S.Africa president blasts vaccine hoarding at Davos forum

PRETORIA, South Africa (AFP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday lashed “vaccine nationalism,” accusing rich countries of bulk-buying coronavirus vaccines and hoarding them to the detriment of others. Addressing the all-virtual 2021 World Economic Forum (WEF), Ramaphosa said low- and middle-income countries were being shouldered aside by wealthier nations able to acquire “up to four times what their population needs”. “We are concerned about vaccine nationalism,” he warned. “Rich countries in the world are […]

Air pollution linked to irreversible sight loss: study

  PARIS, France (AFP) — Air pollution is likely to increase the risk of irreversible sight loss, according to the results of a long-term study published Tuesday. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among over-50s in richer nations, with roughly 300 million people predicted to be affected by 2040. Known risk factors include age, smoking and genetic make-up. Now researchers have drawn a link between AMD and air pollution, which is […]

World lost equivalent of 255 million jobs in 2020: UN

  by Nina LARSON Agence France Presse The coronavirus pandemic took a huge toll on global jobs last year, the United Nations said Monday, with the equivalent of more than a quarter of a billion lost. In a fresh study, the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) found that a full 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. That is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, […]

480,000 killed by extreme weather this century: analysis

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse Almost half a million people have died in natural disasters linked to extreme weather events in the last 20 years, according to a new assessment of the direct threat posed to humanity by climate change. The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries. At the start of the Climate Adaptation Summit, held virtually this year due to the pandemic, […]

Czech trainers teach dogs to sniff out Covid

by Jan FLEMR Agence France Presse In a dog training centre built inside a shipping container located in a Czech mountain village, Renda, Cap and Laky are being put to the test. They sniff at six vessels, each containing a piece of cloth with scent from patients with Covid-19, negative donors, or fake samples. “Good boy!” exclaims Lenka Vlachova, a trainer working at Prague’s fire brigade, as jagdterrier Renda sits down by one sample, wagging […]

No Europe deaths directly tied to Covid vaccines: experts

  by Julie CHARPENTRAT with AFP bureaus in Europe Agence France Presse PARIS France (AFP) — Despite dozens of deaths of people shortly after they were vaccinated against coronavirus, scientists say the evidence available so far does not incriminate the new anti-Covid vaccines. Health agencies stress however that the vast majority of post-vaccination fatalities were elderly, already vulnerable and often sick. Here’s a review of the situation: – Elderly, vulnerable – Norway sparked alarm last […]

Canadian study says oral medicine effective in treating Covid-19

MONTREAL, Canada (AFP) — A major clinical trial shows that an inflammatory drug called colchicine is effective in treating Covid-19 and reduces the risk of complications from the disease, doctors in Canada said. The results of the study are a “major scientific discovery” and make colchicine — a medicine used to treat gout — “the world’s first oral drug that could be used to treat non-hospitalized patients with Covid-19,” the Montreal Heart Institute said in […]

Iconic TV and radio interviewer Larry King dead at 87

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — TThe iconic talk show host Larry King, one of the most recognizable figures on US television as he interviewed everyone who was anyone over a career spanning 60 years, died Saturday at the age of 87. The company he co-founded, Ora Media, did not state a cause of death but media reports said King had been battling Covid-19 for weeks and had suffered several health problems in recent years. […]

Inside the world’s biggest vaccine factory, India’s Serum Institute

by Ammu KANNAMPILLY Agence France Presse PUNE, India (AFP) — The tiny clinking vials supervised by silent PPE-wearing technicians belie the excitement inside the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, a major player in the fight against coronavirus. The firm, founded in 1966 in the western city of Pune, is producing millions of doses of the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, for India and much of the developing world. […]

Pfizer offers 40 mn Covid shots to poorer countries at cost

by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Pfizer announced Friday that it will provide up to 40 million of its Covid-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries on a non-profit basis, through the globally-pooled Covax facility. While dozens of the world’s richer countries have begun their vaccination campaigns in a bid to curb the pandemic, coronavirus jabs have been few and far between in the world’s poorer nations. Covax — the globally-pooled coronavirus […]

WHO seeks review of reports on deaths in frail, elderly people who got Pfizer vaccine

(Eagle News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking a review of the reports on deaths in frail elderly individuals who had received the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement on Friday, Jan. 22, WHO said that the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) has already met early this week for the review. The GACVS is a group of experts that provides independent and authoritative guidance to WHO on the matter of […]

In tracking virus mutations, most countries flying blind

  by Kelly MACNAMARA Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — To monitor changes to the coronavirus that could supercharge the pandemic or render vaccines less effective, scientists must sequence its genetic code to catalogue potentially dangerous mutations as they emerge. But so few countries are conducting and sharing surveillance that experts are as worried about the mutations they cannot see as those they can. Publication of the first genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 in January […]