BREAKING NEWS
newsdailyApril 17, 2021
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4min540

RIO DE JANEIRO: The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people, amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day. “This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.–AP reported.

 


newsdailyMarch 10, 2021
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2min790

Islamabad: Covid-19 vaccine will be Starts today across Pakistan by giving senior citizens, those above the age of 60. An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, said that most senior citizens who have registered for vaccination will receive a message with instructions on their mobile phones and the oldest persons will be vaccinated first.

Pakistan had started the registration of people over the age of 60 for the immunization programme from February 15. The citizens asked to send a message at 1166 or enter their details at the national immunization management system (NIMS) website. Once registered, the eligible citizens will be informed about the vaccine centre and the date of vaccination through a text message, the officials had said.

On the other hand, only 180,000, 2.25 per cent, of around eight million senior citizens in the country have registered themselves for inoculation so far. NCOC Chief Asad Umar on Sunday announced that the vaccination of people aged 60 years and above will start from Wednesday. Vaccinations will be done in reverse order by age, he wrote in a tweet.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also shared a tweet.

The country’s death toll has reached to 13,324 while the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases stands at 595,239.


newsdailyMarch 10, 2021
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2min520

West Bank Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is appealing to the international community to deliver promised vaccines against COVID-19. His office says the prime minister on Tuesday urged friendly countries and companies, as well as the World Health Organization, to “fulfill their obligations to us.”

According to news agencies, Shtayyeh says U.N. deliveries expected this month through COVAX, the WHO-backed program to assist poorer nations, are now delayed. The virus has surged through the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Israel has come under significant international criticism for giving its own population vaccines without doing the same for Palestinians. This week, the government began vaccinating Palestinian laborers who work in Israel.

However, that effort will only vaccinate a small percentage of the roughly 5 million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip. Israel says under past peace accords, it is not responsible for vaccinating the Palestinian populations in those areas. Human rights groups say Israel remains an occupying power with an obligation to assist the Palestinians. Associated press reported.

 


newsdailyMarch 9, 2021
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1min680

ساٹھ سال اور اس سے زائد عمر کے افراد کو کورونا وائرس سے بچائوکی ویکسین لگانے کا عمل کل سے شروع ہو گا۔
منصوبہ بندی و ترقی کے وزیر اسد عمر نے کہا ہے کہ کورونا وائرس کی ویکسین زیادہ عمر سے کم عمر کے حساب سے لگائی جائے گی اور رجسٹریشن کرانے والے معمر افراد کو ویکسین پہلے لگائی جائے گی۔


newsdailyFebruary 25, 2021
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3min1250

JOHANNESBURG: The African Union is backing calls for drugmakers to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries, the head of its disease control body said on Thursday.

South Africa and India, which both manufacture drugs and vaccines, made the proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year, arguing that intellectual property (IP) rules were hindering the urgent scale-up of vaccine production and provision of medical products to some patients.

They have faced opposition from some developed nations, but the backing of the African Union (AU) may give renewed impetus for the push to relax IP rules. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news conference that IP transfer was a “win-win for everybody” that would address the huge inequalities in global public health.

He gave two examples where the developing world had suffered because of restricted access to medicines: the swine flu pandemic in the late 2000s and HIV/AIDS in the 1990s.

“In 1996, HIV drugs were available, and we saw how mortality in the developed world decreased drastically. But it would take 10 years before those drugs were accessible in Africa in any meaningful way,” he said.

“In between, 12 million Africans died, so I just use those numbers to say: any IP transfer will be beneficial to everybody, because nobody wants to sit back and be proud of that sad event. We want to be on the right side of history.”

Nkengasong added the Africa CDC’s regulatory taskforce had approved two versions of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a day after Ghana received its first AstraZeneca doses from global vaccine distribution facility COVAX. He said the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine had submitted a “full dossier” of data to the Africa CDC and that in the coming days an expert panel would review the data and make a pronouncement.

“We have not received dossiers yet from China colleagues, but we remain optimistic that they will submit to us,” he continued. Several countries on the continent, including Egypt, Zimbabwe and Senegal, have already started rolling out Chinese COVID-19 shots.–Reuters

 


newsdailyFebruary 23, 2021
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BEIRUT : The World Bank threatened Tuesday to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were violations by members of parliament who were inoculated without registering in advance.

Such a move by the World Bank would have grave consequences as Lebanon struggles through severe financial and economic crises and is in desperate need of aid. The World Bank said last month it approved $34 million to help pay for vaccines for Lebanon to inoculate over 2 million people. The vaccination campaign began Feb. 14 and Lebanon has so far received nearly 60,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The World Bank and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have signed an agreement for independent monitoring of Lebanon’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.

“There were many violations that took place at vaccination centers,” said Sharaf Abu Sharaf, president of Lebanese Order of Physicians. He said the violations included vaccinating people who were not registered or not included in the first phase of the campaign.

Lebanon is notorious for corruption and nepotism, which has brought the Mediterranean nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

The vaccination of lawmakers at a building used by the legislature to hold meetings raised anger among the country’s population. Many have lost faith in the corrupt political class blamed for many of the country’s problems.

Abdul Rahman Bizri, who heads the committee supervising the vaccination campaign, had planned to resign in protest Tuesday but changed his mind, saying his committee will hold a meeting Wednesday to follow up the case.

He added that an explanation is needed from the legislature. “What happened today is outrageous and should not be repeated,” Bizri said. “There is no political priority.” Bizri said that before he held the news conference he discussed the matter with the regional director of the World Bank.

“Everyone has to register and wait for their turn! #nowasta,” the World Bank’s regional director, Saroj Kumar Jha, tweeted. He used a Lebanese term meaning there should not be nepotism.

Parliament’s secretary general, Adnan Daher, was quoted by state media as denying the 16 legislators had jumped the line, which prioritizes medical workers and residents at least 75 years old. Daher said all of the legislators who received an inoculation had registered and were properly in line.

Some of the legislators inoculated Tuesday are younger than 75, according to names leaked to local media, including Deputy Parliament Speaker Elie Ferzli who is 71. Ferzli confirmed in a tweet that he registered to take the vaccine in late January.

In January, Lebanon’s government launched a digital coronavirus vaccination registration platform to people living in the tiny nation.

The World Bank “may suspend financing for vaccines and support for COVID19 response across Lebanon!!” Jha tweeted. “I appeal to all, I mean all, regardless of your position, to please register and wait for your turn.”

Jha said the vaccination plan “is not in line with the national plan agreed with @WorldBank and we would record it (as a) breach of terms and conditions agreed with us for fair and equitable vaccination.”

Lebanon, a country of 6 million people including a million Syrian refugees, has registered more than 356,000 coronavirus cases and 4,387 deaths since the first case was registered in February last year.–AP


newsdailyFebruary 23, 2021
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3min250

After a year that has darkened doorways across the U.S., the pandemic surpassed a milestone Monday that once seemed unimaginable, a stark confirmation of  the virus reach into all corners of the country and communities of every size and makeup.

“It’s very hard for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or have a family member who has died,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We haven’t really fully understood how bad it is, how devastating it is, for all of us.”

Experts warn that about 90,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months, despite a massive campaign to vaccinate people. Meanwhile, the nation’s trauma continues to accrue in a way unparalleled in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon.

In recent weeks, virus deaths have fallen from more than 4,000 reported on some days in January to an average of fewer than 1,900 per day.

Still, at half a million, the toll recorded by Johns Hopkins University is already greater than the population of Miami or Kansas City, Missouri. It is roughly equal to the number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. It is akin to a 9/11 every day for nearly six months.

“The people we lost were extraordinary,” President Joe Biden said Monday, urging Americans to remember the individual lives claimed by the virus, rather than be numbed by the enormity of the toll. “Just like that,” he said, “so many of them took their final breath alone in America.”–AP

 


newsdailyFebruary 19, 2021
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9min290

BAGHDAD: In the busy emergency room of Baghdad’s main public hospital, Ali Abbas stood face uncovered, waiting for his sickly father. Dozens of other patients and their relatives mingled without masks.

It’s a scene that confounds health workers in Iraq, who warn that the country is entering a new wave of coronavirus cases, in part because many shirk precautions. “I don’t believe in the coronavirus, I believe in God,” the 21-year-old Abbas said in the middle of the hospital floor, defying the facility’s rules requiring masks.

On Friday, Iraq was under its first full day of a new curfew imposed by the government in response to infection rates that have shot back up again after easing last autumn. The curfew runs all day Friday to Sunday, and from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. the rest of the week. Mosques and schools are closed, large gatherings prohibited, and the wearing of masks and other protective gear will be enforced, according to a statement from the government.

A complete lockdown, including closing airports and borders, is also being considered, two government officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

New cases, down under 600 a day just a month ago, have sharply increased, reaching 3,896 a day on Feb. 18 and approaching September’s daily peak of more than 5,000. The Health Ministry says 50% of the new cases are from the new, more infectious strain that first broke out in the U.K. More than 657,000 people have been infected by the virus in Iraq and 13,220 have died since February.

Doctors told The Associated Press they’ve seen the flare-up coming for weeks. They blame a careless public and a government unable to fully enforce virus protocols. “I am a doctor fighting public ignorance, not the pandemic,” said Mohammed Shahada, a pulmonologist at Baghdad’s al-Zahra Hospital.

At al-Zahra Hospital, the year began with just four patients in the 90-bed isolation ward. By the start of February, that jumped to 30 severe virus patients. Shahada expects more in the coming weeks. At his private clinic, some patients have walked out rather than abide by his strict face mask requirement, he said. Ismail Taher, a doctor at Baghdad’s Sheikh Zayed hospital, estimated that only one in 10 people walking into his hospital wear masks.

The Health Ministry said earlier this month that a new wave was being driven by religious activities — including Friday prayers and visits to shrines — and large crowds in markets, restaurants, malls and parks, where greetings with handshakes and kisses are the norm.

The ministry also blamed “some people who are openly questioning the existence of the pandemic.” “It’s just the flu,” said Yahya Shammari, a 28-year old college graduate. “I went to the hospital twice with no mask on and I didn’t get infected.”

Rahem Shabib, 32, said he noticed how infection rates dipped following the Shiite Muslim Arbaeen pilgrimage in October. “So God is stronger than COVID-19,” he said.

The Arbaeen brings millions from around the world to Iraq for commemorations connected to the 7th century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. This year, Iraq banned foreign pilgrims from attending, considerably reducing the numbers.

Mac Skelton, a medical sociologist at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimaniyah, said the dismissive attitude was not so much rooted in ignorance as in the realities Iraqis face.

Iraqis have endured so many calamities the past few decades, including wars, political violence and sanctions, that COVID-19 “may not stack up as a major problem,” he said.

Also government pandemic policies, centered on hospitals, don’t mesh with how Iraqis cope with illness, said Skelton. Amid years of instability, Iraqis had to come up with their own strategies, because health care was either not available or they distrusted hospitals, which at the height of sectarian fighting became dangerous places to go to.

So they seek out pharmacists, nurses, help from neighbors, or even cross borders to treat illness. “Most doctors are not that surprised, they know patients would refuse to go to hospital unless they were gasping for air and had no choice,” said Skelton, director of the university’s Institute of Regional and International Studies.

This also suggests Health Ministry statistics, based on tests at government labs, are an undercount, as many Iraqis may forgo testing altogether and opt to recover at home.

Iraq’s centralized health system, largely unchanged since the 1970s, has been ground down by decades of wars, sanctions, and prolonged unrest since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Successive governments have invested little in the sector.

The mingling of virus patients with others has also exacerbated case numbers, doctors said. Shahada’s hospital was once reserved solely for virus patients; but no longer, and COVID-19 patients and others share rooms where CT scans, MRIs and X-rays are taken, Shahada said.

So far, Iraq has not faced shortages in medical supplies or ICU capacity. But that could change if cases soar, doctors said.

The Health Ministry said it plans to begin administering vaccines by the end of March. The government has allocated funds to secure 1.5 million vaccines from Pzifer and signed a contract for 2 million more from AstraZeneca. Little has been announced about how inoculation will proceed.

Now more than ever, government officials worry it will be difficult to change entrenched habits.

As restrictions eased after September, life returned to Iraq. In Baghdad, restaurants are packed and face masks seldom seen. Further south in Basra, residents go about the day as though the pandemic never reached the southern shores, sharing meals in crowded cafes and shaking hands. “Changing public awareness is the only way to stop another lethal virus outbreak,” Health Minister Hasan al-Tamimi told the AP at the sidelines of a recent press conference.–AP


newsdailyFebruary 18, 2021
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4min270

NEW YORK : A massive famine could wipe out a new opportunity, created by renewed U.S. engagement, to end the war in Yemen, top U.N. officials told the Security Council on Thursday.

U.N. Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths also called for a stop to an offensive by the Houthi movement on the government-held city of Marib, warning “the quest for territorial gain by force threatens all of the prospects of the peace process.”

U.S. President Joe Biden has made ending the conflict in Yemen a priority since taking office last month, appointing a special envoy and ending U.S. support for offensive operations by Saudi Arabia in neighboring Yemen.

“International support for ending the conflict is indispensable, and this offers us a new opportunity to reopen space for a negotiated solution,” Griffiths told the 15-member Security Council.

However, U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock then warned: “There’s an important opportunity right now to help Yemen move towards lasting peace .. but that opportunity will disappear, it will be wasted, if Yemen tips into a massive famine.”

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the people in need of help.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis. The more than six-year-long conflict is widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Griffiths visited Tehran this month for the first time since becoming the U.N. envoy three years ago. He made no reference to his visit during his public Security Council statement.

He said the warring parties needed to immediately agree a nationwide ceasefire, allow the unhindered flow of fuel and other commodities into Hodeidah port and permit international commercial traffic to use Sanaa airport. Griffiths said these issues had been discussed regularly for the past year.

“What is needed is simply and fundamentally the political will to end this conflict. We know need a decision,” he said. Lowcock said some $4 billion was needed in 2021 to fund humanitarian operations as “Yemen is speeding towards the worst famine the world has seen in decades.” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Switzerland and Sweden plan to convene a pledging conference on March 1 to raise funds for Yemen.

When famine loomed in 2019, Lowcock said it was averted after the United Nations received about 90 percent of the $4 billion it requested. But last year the world body only received about $1.9 billion, about half of what it needed.

Lowcock said some 16 million people in Yemen were going hungry and 5 million of those people are “just one step away from famine.”

Some 400,000 children under the age of 5 are severely malnourished, he said. “Those children are in their last weeks and months,” he warned. “They are starving to death.”–Reuters


newsdailyNovember 16, 2020
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5min320

The U.S company Moderna, which is working on Covid Vaccine,  said on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be highly effective in a major trial, the second dash of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent virus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide.

The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from Moderna’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

The results are “truly striking,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious diseases expert. Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60% effective.

A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend 1 million of them recorded in just the past week and governors and mayors are ratcheting up restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, over 245,000 of them in the U.S.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press. He added: “It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand.

The National Institutes of Health helped create the vaccine Moderna is manufacturing, and NIH’s director, Dr. Francis Collins, said the exciting news from two companies “gives us a lot of confidence that we’re on the path towards having effective vaccines.”

But “we’re also at this really dark time,” he warned, saying people can’t let down their guard during the months it will take for doses of any vaccines cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to start reaching a large share of the population.

If the FDA allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidate, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year.

Both vaccines require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. U.S. officials said they hope to have about 20 million Moderna doses and another 20 million doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech to use in late December.

Moderna’s vaccine is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real thing or a dummy shot. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded after volunteers’ second dose, and they discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.–AP

 



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