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WFP’s Beasley Promotes ‘Hunger Ward’ Documentary on Malnutrition in Yemen

WFP’s Beasley Promotes ‘Hunger Ward’ Documentary on Malnutrition in Yemen

April 9 (EIRNS)—A new documentary was released online today on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, titled “Hunger Ward,” after which release World Food Program Director David Beasley and filmmaker Skye Fitzgerald, held a live discussion (see hungerward.org).

The new half-hour film focuses on the terrible plight and death rate of malnourished children in Yemen, featuring coverage at the Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, the nation’s largest hospital; and the Aslan Clinic, the largest malnutrition treatment center in northern Yemen. The scenes and the words of the medical directors—Dr. Aida Alsdeeq in Aden and Nurse Mekkiah Mahdi at the Aslan Clinic—are gripping. The film also shows the sad horror of the wreckage of a Saudi missile strike against a funeral gathering in Yemen, with shoes of dozens of the dead still scattered in the rubble of the ruins. The postscript states simply that Saudi Arabia, with U.S. backing is still making war on Yemen, and that France, Germany, other nations, and the Houthis are complicit.

Beasley has given this documentary advance publicity to mobilize world attention on the growing famine in Yemen and internationally, which he spoke about on April 7 in a virtual forum at the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. Speaking to a student audience, Beasley repeatedly stressed that the warfare must stop, and famine is “man-made.” He said that in the next ten days, he will visit Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and if possible, Venezuela, because of the worsening food situations here.

Beasley gave the Delaware students a status report on world hunger today, and how it is increasing. He said that when he came into office in 2017, there were 700 million hungry globally, and 80 million on the brink of starvation. That number on the brink increased to 135 million just before COVID-19 began. Today, that number is 270 million. Out of this number, 34 million are nearing the point of starvation. He called it phase 3 to 4 (on the UN scale called IPC—Integrated Phase Classification: No. 1, real, but minimal food insecurity; 2, stressed; 3, crisis; 4, emergency; 5, famine).

Beasley went into a “breakdown by country,” according to the IPC scale. This includes, for example, 19-21 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Phase 4; and 19 million in Afghanistan at Phase 3 to 4. “Syria is imploding”; Haiti is in crisis, he said.

Beasley called for $5 billion for world anti-famine work, on top of the ongoing anti-hunger funding. “We have a vaccine for starvation … it’s called food,” he stressed. In the Q&A, when one student asked about nutritious food, Beasley said, in essence, that, of course, that is necessary, but he explained to the young questioners the fact that “food for survival” is now the issue before us. He declared that the WFP budget was covered at $5.9 billion in 2017, then in 2020 rose to $8.9 billion, but said that is not enough. This year it needs to be in the $15 billion range. He recognized that the U.S. increased its contribution to the WFP from $1.9 billion four years ago, up to $3.47 billion. He identified that while Washington is typically “fighting over everything, with rinky-dink concerns,” there has been a bipartisan agreement on food aid. He scored the billionaires who watch the deaths happen: “I get upset … in 2020 a new billionaire was created every 17 hours.” There were 493 new billionaires created last year. “And all I need is $5 billion.”


China, Cuba Collaborate To Create a New, More Complex ‘Pan Corona’ Vaccine

China and Cuba Collaborate To Create a New, More Complex ‘Pan Corona’ Vaccine

April 7 (EIRNS)—Cuba’s Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Center (CIBG) is collaborating with China’s Joint Biotechnology Innovation Center based in Yongzhou, Hunan province, to produce a new vaccine, named Pan-Corona, to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus, CubaDebate (against Media Terrorism) news site reported April 6. The vaccine being developed is described as a broad-spectrum one that would be effective against many different strains of the virus. CIBG’s director of biomedical sciences Dr. Gerardo Guillén explained that while the new vaccines shouldn’t be considered a “super vaccine,” it is definitely more complex than existing ones “because it’s more difficult to protect against different strains of the coronavirus which are not yet known,” Xinhua reported him as saying March 26.

China and Cuba have collaborated for two decades and have established five joint biotechnology companies. With China, Dr. Guillén told Xinhua, “we have scientific capabilities, equipment, logistics and resources, all based on the magnificent relations of friendship and hard work which really makes scientific development possible.” Cuba brings to bear its own advanced biomedical and biotechnological capabilities developed over decades, born out of necessity because of the economic blockade opposed on the country in 1962 which often made acquisition of medical supplies and equipment impossible. Also of interest is CubaDebate’s report that for 26 years, Cuba has received 10 gold medals from the World Intellectual Property Organization, as it has exported its biomedical products to 49 countries.

With five coronavirus vaccines in development, two of which, Soberana 2 and Abdala, are in Phase 3 clinical trials, Cuba is already planning to make them available to developing countries that cannot afford the prices charged by large pharmaceutical companies. Outside of Cuba, volunteers in Iran and Venezuela are participating in Soberana 2’s clinical trials, but other countries—Mexico, Argentina, Vietnam, Pakistan, India and the African Union (representing 55 countries)—have already expressed interest in acquiring the Soberana 2 and the other Cuban vaccines once trials are concluded. Cuba sets variable prices on its vaccines, depending on individual countries’ ability to pay.


Dr. Osterholm: Coronavirus a “Category 5 Hurricane Status” Globally

Dr. Osterholm: Coronavirus Has a “Category 5 Hurricane Status” Globally

April 5 (EIRNS)–Speaking on Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press April 4, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, an adviser to President Biden on the COVID-19 pandemic, made the obvious point in terms of the global nature of the coronavirus pandemic and warned that people had better pay attention. Overall, he said, “we’re in a category 5 hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world. We’ll see in the next two weeks the highest number of cases reported globally, since the beginning of the pandemic. As for the United States, we’re just at the beginning of the surge.” Osterholm, who runs the Minnesota-based Center for Infectious Disease and Research Policy (CIDRAP), said he agreed with the remarks made last week by Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to the effect that the situation in the United States was not at all under control–she reported she felt a sense of “impending doom”–adding that Americans weren’t being realistic about the spike in new cases nationwide. Moreover, he warned, that spike was being driven by the COVID variant B.1.1.7, the British strain.

Dr. Osterholm elaborated: “We are the only country in the world right now experiencing this increasing number of cases due to this variant, and at the same time opening up, not closing down. The two basically are going to collide, and we are going to see substantially increased numbers of cases.” He especially warned that the variant is now hitting children much harder than previous strains. “It infects kids very readily.” More broadly, he pointed to reports of surging cases around the country, especially in the Upper Midwest where “they’re just beginning to start the fourth surge.” Look at what happened on April 3 in Michigan where there were a record number of 8,400 cases in one day. “That should have been a wakeup call to everyone.” It’s also the case, he pointed out, that there are more people between the ages of 30 and 50 who are being hospitalized and seen in ICUs

Other states with similar reports of increased cases include Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, head of Ohio’s Health Department, warned that “Ohio remains in a race against a virus that is now more contagious and right back on our heels.”


Video of Doctor Susan Moore While Dying from Mistreatment

March 30, 2021 –During the Q & A session of Panel 4: “The Challenge of Famine and Pandemics — The Coincidence of Opposites or Mass Extinction?” at the the recent Schiller Institute conference, there was an extensive discussion of triage and the treatment of poor and non-white patients, which have been exacerbated under conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Shirley Evers-Manly, who had described the mounting cases of mistreatment and triage taking place in hospitals and elsewhere in the US against poor and minority patients during this pandemic, subsequently referenced the following video made by a black medical doctor, Dr. Susan Moore, in an Indiana hospital. Suffering from Covid-19, Dr. Moore describes how she was denied medicine, and told to go home despite being severely ill — even that she was to be sent home at night. Dr. Moore makes a passionate appeal, not simply for herself but for all those who “don’t know how to fight for themselves.” Dr. Moore died a few days after making this video. Twitter coverage and video.

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Media Starts Catching on to Biden’s Ridiculous Vaccine Hoarding

Mar. 29 (EIRNS)–For two months, the Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine policy has been to grab as many vaccines as possible and turn away any and all requests for help. Then in March, various statements, either from President Biden or his White House spokesperson, Jen Psaki, made clear that America would consider requests after every American is taken care of. It’s been left unclear whether that’s every adult who would roll up their sleeve (around 200 million) or, literally, every American (330 million) or somewhere in between. However, this last week has seen several articles beginning to question the ugly and counterproductive stance. One can pretend that viruses don’t mutate and create new strains that will outflank one’s vaccines, but it is a silly conceit.
            One of them, for example, an Axios’s article by Dave Lawler, used vaccine production figures from Airfinity, and compared production vs. export of vaccines: the United States produced 27% of the world’s vaccines and exported 0% of their production; China, 33% and 62% of that exported. (With this week’s plan to ship 4 million doses to Mexico and Canada, the U.S. climbs to about 1.5%.) India and Russia also had significant export figures. Biden’s prime tool has been to invoke the Defense Production Act to keep our ammunition away from allies and foe alike. One European diplomat expressed surprise that there was so little domestic opposition to Biden’s ‘Americans first’ approach. Krishna Udayakumar, director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, summed it up: “The question really is, what is the threshold that’s going to satisfy the administration enough to allow the exporting of those doses?”


Brazil COVID Crisis Careens Out of Control

Brazil COVID Crisis Careens Out of Control

March 28 (EIRNS) – Numerous Brazilian medical and other authorities are sounding the alarm that the COVID pandemic in Brazil is careening out of the control, threatening not only the country but the entire planet. At present, one in every four COVID deaths worldwide is occurring in Brazil. “Before, the risk factor to dying from Covid-19 was being older, having some co-morbidity,” said Domingos Alves, a professor of medicine who’s part of a national monitoring group. “Now, the risk is being Brazilian,” Bloomberg reported.

The mortality rate in Brazil has risen from 2% at the end of last year to 3.1% in mid March, according to Fiocruz, one of the country’s leading R&D centers in epidemiology. That is more than a 50% increase in less than three months. Only 7% of the population have received a vaccine shot; 2% are fully vaccinated. More than 300,000 Brazilians have died of Covid to date; some experts expect the half-million mark to be hit by June, and for Brazil to surpass the U.S. in deaths by the end of the year – a grim achievement.

An alarming new trend is a sharp rise in the number and proportion of younger Brazilians who are getting sick and dying from Covid – this in a country that is largely young. According to official statistics, from Jan. 1 to mid March the rate of new cases among those aged 30 to 59 rose by nearly twice the national average of 316%. Deaths in those age groups jumped by at least 317%, compared with 223% for Brazil as a whole.

Scientists are still trying to figure out why that is happening. One theory is that younger patients wait longer to seek health care and are sicker when they arrive at the hospital. Another factor may relate to the new variants appearing in Brazil. Bloomberg cited Jaques Sztajnbok, who helps run the ICU at Sao Paulo’s Emílio Ribas hospital, one of Brazil’s main facilities for infectious diseases, saying that patients are largely getting sick with the variant that first appeared in the Amazonian city of Manaus or the U.K. one, both of which are more contagious than the original strain.

“Fernando Brum, a director at Sorocaba’s Santa Casa hospital [near Sao Paulo], said the mutation of the virus into a much more contagious version with a viral load that makes people sick in a faster and more aggressive way has meant young people have gone from mostly asymptomatic cases to being gravely affected… `The intensive care unit is constantly and uninterruptedly occupied,’ he [Brum] said. Patients in their 30s make up at least half of those beds, and their average time spent in the hospital has tripled from last year. It has come down recently for a grim reason — patients are dying more quickly.”

The country’s health system is on the brink of total collapse. Miguel Nicolelis, professor of Neurobiology at Duke University who advised several Brazilian governors and mayors on pandemic control, told AP: “We have surpassed levels never imagined for a country with a public health care system, a history of efficient immunization campaigns and health workers who are second to none in the world. The next stage is the health system collapse.”

Brazil’s state-run science and technology institute, Fiocruz, on Tuesday called for a 14-day lockdown to reduce transmission by 40%. “We need to open our eyes and understand this is no joke,” Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes said in a recorded message on the eve of a 10-day shutdown in that city. “People are dying and, if everything continues as is, nothing is done, God only knows what could happen. No one knows this disease’s limit. No one knows how many variants could emerge.”


COVID-19: Brazil Now “Threat to Global Public Health”

“Brazil Now Represents a Threat to Global Public Health”: Brazilian Epidemiologist

March 25 (EIRNS) — Dr. Pedro Hallal, an epidemiologist and Dean at the Federal University of Pelotas in southern Brazil, stated that “Brazil now represents a threat to global public health” that must be urgently addressed by international action. Hallal is the coordinator of Epicovid-19, the largest epidemiological study into the coronavirus in Brazil. Hallal stated that the pandemic is out of control in Brazil, which is now a breeding ground for dangerous new variants. “The virus is circulating so widely in Brazil that it is possible, and I would say likely, that new variants will appear in the near future. We need to stop that urgently,” he said.

Hallal called for an international task force to address the crisis, since the policies of the Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro have brought the country to the brink of collapse. If not, “global efforts to control COVID-19 will be jeopardized,” he said.

An open letter from hundreds of leading financial figures in Brazil, including former ministers and five former presidents of Brazil’s Central Bank, also slammed Bolsonaro’s COVID policy and demanded urgent change. Without ever mentioning Bolsonaro by name, the letter is clear, attacking Brazil’s “top political leadership” which displays “a disdain for science, looks to remedies without evidence of their effectiveness, encourages crowds, and flirts with the anti-vax movement.” They demand a nationally coordinated policy of social distancing, including a national lockdown if necessary.

Bolsonaro is feeling the heat, and has reluctantly agreed to meet with Brazil’s governors – who universally oppose his do-nothing policy and have tried to impose state-by-state measures – and has even promised to start a serious vaccination campaign (so far, less than 7% of Brazilians have had one dose of a vaccine). In over half of the country’s 26 states, the rate of occupancy in ICUs tops 90%. Last Tuesday, daily deaths in the country topped 3,000 for the first time, with 3,251 deaths recorded. Brazil now accounts for one out of every four deaths worldwide from COVID. The biomedical research institution Fiocruz, a week ago reported that Brazil’s public health systems are “living through the worst collapse in history.”

“The situation is very, very concerning,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization. “Brazil has to take it seriously.” Dr. Hallal stated: “If we do not have enough vaccines in the next 30 to 45 days, the situation will be terrible — not only for Brazil, but for the rest of the world.”


Putin: Mobilize Science & Industry to Defeat COVID

Putin’s Conference on Defeating COVID-19 by Outflanking the New Strains

Mar. 25 (EIRNS)–Russian President Vladimir Putin held a videoconference earlier this week on the scientific and industrial mobilization needed to expand COVID-19 vaccine production, and to attack the virus. By way of introduction, he said that their Sputnik V vaccine, now approved in 55 countries representing 1.4 billion people, would expand to 2.5 billion people shortly. He celebrated the latest contract with India for production of another 100 million doses, “the news of the day.” Now there are contracts for the production of 1.4 billion doses. For their own population, Russia is aiming for 139.6 million doses and, as of last week, have 40.2 million.

The Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said that production is ramping up. April should see 17 million more doses. They also have manufacturing agreements in 10 countries. Further, their new EpiVacCorona vaccine is planned for 11 million doses by July. It is designed to be able to hit a wide array of variants. The Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko reported on a new version of Sputnik V that can be stored easily at non-frozen temperatures (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit), important for far-flung parts of Russia; and a new Sputnik Light, for trials on 12-17 year olds. The concern there was not-so-much about mortality but about possible and unknown long-term damage to children form COVID-19.

The chairman of the board of Pharstandard, Viktor Kharitonin, reported that their ramping up to 200-300 million doses per year involved recruiting Russian exile scientists back to Russia for the war against the virus: “Over 20 percent of our scientists returned from the EU, the United States and Israel at our invitation and are now helping us develop a modern pharmaceutical industry…”

Gamaleya director Alexander Gintsburg highlighted talks last week, headed by Sergei Razov, Russia’s ambassador to Italy, with Italy’s Spallanzani Institute — “a counterpart of ours” in being the national regulatory institute. They agreed to produce a “draft memorandum of cooperation” to work with Spallanzani’s key resource, “the largest collection of newly emerged and isolated strains of COVID-19 pathogens in Europe…” Plasma samples from people vaccinated with Sputnik V are to be tested for “the neutralizing activity of the serum…” Denis Logunov, Gamaleya deputy director, who actually developed the vaccine, explained that, as with the flu virus, we “examine sera screening from vaccinated patient’s reactions to new strains. I consider this very important… We must not miss the important moment when the virus, for one, gets out of control and the existing vaccines may become even potentially ineffective. In terms of science, I consider this prospect the most important.”


African Development Bank President: No Economic Justice Without `Vaccine Justice’

Mar. 22 (EIRNS)–Africa needs “global solidarity and vaccine justice,” were the words of African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina on Friday, March 19. Adesina launched the Bank’s {African Economic Outlook 2021} report, and decried the economic effects that the lack of Covid-19 vaccines was having on Africa. The connection of global health with global economic recovery was paramount. With Adesina was economist and Nobel laureate (2001) Joseph Stiglitz, who in addition to endorsing an increased “healthcare defense,” for the continent, also endorsed the idea of “debt restructuring,” a topic first raised by his African host.
            The AfDB president implicitly addressed the idea of global health, saying that “as long as Africans remain unvaccinated, the world will go right back to square one,” something no amount of imperial ‘vaccine passports’ could prevent. “Africa needs to develop its pharmaceutical industry and begin manufacturing,” he said, adding that “the African Development Bank is going to support African countries to do this.”
            Supporting this position, Stiglitz said, “One of the things that some of us have been campaigning for is the suspension of the intellectual property rights related to Covid-19 because {the supply constraint that you describe is at least, to some extent, artificial}… If access to the intellectual property rights were more extensive, there is throughout the emerging markets and developing countries considerable capacity to produce a lot of more vaccines.” [emphasis added]
            Speaking of the debt, Stiglitz noted that “every country has bankruptcy laws, but there’s no bankruptcy law for international debt…. When there’s too much debt, it’s as much the creditor’s problem as the debtor’s problem.” Stiglitz said the G20 debt postponement took place when it seemed the pandemic might only last a few months. “Now … a standstill is not enough.”
He added that it was in the self-interest of advanced countries to make sure that everybody has access to the vaccine and other related medicines. “The longer the disease festers in any part of the world, it can mutate, and one of the things we know is that those mutations are not going to respect borders. The Covid-19 virus doesn’t carry a passport.”
            Other notable African voices that have called for “vaccine justice” for Africa are those of South African President and recent African Union chair Cyril Ramaphosa, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong.


“Vaccine Diplomacy” ~ U.S. Stopped Approval of Russia’s Vaccine to Brazil; Now Brazilian Deaths Rising

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Brags It Used Diplomatic Pressure To Stop Brazil from Approving Russia’s COVID Vaccine

March 16, 2021 (EIRNS) — The annual report of the HHS’s Office of Global Affairs stated that they had “used diplomatic relations in the Americas region” to stop Russian and Chinese “vaccine diplomacy” in the region “to the detriment of US safety and security.” In the report, signed by Trump’s HHS Secretary Aznar, they pat themselves on the back about for having successfully used “OGA’s Health Attaché office to persuade Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.” When questioned by TASS today, the Biden HHS repeated their adherence to that approach with the standard sophistry: “The United States is a firm believer in the need for vaccines that meet the minimum clinical standards of efficacy.”

Russia’s {RT} covered the story as a “bombshell admission,” noting that Brazil is currently sinking into an uncontrolled COVID crisis with a very small percentage of the population vaccinated. The article cited an expert at Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, saying that “we believe countries should work together to save lives. Efforts to undermine the vaccines are unethical and are costing lives.”

China’s {Global Times} published an article by editor Wang Wenwen which also pointed to the HHS admission that it used diplomatic pressure “to force Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, to reject the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V.” The editorial more broadly attacked, saying that “the West’s indulgence and zeal of the Cold War era is being manifested by its politicization of vaccines. The US, in particular, is practicing its very selfishness in vaccine distributions and exploiting vaccines as a geopolitical weapon, which, consequently, is dividing the world into two camps — one represented by countries inoculated with Chinese and Russian vaccines and the other with US and European vaccines.”

Europe is publicly lined up with the United States, Wang noted, but, “What is even more ironic is that the EU publicly dismissed Russia’s global vaccine supply, but has been turning to Sputnik V shots behind the scenes, according to media reports. Clearly, the EU cannot afford the self-invented geopolitical game involving vaccines.”

China’s approach is different, Wang argued. “Being a major power, China’s offer of vaccines to other countries is out of responsibility and morality without political attachment. That is why many countries welcomed and defended Chinese vaccines. If China’s influence expands, it is a natural outcome… Just imagine, if the global supply of vaccines is monopolized by the US, how many more people would die? Does the US care? The answer is clear.”


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