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Race to Produce COVID Vaccine May Cause Measles Jabs Shortage

World Health Organization experts fear the race to produce large quantities of COVID-19 vaccine could cut into the supply of global measles vaccines.
Critical topics relating to immunization globally were discussed during a regular meeting last week by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, known as SAGE. Recommendations were made regarding the status of Ebola vaccines, as well as an oral polio vaccine, and COVID-19 vaccines undergoing evaluation.During this review, SAGE Chair Alejandro Cravioto said the experts raised concerns regarding the situation of vaccinations against measles and rubella.“We are deeply worried that this had been stalled because of the COVID situation and we fear that if this is not properly looked at by each one of the countries that has not been able to vaccinate the children so far, we will be having problems with outbreaks of, especially measles. That is something that worries everybody and that we saw happening in 2019 in the very clearest way,” Cravioto said.Measles surged worldwide in 2019, reaching the highest number since 1996. Nearly 900,000 measles cases were reported, claiming more than 207,000 child lives, most in developing countries.Director of the WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Kate O’Brien said she does not expect shortages of measles vaccine right now. However, she warned that could change because of the intense pressure to increase the manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 vaccine.“As that ramps up, we have to continue watching this really carefully. We are starting to see the supply chains start to shrink to some degree so that the amount of vaccine in the supply chain is narrowing. But we do not see in those analyses that that would lead to shortages anywhere at this point. But a very important area to continue watching carefully,” O’Brien said.On another matter, two Chinese manufacturers of Sinopharm and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine products, for the first time presented SAGE with interim data for review.The experts are evaluating the efficacy and safety of those vaccines.They say the WHO also will analyze the information for Emergency Use Listing. If the WHO approves the vaccines, SAGE says it would likely recommend their use as part of the growing arsenal of vaccine products already in worldwide use. 

Політика Столиця Шляхта

У ЮНЕСКО засудили «системну репресивну політику» Росії в Криму – МЗС України

Також в заяві держави-члени ЮНЕСКО закликали Росію гарантувати безперешкодний доступ міжнародних механізмів у сфері захисту прав людини на територію Криму

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CDC: COVID-19 Third Largest Cause of US Deaths in 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States during 2020, and it boosted the overall U.S. death toll by nearly 16% from the previous year.During the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters the pandemic trailed only heart disease and cancer last year, accounting for about 378,000 fatalities, or 11% of all deaths in the country last year.Walensky said COVID-19 deaths were highest among Hispanic people, and deaths among ethnic and racial minority groups were more than double the death rate of non-Hispanic white people.Elsewhere Wednesday, European Medicines Agency (EMA) Executive Director Emer Cooke said the organization has found no scientific evidence to support restrictions on using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.She told a virtual news conference from the drug regulator’s headquarters in Denmark that they stand by the statement they made nearly two weeks ago that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any risks.The comments come a day after Germany announced it was limiting the vaccine to people 60 years of age and older due to concerns that it may be causing blood clots.Federal and state health authorities cited nearly three dozen cases of blood clots known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in its decision Tuesday, including nine deaths.  The country’s medical regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said all but two of the cases involved women between the ages of 20 and 63.Canada, France and Spain have made similar decisions regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine.  

Політика Столиця Шляхта

Голова Об’єднаного комітету начальників штабів США обговорив із Хомчаком «безпекове середовище у Східній Європі»

Також 31 березня міністр закордонних справ України Дмитро Кулеба мав розмову з державним секретарем США Ентоні Блінкеном, керівники зовнішньополітичних відомств обговорили «системне загострення Росією безпекової ситуації на сході України та в Криму»

Політика Столиця Шляхта

Кулеба повідомив про розмову з держсекретарем США

Раніше цього тижня головнокомандувач Збройних сил України Руслан Хомчак повідомив, що Росія додатково перекинула до східного кордону країни близько чотирьох тисяч військових

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As COVID-19 Epicenter, South Africa to Receive 41 Million Vaccine Doses

The coronavirus vaccine is coming, with South Africa expecting to conclude negotiations in upcoming weeks to vaccinate 41 million people, and the next stage of vaccinations to begin in May, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced late Tuesday.    In addition to 31 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, President Ramaphosa said the nation is finalizing an agreement for 20 million doses of the two-shot Pfizer vaccine. He did not say precisely when that vaccine would arrive.
South Africa is the continent’s COVID-19 epicenter. In the last year, the nation has seen 1.5 million known cases, and more than 52,000 deaths. But the nation appears to be holding firm in the face of a possible third wave, with a “stable” level of about 1,200 new cases per day and declining hospitalizations and deaths.   FILE – An ambulance is parked near tents erected at the parking lot of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Pretoria, South Africa, Jan. 11, 2021.And, Ramaphosa said, more vaccine — from China and Russia — may also be on the way.    “We are also in various stages of negotiations with the manufacturers of other vaccines such as Sinovac, Sinopharm and Sputnik V,” he said. “Some of these manufacturers are in the final stages of the approval process for use of their vaccines in South Africa. In addition to vaccine doses we will receive directly through our agreements with manufacturers, we will also receive an allocation of vaccine doses through the African Union initiative that we established when we held the chair[man]ship of the African Union.” The welcome news comes with a bit of a sting. This year’s Easter holiday, usually a season for gatherings and celebration in this majority-Christian nation, will be a little … drier this year. “Given the role of alcohol in fueling reckless behavior, we will put in place some restrictions over the Easter weekend,” he said, adding that bars and restaurants could continue to sell alcohol on those days. “To this end, the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited this coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Just those four days.”   But, Ramaphosa soberly reminded his people, the religious holidays — for Christians, Jews and Muslims — are really a time for hope, rebirth and renewal.  And in these difficult times, he added, caution.   

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Russia Registers Vaccine to Protect Animals from COVID-19

Russia says it registered the world’s first vaccine for animals against the COVID-19 virus on Wednesday — with government officials hailing an inoculation labeled ‘Carnivac-Cov’ as a victory in the global race to protect both animals and humans from further mutations of the coronavirus.“The clinical trials of Carnivac-Cov, which started last October, involved dogs, cats, Arctic foxes, minks, foxes and other animals,” said  Konstantin Savenkov, Deputy Head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s agricultural watchdog agency, in a statement announcing the vaccine.“The results allow us to conclude that the vaccine is harmless and provides high immunity, in such as the animals who were tested developed antibodies to the coronavirus in 100% of cases,” added Savenkov.Savenkov added that the shot currently provided immunity of up to 6 months — and could be in production in the coming weeks.The Russian announcement came just a day after the World Health Organization issued a report exploring the origins of COVID-19 in China.  The WHO study offered no firm conclusions but suggested the most likely source lay in animals — specifically, a bat.The U.S. has expressed reservations about what some US officials believe are the Chinese government’s efforts to skew the report’s findings.Studies have repeatedly documented select cases of COVID-19 infecting both domesticated and captive animals around the globe — including common household pets such as cats and dogs, as well as farmed mink and several animals in zoos.Mutation fearsScientists have raised concerns that the virus could subsequently mutate to other host animals — and eventually circulate back to humans.Last November, Denmark ordered the mass extermination of 15 million mink after a mutated variation of COVID-19 was discovered on more than 200 farms in the region.Danish officials noted the measure was grim necessity after a dozen people were found have been infected by a mutated COVID-19 strain.Rosselkhoznadzor’s Savenkov said the new Russian vaccine was intended primarily to protect household pets and farmed captive animals important to the global economy — as well as the humans in contact with them.“People and animals we live together on one planet and both are in contact with a great number of infections,” said Tatiana Galkina, a lead researcher behind Carnivac-Cov in a promotional video released to Youtube.“Of course in the future, we’re not insured against new viral infections. Therefore science should keep advancing and be a step ahead,” added Galkina, while petting a purring cat.Another video released to social media shows officials administering the vaccine to a plump white mink at a Russian fur farm.В России зарегистрировали первую в мире вакцину для животных от коронавируса
Препарат получил название «Карнивак-Ков». Клинические испытания препарата провели на кошках, собаках, песцах, норках, и лисах. В Россельхознадзоре даже показали, как прививают на примере норок
— ФедералПресс (@FederalPress) March 31, 2021While the inoculation will face further peer review, Carnivac-Cov appears the latest example of Russia’s flexing its scientific muscle in the global race against the coronavirus pandemic.Last August, President Vladimir Putin claimed his nation was first to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 for humans with its Sputnik V inoculation. The announcement faced heavy skepticism for claiming a Russian victory before standard third phase trials had even begun.Subsequent international reviews later showed the Russian vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 90%.

Столиця Шляхта

До 80 км/год не буде: у Києві не підвищуватимуть з 1 квітня швидкість руху на низці вулиць

Від ідеї підвищити швидкість руху на окремих вулицях у столиці до 1 листопада відмовились через високий рівень аварійності та тяжкості наслідків ДТП

Політика Столиця Шляхта

Зеленський підписав указ про основні показники оборонного замовлення на 2021-2023 роки

Згідно з рішенням РНБО, уряд має забезпечити доопрацювання основних показників держоборонзамовлення з урахуванням результатів їхнього обговорення та затвердити їх у двотижневий строк

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Forest Losses Increased Again in 2020

The world lost a Netherlands-sized area of mature tropical forests in 2020, the second year in a row of worsening losses, according to the latest figures from the research and advocacy organization the World Resources Institute (WRI). The losses are helping drive climate change and also being driven by it, as hot, dry conditions contribute to forest losses in several parts of the world. Some bright spots emerged. The rate of forest loss decreased in Indonesia and Malaysia for the fourth consecutive year.  But overall, the 4.2 million hectare loss of primary, undisturbed forest was a 12% increase over 2019.  “Those dense forests can be hundreds of years old and store significant amounts of carbon,” said Rod Taylor, head of WRI’s forest program. “Losing them has irreversible impacts on biodiversity and climate change.” While experts had raised concerns that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could contribute to forest losses by reducing environmental enforcement and driving more people to subsistence farming, Taylor said there were no obvious trends in the data.  The impacts may come later, however. “Unless we offer alternatives, it’s likely that governments will try to restart their economies on the backs of forests,” said WRI Distinguished Senior Fellow Frances Seymour.  Forest declines The tropics lost a total of 12.2 million hectares of primary and secondary regrown forest in 2020, WRI’s data said. The losses released the equivalent of the annual emissions from 570 million cars, more than twice the number on the road in the United States. Brazil saw the largest decline. The 1.7 million hectares lost was a 25% increase from the previous year and more than three times the next-highest country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Bolivia was third. As in Brazil, much of the loss was due to fires set to clear land for agriculture, but which burned out of control due to hot, dry conditions.  In a rare bit of good news, Indonesia slowed its rate of loss by 17% in 2020, dropping out of third place and into fourth for the first time in the 20 years that WRI has been keeping records.Wooden houses are pictured as smoke from forest fires envelops trees near Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan province, Indonesia, March 21, 2021.Wetter weather and lower prices for palm oil, the commodity driving deforestation, likely played a role. But following devastating fires in 2015, the government also put measures in place that are contributing, experts say. Those include fire monitoring and prevention, restrictions on new palm oil plantations and agrarian reforms aimed at alleviating poverty.  Palm oil prices have rebounded, which may put pressure on the industry to expand again, said Sustainable Commodities and Business Manager Andika Putraditama in WRI’s Indonesia office. “The next two to three years would be the real test if Indonesia can maintain its performance in reducing deforestation,” he said. Climate change, cause and effect While deforestation is a leading contributor to climate change, “the most ominous signal from the 2020 data is the number and variety of instances where forests themselves have fallen victim to climate change,” Seymour said. Hot, dry weather in 2019 and 2020 drove bark beetle damage in Germany and the Czech Republic, tripling forest losses compared to 2018. Extreme heat and drought drove Australia’s devastating fires in 2019 and 2020. Tree cover loss increased nine-fold between 2018 and 2020. Climate change is likely to make these conditions more common.  An abnormally hot spring and summer in Russia led to fires in Siberia’s forests, and in peatlands that are normally frozen.   “Nature has been whispering this risk to us for a long time. But now she is shouting,” Seymour said. “We’re getting into a vicious cycle,” she added. “Climate change and forest degradation combine to make the forests that remain warmer, drier and more vulnerable to fire and pest infestations, which in turn releases more carbon when those forests burn and decay.”  The longer it takes to stop deforestation and cut greenhouse gas emissions, Seymour said, “the more likely it is that our natural carbon sinks will go up in smoke.” 

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US, 13 Other Nations Concerned About WHO COVID Origins Report

The United States and 13 other nations issued a statement Tuesday raising “shared concerns” about the newly released World Health Organization report on the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19.
The statement, released on the U.S. State Department website, as well as the other signatories, said it was essential to express concerns that the international expert study on the source of the virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples.
The WHO formally released its report earlier Tuesday, saying while the report presents a comprehensive review of available data, “we have not yet found the source of the virus.”  The team reported difficulties in accessing raw data, among other issues, during its visit to the city of Wuhan, China, earlier this year.
The researchers also had been forced to wait days before receiving final permission by the Chinese government to enter Wuhan.
The joint statement by the U.S. and others went on to say, “scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings.”  The nations expressed their concerns in the hope of laying “a pathway to a timely, transparent, evidence-based process for the next phase of this study as well as for the next health crises.”
Along with the U.S., the statement was signed by the governments of Australia, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and Slovenia.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday further study and more data are needed to confirm if the virus was spread to humans through the food chain or through wild or farmed animals.  
Tedros said that while the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, the matter requires further investigation.
WHO team leader Peter Ben Embarek told reporters Tuesday that it is “perfectly possible” COVID-19 cases were circulating as far back as November or October 2019 around Wuhan, earlier than has been documented regarding the spread of the virus.

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COVID Pandemic Has Big Effect in Small Nation of eSwatini   

Eddie Simelane is a patient.  Every two months, this 46-year-old, HIV-positive father of four wakes up early to line up at a government clinic near eSwatini’s capital for his supply of free anti-retroviral medication.      The emaSwati are no strangers to pandemics. This small nation, formerly known as Swaziland, has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates, estimated at over 27%.  But it’s not that pandemic that scares him, Simelane says. It’s coronavirus. He says he’s lucky to have not fallen ill, but says it’s thrown his life into disarray.     “Here in eSwatini, COVID-19 has taken many lives that I’ve heard of,” he said outside a clinic on a foggy morning last week. “And the difficult part of it is the economy. The economy has been down and there’s been no jobs for everybody for something like a year now.”   He’s not exaggerating the effect of this pandemic — in a nation that is smaller than all but three U.S. states, everything feels like it hits closer to home. While eSwatini has only reported some 17,000 cases, and just under 670 deaths, its small size makes each loss seem much bigger.    eSwatini, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control, has seen 1,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people — and 55 deaths per 100,000 people. But the population is just over a million people.     According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, eSwatini’s COVID-19 mortality rate stands at 3.9%. That’s more than twice the U.S. death rate, of 1.8%, and also higher than the death rate in the continent’s epicenter — and eSwatini’s biggest neighbor — South Africa, which is 3.4%.     And it has affected lives at all levels of society. Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku fell into this job because Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini died of COVID-19 in December.     He said the past year has been tough.     “It’s something that we had never seen before, we had never experienced before,” he said. “So, when it started, we tried to manage it. The first wave, I think we fairly managed that, but the second wave, which was brutal, this is when we felt overwhelmed. But it taught us certain things that we have now put in place so that if the next, the anticipated — which I really don’t want — the third wave, we think we will be more prepared than the first and second waves because we didn’t have the experience.”      But health minister Lizzy Nkosi says their records found that HIV-positive COVID-19 patients did not fare as badly as they had feared.     “What we’ve learned — not just us, but across the world — is that HIV turned out not to be such a major factor,” she said. “It is a factor, but in terms of the people that get severely ill and the people that we’ve lost — I mean, from our death audit that we did recently, we found that 82% of the people that have died have had comorbidities, and about 80% of those had either diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and the combination of those.”     She said the nation is starting to vaccinate health workers and will soon expand the vaccination plan. That is cold comfort for Simelane. He is a careful man, he says — he faithfully takes his medication and takes meticulous care of his possessions, mending a small rip in his red backpack with a row of neat stitches.     But, like people across the globe, he says he struggles with COVID-19 anxiety.    “I’m worried, because I actually don’t know how you contract the virus,” he said. “That is what worries me the most. Because you can say that you have protected yourself with masks and everything, only to find out at the end of the day that you caught COVID, not knowing how.”