From the push for a patent waiver for COVID vaccines to calls for governments to fund programs to prevent future pandemics

World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says he supports a patent waiver for COVID vaccines to allow countries to make and sell cheap copies of vaccines that were invented elsewhere.

Related: A ‘me first’ approach to vaccination won’t defeat Covid


The campaign to get the World Trade Organisation to waive intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments remains in limbo after the proposal failed to gain high-income country support at last week’s General Council meeting with many countries, including Canada, Australia, and Chile, requesting evidence that the waiver would actually accomplish its proponents’ goals.

Related: The countries that don’t want the COVID-19 vaccine


Too poor to compete with the world’s wealthiest countries and secure vaccines direct from manufacturers, but too rich to garner the attention of activists and development actors campaigning for vaccines for low-income nations, health experts say middle-income countries are increasingly at risk of being left behind in the global vaccination effort as they find themselves caught between two extremes.

Related: Is COVAX part of the problem or the solution?


A new coalition of health and environment groups, Preventing Pandemics at the Source, is calling for governments to include measures tackling the destruction of nature in their post-Covid recovery plans, saying failing to do so will leave the world playing an ‘ ill-fated game of Russian roulette with pathogens’.

Related: Blind spots: What COVID-19 revealed about global development’s biggest gaps


A new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience says the climate crisis is pushing the planet’s tropical regions towards the limits of human livability, with rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions should governments fail to curb global heating to 1.5C above the pre-industrial era.

Related: Budget cuts and collapse in tourism revenue pose ‘severe’ threat to nature


Climate experts say China’s new five year economic plan could lead to a strong rise in greenhouse gas emissions based on the figures shared on Friday, which state China will reduce its ’emissions intensity’ – the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP – by 18% over the next five years, a target that could see emissions continuing to increase by 1% a year or more.

Related: Governments failing to fulfil talk of green Covid recovery, UN warns


A new study published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says one in four women and girls around the world have been physically or sexually assaulted by a husband or male partner, with WHO estimating that, once figures for non-partner violence are included, about a third of women aged 15 or older – between 736 million and 852 million – will experience some form of sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

Related: 10 million additional girls at risk of child marriage due to COVID-19


Abortion rights advocates are pushing for the Democratic party to repeal the 1973 Helms Amendment restricting U.S. foreign assistance for health-care providers offering certain abortion services, saying it deters aid recipients from providing any abortion services for fear of violating U.S. requirements.

Related: Tracking gender equality funding: What 2 major donors did in 2020


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced he will convene a High-Level Task Force on Preventing Famine, as millions around the globe find themselves on the ‘brink of extreme hunger and death’.

Related: Lancet launches third series on child and maternal malnutrition


The British government is reportedly looking at making its planned reduction in aid spending without putting the cuts to a vote in the Commons to avoid a potential rebellion by Conservative MPs, a move that could expose the government to legal action.

Related: Leak reveals UK Foreign Office discussing aid cuts of more than 50%


As the war in Syria approaches the 10 year mark, UNICEF says nearly 90 per cent of children in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance with a 20 per cent increase in the past year alone.

Related: Humanitarian crisis looms on Chile-Bolivia border as migrants cross on foot


As the Biden administration reviews its predecessor’s commitments made through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), experts say the new administration will face challenges in striking the ‘right balance among the agency’s foreign policy, national security, and development priorities’.

Related: With debt-for-climate swaps in Africa, timing is crucial