Jason Beaubien

In the United States and many other wealthy countries, you can get a free COVID vaccine at supermarkets, pharmacies and clinics.

In other countries, it's a very different story.

The unwanted arrival of the omicron variant of COVID has been accompanied by an unwanted new set of social restrictions in many parts of the globe.

Starting next week, diners in Germany will not only have to show proof that they're vaccinated against COVID but that they're fully boosted to sit down at a restaurant.

Students in Ontario, Canada who had just recently returned to school have been ordered back to their virtual classrooms.

The port of Indiana is the largest town for miles on the Amazon River. People travel for days in long, narrow, wooden boats called peque peques down the Amazon and various tributaries to get to the markets in Indiana. Cargo barges and long botes rapidos that can carry dozen of passengers also stop at Indiana before heading down the river to Brazil. And yes, Indiana was named in 1948 after the U.S. state by a Peruvian who'd studied in Indianapolis.

When Karina Ahuanari's mother Teresa died of COVID on April 24, 2020, at a hospital in Peru's port city of Iquitos, their family had no idea what happened to her body.

At the time, the country was in lockdown and people couldn't leave their homes. Despite the COVID restrictions, Ahuanari's brother and sister-in-law went to the hospital to try to find the matriarch of their family.

The World Health Organization is convening a special session of its governing body, the World Health Assembly, to start talks on a new global treaty covering pandemics. Representatives of WHO's 194 member states will meet virtually for three days starting on Monday to consider new international rules for handling future outbreaks.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says the world has not worked well together to confront the current COVID-19 pandemic.

People in Iquitos, Peru, refer to their city as "una isla," an island, even though it's not an island. Iquitos is a port city of roughly 400,000 people on the Amazon River in northeastern Peru. Residents proudly note that it's the largest city in the world that's unreachable by road. You can only get there by boat or by plane.

In the early days of the COVID pandemic being isolated seemed like an advantage. It might delay the arrival of the virus. It might make it easier to contain. But that didn't turn out to be the case for Iquitos.

TB patients have become collateral damage in the train wreck that is COVID-19.

Until the emergence of COVID, tuberculosis was the deadliest infectious disease in the world. But health care workers were making slow, steady progress to contain it. Now for the first time in more than a decade the death toll from TB is rising.

Tuberculosis killed roughly 1.5 million people in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, up from 1.4 million in 2019. And researchers say COVID is to blame.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The world's arsenal against malaria just got a fancy new bazooka. But it's not the easiest weapon to deploy, it only hits its target 30 to 40% of the time, and it's not yet clear who's going to pay for it.

The weapon in question is the RTS,S vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline, which on Wednesday got the green light from the World Health Organization for widespread use.

This is not only the first authorized malaria vaccine, it's also the first vaccine ever approved for use against a parasitic disease in humans.

A huge trove of leaked financial documents called the Pandora Papers has exposed the offshore financial dealings of hundreds of the world's global elites, including more than 330 politicians from nearly 100 countries.

The nearly 12 million documents were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The ICIJ worked with more than 600 journalists in 117 countries to sift through the records.

Pages