health Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) on Monday confirmed 13 cases of the Omicron variant in Portugal among players and staff members of the football club Belenenses SAD.

Global Covid Caseload Today

The INSA said that the samples were collected and analysed on Sunday, and that one of the players who tested positive had recently returned to the country from South Africa.

In Germany, the Covid seven-day incidence rate climbed to a new all-time high of 452.4, up from 386.5 a week ago, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases announced on Monday.

German virologist Christian Drosten told the broadcaster ZDF on Sunday that he was "quite concerned at the moment. I am surprised to see so many mutations in the virus."

In Cyprus, new anti-coronavirus measures relating to young school children came into force on Monday, with most Covid clusters currently being found in schools.

In addition to banning direct arrival from the eight African countries, most affected by the Omicron variant, all travellers coming from other destinations will also be tested for the coronavirus at airports, said Michalis Hadipantelas, Cyprus' health minister.

Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Monday that the country's government is set to announce new restrictions to cope with the new variant, including tightened flight rules on seven southern African nations.

"Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics: Our current system disincentivises countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores," said Tedros.