Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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May 18 (Reuters) - The world is no better prepared for a new pandemic than it was when COVID-19 emerged in 2019, and may be in a worse place given the economic toll, a panel set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) to evaluate the global response found. read more


* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.


* COVID-19 is rising in the Americas as many countries have abandoned measures such as masking and social distancing and many lag in vaccination rates, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said. read more

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* U.S. Health officials are considering extending the eligibility for a second vaccine booster dose to people under 50 amid a steady rise in cases, with the United States seeing a threefold increase over the last month. read more

* U.S. President Joe Biden is not considered a close contact of daughter Ashley Biden, who has tested positive for COVID-19, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said. read more

* U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday while on a trip to Berlin ahead of G7 meetings of health ministers, a spokesperson said. read more


* A lack of clear information out of China in the early stages of the pandemic has left the whole world in a worse situation, British health minister Sajid Javid said. read more


* China has removed certain COVID-19 test requirements for people flying in from countries including the United States and shortened the pre-departure quarantine period for some inbound travellers. read more

* Health authorities in Shanghai face huge pressure to keep COVID-19 at bay the longer the city goes without a new community infection with residents counting down the days until June 1 and the end of their hated lockdown. read more

* Shanghai authorities have granted approval to 864 of the city's financial institutions to resume work, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. read more


* Only 17% of Africa's 1.3 billion population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in part because richer nations hoarded supply last year to the chagrin of African nations desperate for international supplies. Now though, as doses finally arrive in force in the continent, inoculation rates are falling. read more


* An antiviral oral drug being co-developed by Shanghai Junshi Biosciences' (688180.SS) subsidiary and other Chinese institutes showed early promise in speeding the clearing of virus in COVID-19 patients, according to a small clinical trial. read more

* Rising COVID-19 cases are driving up the use of therapeutics, with Pfizer Inc's oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid seeing a 315% jump over the past four weeks, U.S. health officials said. read more

* Japan's economy shrank for the first time in two quarters in the January-March period as COVID-19 curbs hit the service sector and surging commodity prices created new pressures, raising concerns about a protracted downturn. read more

* China's new-home prices in April fell for the first time month-on-month since December, depressed by fragile demand in small cities and strict, widespread COVID-19 lockdowns.

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Compiled by Dina Kartit, Aditya Soni and Devika Syamnath; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Maju Samuel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.