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A Kenyan cracks jokes about her cash outflow. In Canada, an Inuk woman gets traditional face tattoos. A Pakistani martial arts champ cracks walnuts with his elbow.

These videos are just a handful of the international gems on the social media platform TikTok. While much of the content on the app may seem silly or entertaining, many videos — which can last up to 3 minutes -- also carry deeper meaning. For some, the clips are an act of resistance or a way to represent their culture.

If you could wish for one thing in 2022, what would it be?

That's the question we posed to global thinkers. As the world enters year 3 of the pandemic, we were curious about what one (or two or three) things they would wish for to make earth a better place.

We heard from Nobel Peace Prize winners (Malala Yousafzai and Nadia Murad), doctors on the front line of the pandemic and advocates who devote their lives to help the most vulnerable humans.

When Millis Public Schools opened its doors for the start of the 2021-22 school year, teachers and staff were looking forward to seeing their students back in real classrooms.

"We were so excited that everyone was coming back to begin the school year," says Bob Mullaney, the superintendent of the suburban Boston school district.

But the transition has been more fraught than anticipated.

"From the beginning, we've seen elevated levels of stress, anxiety, different behavioral issues in students," says Mullaney.

BEIJING (AP) — China's lockdowns of big cities to fight coronavirus outbreaks are prompting concern about more disruptions to global industries after two makers of processor chips said their factories were affected.

That has added to unease about the omicron variant's global economic impact. Analysts warn Vietnam, Thailand and other countries important to manufacturing chains might impose anti-disease measures that would delay deliveries.

"Lockdowns in China are already causing disruptions," economists at Nomura said in a report Friday.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan approved new restrictions on Friday to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the three most affected southwestern regions of Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima.

"Given the sudden surge in infections, the medical system runs the risk of suffering a heavy burden in the near future," Daishiro Yamagiwa, the minister in charge of COVID-19 responses, said at a government panel meeting.

When it was discovered, omicron alarmed scientists.

The variant looked wildly different from earlier versions of the coronavirus — and it quickly became clear that these mutations gave omicron an uncanny ability to sidestep our vaccines and spread very rapidly.

But it has taken longer to untangle what, if anything, sets an omicron illness apart from that of its predecessors. And most of all, does this variant cause less severe disease than the variants that have come before it?

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As 2022 begins, most people in Afghanistan don't have enough food to eat. Millions are facing hunger and starvation amid a multiyear drought and an economic crash following the Taliban takeover in August. The onset of winter has only made things worse.

A vaccine authorized in December for use in India may help solve one of the most vexing problems in global public health: How to supply lower-income countries with a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe, effective and affordable.

The vaccine is called CORBEVAX. It uses old but proven vaccine technology and can be manufactured far more easily than most, if not all, of the COVID-19 vaccines in use today.

Updated January 5, 2022 at 5:47 PM ET

In normal times, Novak Djokovic would be warmly welcomed to the Australian Open, as the world No. 1 and the tournament's defending champion. But now, the reigning Australian Open men's champion — who is famously skeptical about the COVID vaccine and received a medical exemption from being vaccinated — is being barred entry to the country.

HONG KONG — Hong Kong authorities announced a two-week ban on flights from the United States and seven other countries and held 2,500 passengers on a cruise ship for coronavirus testing Wednesday as the city attempted to stem an emerging omicron outbreak.

The two-week ban on passenger flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States will take effect Sunday and continue until Jan. 21.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not adding a testing requirement to its isolation guidelines for people infected with COVID-19 who want to end their isolation after five days.

Despite pressure from health experts who advocated for adding a testing requirement, the agency is standing by its original guidance that a negative test is not needed for people who are fever-free and whose symptoms have improved.

Those who contracted the virus can end their isolation after five days while continuing to wear a well-fitting mask for an additional five days.

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In Peru, roughly 55% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID 19, but there are still millions yet to be immunized. So the most difficult to reach are in the rainforest of northeastern Peru, right where it pushes up against Brazil. Many remote villages, days away from any health clinic by boat, are spread along the Amazon and its numerous tributaries. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports health officials face many challenges as they try to run vaccination campaigns in this isolated area.

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MONTREAL, Quebec (AP) — Quebec proceeded with the first of three planned closures of non-essential retail stores Sunday as the provincial government tried to curb a new wave of COVID-19 driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Hospitals and health-care resources in Quebec and Canada's remote northern communities are also being stretched as case numbers explode.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced last week that the bulk of the province's stores would be closed for the next three Sundays, with the exception of pharmacies, convenience stores and gas stations.

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Child grooms are often overlooked in the fight to stop child marriage

Jan 2, 2022

The teenager dreamed of becoming a doctor. But that dream was derailed by child marriage. It's a familiar story – but in this case the details may surprise you.

The 15-year-old wasn't a child bride. He was a child groom.

Child marriage – defined by the United Nations as marriage under age 18 and considered a violation of human rights – disproportionally impacts girls. An estimated 650 million girls and women were married as children.

This year, Goats and Soda published a number of photo essays from photographers and artists from around the globe.

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases is testing the endurance of intensive care workers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

"You feel like, 'What am I doing here?' " says Dr. Nguyet Nguyen, a pulmonary critical care specialist at the hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. "I'm working as hard as I can and still all of these people are dying."

Coronavirus restrictions have been loosened in South Africa as case numbers wane in the country, though the government says that there is still reason for caution.

"All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level," the government said in a statement Thursday, adding that the risk of infection remains "given the high transmissibility of the omicron variant."

In late November, more than 110 people gathered at a crowded Christmas party at a restaurant in Oslo, Norway. Most of the guests were fully vaccinated. One had returned from South Africa just a few days earlier and was unknowingly carrying the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Ultimately, about 70% of the partygoers were infected.

Scientists who traced this superspreader event concluded it was evidence that omicron was "highly transmissible" among fully vaccinated adults.

SYDNEY (AP) — New coronavirus infections soared again in Australia on Friday to a record of more than 32,000, just days after surpassing 10,000 for the first time.

Experts say the explosion is being driven by the highly contagious omicron variant and a recent relaxation of restrictions in Sydney and other areas.

More than 15,000 of the new cases were reported in Sydney. Another 5,000 cases came from elsewhere in New South Wales state, while almost 6,000 were confirmed in Victoria state, home to the second largest city of Melbourne.

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Updated January 5, 2022 at 2:16 PM ET

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

As the producers of Fresh Air's web stories, we keep an eye on the pages that get the most traction throughout the year— and sometimes there are surprises.

What went wrong?

At year's end, that's the question being asked about the global effort to make sure that all countries get vaccines against COVID-19.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Chinese officials promised steady deliveries of groceries to residents of Xi'an, an ancient capital with 13 million people that is under the strictest lockdown of a major Chinese city since Wuhan was shut early last year at the start of the pandemic.

China's Commerce Ministry has contacted nearby provinces to help ensure adequate supplies of everyday necessities, a ministry spokesperson said Thursday.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Much of Asia has largely managed to keep omicron at bay even as the variant rages in other parts of the world, but the region that is home to most of the globe's population is bracing for what may be an inevitable surge.

Strict quarantine rules for arrivals and widespread mask wearing have helped slow the spread of the highly contagious variant in Asia. Countries such as Japan, South Korea and Thailand quickly reinstated entry and quarantine restrictions in recent weeks after relaxing them in the fall.

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