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World Food Program’s Beasley Met With Taliban in Afghanistan on Continuity of UN Relief

World Food Program’s Beasley Met With Taliban in Afghanistan on Continuity of UN Relief

Sep. 1 (EIRNS)–David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, was in Afghanistan last week, during the evacuation period, to personally see to arrangements to continue and step-up food and humanitarian relief in these very hard times. He met with Taliban leaders on plans. Then, back in his home state of South Carolina, he was interviewed by local TV WBTW, in a video now in circulation, stressing the need for resources and action in Afghanistan. The interview can be seen here.

Overall, 18 million Afghans are in need of humanitarian relief—half the population, with over 500,000 displaced. Four million are near death this year from starvation, without reliable food relief, Beasley said.

He stressed, on his operating approach, “We have to negotiate, work with whoever controls an area. That’s why we’re in war zones. We work with both sides. We have no choice, because we’re trying to reach the innocent victims in the conflict. ” He said of his visit, “We’ve had very frank conversations and so far, quite shockingly, the Taliban has said to us, ‘We want you to do what you do. We don’t want to interfere.’ They’ve actually provided protection and warehouses and some of our supply chain and our routes.”

The World Food Program is appealing for an additional $200 million over the next 45-day period, in order to obtain and pre-stage food for the coming Winter months. Beasley is also mobilizing WFP workers to man the front lines to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in poor countries. The WFP is the UN logistics and travel service for all purposes, not just food.

Today, UN representative in Afghanistan Isabelle Moussard Carlsen gave an interview to CGTN on the dimensions of need for aid in Afghanistan. Since May, 80,000 more people have been displaced, above the 500,000, and more of this is taking place. Of the children under five years old, 60% are suffering from acute, severe malnutrition.


Epidemiologists’ `Math’ Says Vaccinate More Before Any Boosters

Epidemiologists’ `Math’ Says Vaccinate More Before Any Boosters

Aug. 22 (EIRNS) — A low-key op-ed by two epidemiologists, “Boosters won’t stop the Delta variant: Here’s the math”, was published back on Aug. 15 in the Washington Post. While focused on the United States, if applied to the entire world’s population it appears to provide substantiation for focusing all available and contracted vaccine supplies on the basic vaccination of citizens before giving any booster shots. The premise of their analysis: “Many vaccinated people are asking whether it’s time to get a booster dose. But the math behind the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19 can help us see that it’s not.”

The argument: The basic reproductive number R0 or the original virus in this pandemic — the number of people likely to be infected by each infectious person if there is no immunity in the population — was 3; of the Delta variant, it is estimated at 6-9. Re is the effective reproductive number, which is R0 multiplied by the share of the population which is susceptible to the disease, and which must be kept at 1 or lower to keep the epidemic from spreading. The susceptible portion of the population can be expressed by [1-xv], where 1 is the whole population (or adult population), x is the percentage of people fully vaccinated and v is the vaccines’ effectiveness. Then the effective reproductive number of the virus, Re, is R0 times [1-xv]. This Re is a direct measure of how fast and how far the Delta variant infections, hospitalizations and deaths spread.

Taking the Delta variant’s R0 as 8 and the vaccine effectiveness as 85%, Re would be just 1.2 if the entire target population were fully vaccinated. At 52% fully vaccinated (where the United States is now), Re for Delta is about 4, worse than the original virus variant when no one at all was immune. If a booster shot is assumed to raise vaccine effectiveness to 95%, then Re with the currently vaccinated population, if they were all to be boosted, is still about 4.

But if 75% of the target population were to become fully vaccinated, the Re number drops below 3. If 85% were vaccinated, with no boosters, Re would be about 2.4, even having assumed an R0 value which is near the top of the range for the Delta variant.

In other words, there is a huge field for increasing x, the proportion of people vaccinated; relative to the small range for increasing v, the vaccines’ effectiveness, by booster shots; and this determines how the spread of the Delta variant of COVID can be arrested. It would seem to apply to the population of all the world’s nations, as well as to that of Americans.

The authors are Prof. Eleanor Murray, Boston Univ. School of Public Health; and her doctoral student Ruby Barnard-Mayers.


China Announces Two Billion COVID-19 Vaccines to Be Exported in 2021

China Announces Two Billion COVID-19 Vaccines to Be Exported in 2021

Aug. 6 (EIRNS)–President Xi Jinping announced today that China will export two billion COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. The massive expansion of production capacity this year has allowed China to export between 600 to 750 million doses so far, while also applying over 1.7 billion doses within China. The track record of Sinovac and Sinopharm so far indicates that they will produce almost 5 billion doses this year, and Tao Lina, a vaccine expert in Shanghai confirms this. Otherwise, China is presently vaccinating their population at the rate of 17.9 million shots a day, which is seven times the rate of the European Union, and 30 times that of the United States.

President Xi sent a written message today to the International Forum on Covid-19 Vaccine Cooperation, hosted by China Central Television and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang-Yi. He described the vaccine as a “global public good,” and stressed common action on world health as part of building a community with a shared future for mankind. He recognized the problem with the resurgences of the coronavirus allowing for the proliferation of mutations and variant strains. Besides exporting vaccines, he described China’s work with countries to develop and produce vaccines, with joint production already begun in the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan and Mexico — a new capacity of over 200 million doses, which needs further expansion.


World Health Organization: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout To Accelerate in Africa

World Health Organization: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout To Accelerate in Africa

Aug. 5, 2021 (EIRNS) – A World Health Organization article published in Consortium News July 30 reports on the 520 million vaccine doses that will be shipped to Africa by the end of 2021 by COVAX. Can they be administered in that 4-plus-month time frame by the public health systems of the African countries? That is a vital question.

Ethiopian biologist Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said that poorer countries worldwide have administered, on average, 1.5 shots per 100 people, while developed countries have administered 100 shots for 100 people, on average.

Up to the present, only 79 million COVID doses have arrived in Africa, and 21 million people, or just (1.6 percent) of Africa’s population are fully vaccinated.


China Institutes More Stringent Measures To Combat New COVID Outbreaks

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—China is experiencing a resurgence of COVID, particularly of the new delta variant, and is implementing more stringent measures to deal with it. Most seem to have developed through imported cases, at the airport in Nanjing and in the south Yunnan province at the Myanmar border. But the provinces of Zhejiang and Henan, where there has been major flooding recently, have also been hit with new cases. The city of Wuhan is also again in the process of conducting nucleic acid testing on its 11 million people in order to avoid a replay of the terrible 2020 outbreak.

The State Council announced on Aug. 3 that COVID-19 prevention and control would now be “the top priority” for local governments. “Airports, harbors and land borders should be closely guarded to prevent imported COVID-19 cases. International travelers and cargo should be strictly separated from spaces where local people can enter,” Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau said in her comments at the press conference announcing the new measures.

“People that are most prone to infection should be placed in quarantine immediately. Regional investigations targeting close contacts should be completed within 24 hours,” she said. Sun required nationwide scrutiny of in-hospital infection control measures. “Hospitals that fail to meet the standards should carry out rectification or even suspend operations,” she said. There are now four high-risk areas for the COVID outbreak and 150 medium-risk areas. The country has already distributed 1.7 billion doses of the vaccine.


Florida and Texas Governors Stand Up for the Right To Die of COVID

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—Governors Ron DeSantis (FL) and Greg Abbott (TX) are adopting policies in their states worthy of the Flagellant cult of the 14th century. They have each instituted a statewide ban on mask mandates and they have prohibited school districts from requiring masks in schools. Texas has even started fining teachers who dare to ask their students if they are vaccinated, or ask those who are not to mask. In Florida, counties are being threatened that their funding will be pulled if they issue mask mandates, and already that led to Broward County withdrawing its mask mandate.

As a result of this medieval lunacy, among other causes, one-third of all new COVID cases nationwide come from those two states.

DeSantis has also angrily denounced the suggestion that those who are not vaccinated and not masking or social distancing are responsible for getting sick. He insisted: “In Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions and no mandates.”


28 Nations Participate in China’s Belt and Road Partnership on COVID Vaccines Cooperation

August 3, 2021 (EIRNS)—On June 23 of this year, at the Asia and Pacific High-Level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation, presided over by China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, 28 nations joined in launching the China Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Covid-19 Vaccine Cooperation. The statement announcing this initiative stressed that international cooperation and solidarity are key to fighting the pandemic, that “people and their lives” must be put first, and that no one is safe until everyone is safe. It emphasized that vaccines must be equitably distributed and that there must be “open, fair and non-discriminatory international cooperation on vaccines.”

A number of other recommendations for the BRI vaccine cooperation initiative included facilitating joint vaccine research, development and technological exchanges; promoting partnerships between vaccine producers and developing countries for joint vaccine production, to scale up global production; encouraging regional and multilateral development banks to provide more concessional financing to developing countries for their vaccine procurement and production; and “strengthening Belt and Road cooperation on connectivity to ensure cross-border flows of vaccines.”

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday, in less than two months the BRI vaccine initiative has yielded impressive results, reaching cooperative agreements with several of the initiative’s 28 co-sponsors on a total of 775 million doses of vaccines, including in the form of concentrates, of which 350 million doses have been delivered. In addition, Chinese companies have started joint production with four co-sponsors of this initiative, whose names were not specified, and are discussing joint production “with other interested countries.” In today’s foreign ministry press conference, spokesman Wang Wenbin reported that China has provided vaccine assistance to over 80 countries and vaccines to 40 countries, also reporting that China is collaborating with other developing nations to mass produce the vaccine. It was also announced today that the World Health Organization has granted emergency use authorization to China’s Sinovac vaccine. (The full initiative statement is detailed here.)

The 28 countries include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Fiji, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.


So. Korea Plans: Producing Up to 1 Billion Vaccines in 2022

South Korea Plans for Producing Up to 1 Billion Vaccines in 2022

July 28 (EIRNS)—While it remains to be seen how the U.S. will follow through on their commitment to assist India in ramping up COVID-19 vaccine production, the U.S.-Korea plans are moving forward. In India’s case, the U.S. has a bumpy history of blocking critical raw materials for India’s world-leading vaccine production operations, and then turning down repeated requests for vaccines when India was in the greatest need. And today, Antony Blinken offered a paltry, even insulting, $25 million for India’s vaccination program. No vaccines included.

On May 23, when South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in came to the White House, agreement was made on a Global Vaccine Partnership (GVP), first with a “KORUS GVP Experts Group” of scientists, public officials and various experts. Seoul had actually wanted immediate vaccines from the U.S. in exchange for future vaccines to be provided from Seoul to the U.S.—but that was refused. Instead, four deals were initiated, beginning with Samsung Biologics arrangement to produce “hundreds of millions” of Moderna vaccines, as soon as technology transfer and trial production were completed. South Korea would be putting up the money for purchasing the vaccines produced. Moderna also signed an MOU with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and also the Ministry of Health and Welfare, for Moderna to invest in production facilities in Korea using a Korean workforce, with Korean government support for Moderna. Another MOU was signed by both the Health Ministry and SK Bioscience with the U.S.’s Novavax for vaccine development and production.

The update this month, from “a senior South Korean government official” is that Seoul is in talks with Pfizer and Moderna on expanding production up to 1 billion doses in 2022. (This is on top of deals with AstraZeneca and Novavax.) Health Ministry official Lee Kang-ho commented: “We have had frequent discussions with large pharmaceutical companies to produce mRNA vaccines. South Korea is keen to help by offering its facilities and skilled human resources.” The speculation is that Hanmi Pharmaceuticals and Quratis might be ready to start up production immediately. Hanmi said it has a large capacity reserved to produce Sanofi’s diabetes drug, but that is at a temporary standstill, and the capacity can meanwhile be used to produce COVID vaccines. And Quratis has a one-year-old factory which makes a tuberculosis vaccine, and they say they have capacity for mRNA vaccines. It appears that the technology, workforce and capital is all present, waiting to move forward.


COVID Delta Variant Explodes in Africa as It Soars in Asia and Ibero-America Too

July 27, 2021 (EIRNS)—On July 9 the Africa Center for Strategic Studies warned, “The surge of the Delta coronavirus variant in Africa is set to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in the coming months, absent a dramatic scaling up of prevention measures and COVID vaccine access.” Now just 18 days later, the North, South, and East of Africa have exploded with new COVID cases. The latest infographic from the Africa Center dated July 12, shows total known confirmed cases of COVID in Africa at 5,984,845 since the beginning of the pandemic. View the time-lapsed map here.

At the time of the July 9 Africa Center report “26 African countries [had] seen their confirmed COVID-19 case[s] jump by approximately 50%” in June compared to May. Then, in the first week of July, 5,600 people across Africa died from COVID, a 43% increase from the week before. Overall, the Center noted, “There has been a near tripling in the number of COVID cases and 30,000 fatalities on the continent since the end of April when the Delta variant emerged in Uganda.” By mid-July the Delta variant was found in 22 of 54 African countries, countries with inadequate healthcare platforms and access to vaccines—criminally, a mere one percent of Africans have been vaccinated.

A change-in-fatalities table, by the Africa CDC, compared death-rate increases May 8-June 7 to June 7-July 7, showing that 16 African countries had a 450% to 4,303% rise in COVID deaths, while six African countries had a 100% to 397% rise in COVID deaths. The table is here.

Now, July 27, an International Rescue Committee press release reads, “From Asia to Africa to Latin America, countries are suffering from record COVID-19 caseloads and deaths, … The Delta variant is leading to a spike in cases in crisis-affected countries. In the month to July 25th, there has been a significant increase in cases in Zimbabwe (116%), Thailand (110%), Myanmar (78%), Liberia (60%), Bangladesh (33%) and Afghanistan (29%), and concerning test positivity rates in Mexico (37%), Iraq (22%), Colombia (22%), Zimbabwe (20%) and Democratic Republic of Congo (17%).”

Echoing Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s call for new healthcare platforms in every country, and Dr. Joycelyn Elders’ insistence that public health measures are urgently needed, the Africa CDC July 9 report concluded that need is clear to “ramp up vaccine access to avert a humanitarian calamity” and, since “Africa does not have the hospital infrastructure to rely on …. Prevention, relying on public health principles, remains the indispensable priority.”


Southeast Asia in COVID Explosion

July 22, 2021 (EIRNS)–Indonesia now has the world’s highest COVID-19 infection rate and death rate, while other Southeast Asian countries are also facing a dangerous spike and a lack of adequate medical capacity.

* INDONESIA surpassed India’s peak per-capita death rate at 4.17 per million, compared to India’s peak of 3.04. Wednesday saw the highest death toll thus far at 1,383, while reported new cases exceed 50,000 per day (but with little testing, the actual number is thought to be much higher). The government ordered the conversion of oxygen production to be 90% for medical purposes from 20% normally. About 14% of the population has had at least one vaccine dose, primarily China’s Sinovac.

* MALAYSIAN hospitals are terribly overcrowded. AP reports that the national lockdown measures, which have badly damaged the economy, have not stemmed the infection rate of more than 10,000 daily. About 15% of the population is fully vaccinated, and the government hopes to have a majority vaccinated by the end of the year. The death rate per million is close to that of Indonesia, at 4.02.

* MYANMAR is still in a state of social chaos since the coup in February and the mass demonstrations — and mass killing of demonstrators by the junta. Now the pandemic is sweeping the country with few reliable statistics. The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human RIghts (an organization opposing the junta) reports in a statement: “With little testing capacity, low numbers in the country vaccinated, widespread shortages of oxygen and other medical supplies, and an already beleaguered health care system under increasing strain, the situation is expected to get increasingly worse in the coming weeks and months.” It is believed that only 3% of the population has been vaccinated. The head of the department that oversees the cemeteries told military-run Myawaddy TV news on Monday that 350 staff members had been working three shifts since July 8 to ensure proper cremations and burials of people at Yangon’s seven major cemeteries, adding that they had cremated and buried more than 1,200 people on Sunday alone, including 1,065 who had died at home of COVID-19 and 169 who had died in hospitals.

AP reports that Cambodia and Thailand have also seen strong increases in both coronavirus cases and deaths, but have thus far held the seven-day rate per million people to a lower 1.29 and 1.74, respectively.


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