UN seeks $76 million in emergency aid for Madagascar

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The United Nations said Tuesday that $76 million was urgently needed to help over one million people in southern Madagascar facing potentially life-threating shortages of food, water and health assistance. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA issued its so-called flash appeal after the impoverished island country in eastern Africa saw its agricultural season ruined by the worst drought in a decade. At the same time, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic […]

Immune system ‘remembers’ coronavirus for at least 6 months: study

by Kelly MACNAMARA PARIS, France (AFP) — People may be able to fight off reinfection for at least six months after they recover from Covid-19 thanks to cells that can “remember” the virus, according to research published Monday. Researchers in the United States and Switzerland studied dozens of people who had recovered from Covid-19 and found that while their antibodies may fade over time, they maintained levels of specific memory B cells. These cells can […]

World facing ‘catastrophic’ moral failure on vaccines: WHO chief

  GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The world is on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure” if rich countries hog Covid-19 vaccine doses while the poorest suffer, the head of the WHO said Monday. World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denounced the “me-first” attitude of wealthy nations and also blasted vaccine manufacturers for chasing regulatory approval in rich countries rather than submitting their data to the WHO to green-light vaccine use globally. He said […]

World migration down 30 percent due to pandemic: UN

  UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The coronavirus pandemic has slowed global migration by nearly 30 percent, with around two million fewer migrants between 2019 and 2020, according to a UN report released on Friday. Some 281 million people were living outside their country of origin in 2020. The report, entitled “International Migration 2020,” showed that two-thirds of registered migrants lived in just 20 countries, with the United States at the top of the list, with […]

WHO meeting urges increased virus sequencing to combat variants

by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization’s emergency committee called Friday for globally-ramped up coronavirus sequencing studies in order to combat troubling new variants stalking the globe. The meeting was dragged forward by two weeks for urgent talks on the emerging, seemingly more contagious strains of the virus, as the death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic topped two million, according to an AFP count. The emergency committee came […]

More than 2 million COVID-19 deaths worldwide as cases top 93.5 million — Johns Hopkins data

  (Eagle News) — The total number of COVID-19 deaths worldwide surpassed two million as global confirmed cases reached 93.5 million, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. As of 3 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, Philippine Standard Time, the total confirmed coronavirus deaths around the world have reached 2,003,625 while COVID-19 cases reached 93,580,828. This comes amid rising number of COVID-19 virus mutations that are more infectious than previous strains, prompting the World Health […]

Climate change worsens child malnutrition: study

by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Climate change may contribute more to greater child malnutrition and poor diet than traditional causes such as poverty and poor sanitation, according to research published on Thursday. Although childhood malnutrition has decreased globally over the past several decades, undernourishment has increased since 2015, in part due to warming temperatures and extreme weather. The United Nations says 144 million children under five were affected by stunting in […]

New virus mutation raises vaccine questions

by Paul RICARD PARIS, France (AFP) — As the British coronavirus variant occupies countries’ pandemic plans due to its increased transmissibility, other mutations to the Sars-CoV-2 are provoking concern among scientists who are scrambling to work out if they will still respond to vaccines. In particular, one mutation, known as E484K, detected initially in South Africa and on subsequent variants in Brazil and Japan, has raised alarm among researchers. Ravi Gupta, professor of microbiology at […]

British virus variant now in 50 countries, while South African strain found in 20 countries: WHO

by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The coronavirus mutation first found in Britain has now spread to 50 territories, according to the World Health Organization, while a similar South African-identified strain has now been found in 20. The UN body also noted a third new coronavirus “variant of concern” found in Japan may impact upon immune response and needs further investigation. “The more the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads, the more opportunities it […]

Indonesia okays emergency use of Sinovac, as Turkey announces start of vaccination this week

  (Eagle News) — Indonesia has given emergency use approval to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac BioTech Ltd., and is set to start vaccination using the vaccines. As this developed, Turkey also announced that it would start vaccination using the Chinese-made vaccine by Thursday or Friday. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself announced the start of the vaccination in Turkey In Indonesia, the Jakarta Post reported that no less than Indonesian President Joko Widodo […]

Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine 78% effective in final stage clinical trials in Brazil, says officials

  SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac showed at least 78-percent effectiveness in final-stage clinical trials in Brazil, officials announced Thursday, saying they would apply for emergency approval from the Brazilian regulatory agency to begin a vaccination campaign. “This is a historic day, a day of hope,” Sao Paulo state Governor Joao Doria told a news conference announcing the results. He said his state’s vaccination campaign would begin on January 25, though […]

Top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia launches car-free city

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, announced Sunday the launch of an eco-city “with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions” at its futuristic NEOM mega development. The $500 billion NEOM project, set to be built from scratch along the kingdom’s picturesque Red Sea coast, is billed as a development evocative of a sci-fi blockbuster. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a city, dubbed “THE LINE”, in […]