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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.”

COVID-19: Brazilian Infections Critical Point; Lula de Silva says were avoidable

Lula Calls Bolsonaro an “Imbecile” for His Handling of the COVID Crisis

March 11, 2021 (EIRNS) – Brazilian former President Lula de Silva yesterday delivered his first public speech since his phony conviction for graft was overturned by the Brazilian Supreme Court earlier this week, and he used the occasion to rip into President Jair Bolsonaro as an “imbecile” for his handling of the COVID pandemic. “Many of these deaths could have been avoided,” Lula stated, referring to Brazil’s stunning 268,000 deaths. Brazil has the second- highest number of COVID deaths in the world, after the United States.

Speaking to a rally of metalworkers in Sao Bernardo do Campo, his historic base, Lula charged, “This country is disorganized and falling apart, because it has no government,” and he demanded “Health, jobs and justice for Brazil… The people need jobs.” Lula may run for President against Bolsonaro in the October 2022 elections, although some voices have surfaced in the country calling for Bolsonaro to be driven out of office immediately, if the country is to survive.

Bolsonaro’s outrageous disregard for human life and dismissive attitude about any and all anti-pandemic measures (“stop whining” about the pandemic, he told Brazilians a few days ago), has converted Brazil into a threat to the health of the entire planet. According to Fiocruz, a respected biological sciences R&D center in Rio de Janeiro, the new P1 strain of the coronavirus that has emerged in Brazil, which is thought to be twice as contagious as the original strain, may also evade immunity built up by having had the original version of COVID, with a chance of reinfection estimated at between 25% and 60%. Furthermore, P1 is just one of several “variants of concern” that have become dominant in six of eight states studied by Fiocruz.

“This information is an atomic bomb,” said Roberto Kraenkel, of the Covid-19 Brazil Observatory, according to the Washington Post.

Fiocruz also reports that 15 state capitals have intensive care units (ICUs) that are at more than 90% capacity, including the two largest states, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The national capital, Brasilia, is also reported to be at full ICU capacity, while two major cities — Porto Alegre in the south and Campo Grande in the southwest — have exceeded capacity. There is an imminent danger of the “overload and even collapse of health systems,” the R&D center warned.

BBC reported: “Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a natural laboratory, where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked… Global experts are calling for a plan — including rapid vaccination, lockdowns, and strict social distancing measures — to get the situation under control.” Brazilian epidemiologist Dr. Pedro Hallal told the BBC: “If we do not start vaccinating the population here very soon, it will become a massive tragedy.”

Brazil, with a population of 211 million, is by far the largest country in South America, and shares borders with 10 different nations: every country of South America with the exception of Chile and Ecuador. It has also has extensive historic ties and travel with Africa. And its population was one of the most ravaged by AIDS in decades past, opening up dangerous potentials in terms of its relationship to the coronavirus.

Growing U.S. Acceptance of Vaccine Usage

Vaccination Is Increasing Americans’ Acceptance of Vaccines

March 7 (EIRNS) – A number of new polls appear to show a continuing increase in acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination as the vaccines are actually available and their distribution has reached tens of millions of people without ill effects, The Hill reported March 4.

There was a point in September 2020 when no more than 15% of Americans in some polls said they would get vaccination for COVID if it were available. By late January, Kaiser Family Foundation and Axios/Ipsos polling showed that 55-57% intended to get the vaccine or had already received a shot.

But in a Pew Research Center poll published Feb. 26, some 50% of U.S. adults surveyed between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21 said they would “definitely or probably” get vaccinated, in addition to 19% who had already received at least one shot; so acceptance appeared to have risen to near 70%.

The Pew poll reported that just over 60% of Black Americans now said they had been vaccinated or intended to, whereas only 42% had indicated willingness in November. Acceptance among Hispanics remained lower in the latest poll, however, just over 40%.

A section of the forthcoming EIR, “Vaccination: The General Welfare”, reports on the pace of COVID vaccination around the world – the successes and the critical and dangerous problems – and includes an important interview with the head of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, who focuses on this subject. Meharry is the leading medical school among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

COVID-19: Vaccine Access for All

China Announces Plans To Produce 3.5 Billion Vaccine Doses in 2021

March 4, 2021 (EIRNS)–A major expansion of COVID-19 vaccine production is underway in China, now surpassing 3.5 billion doses in 2021. Further, China has decided to vaccinate 560 million of its citizens by June 30, an average of about five million/day. The U.S. is just now arriving at the capacity for 2.5 million/day, on its way to a 3-4 million/day level.

At a major meeting of the Chinese Center for Disease Control on Tuesday, decisions were made to escalate vaccinations on a vast scale. Up to now, China has targeted 52.5 million vaccinations, concentrating upon those who are most exposed to people and products coming into the country at airports, train stations, and harbors, and upon those exposed internally, such as health workers. Their testing and tracking methods have pre-empted a need to rapidly vaccinate. However, they have decided that it would undermine the efforts of neighbors, such as India, who are going for herd immunity levels of vaccination, if China were unvaccinated when their neighbors had achieved their goal. Social responsibility dictates that China should not be the weak link at that point. Health authorities were sent around the country after the Tuesday meeting, to organize the vaccinations of 560 million people by June 30 and another 330 million by the end of the year.

The 3.5 billion vaccine doses will come from Sinovac Biotech, which, according to CEO Yin Weidong, is expanding to a two-billion-dose/year capacity; CansinoBIO, which is building a new factory in Shanghai and plans on 500 million doses in 2021; and Sinopharm, which guarantees at least one billion doses in 2021. Previously, India has led the world, with a production schedule of 2.25 billion COVID-19 vaccines in 2021.

COVID-19: new tool in the arsenal to defeat it.

Johnson & Johnson One-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Passes FDA Advisory Board Unanimously

Feb. 27 (EIRNS)—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) passed the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine unanimously on Feb. 26, the company announced in a press release today. The vaccine has a 72% efficacy in the U.S. and 64% in South Africa. Against severe cases, globally, it was 85% effective. The vaccine is for those 18 years and older. It is stored at regular refrigerator temperatures.

The vaccine is the first one-dose vaccine to be approved. It can be a very important part of the fight, especially where logistics are difficult. Johnson & Johnson expects to produce and send out 20 million doses for the U.S. by March 31, and 80 million more doses by June 30. Assuming that the company gets around 25 million of the 80 million out in April, the U.S. would have vaccine doses for some 195 million Americans by the end of April—or 75% of the eligible population. Once those vaccines get into arms, the country would be in the range of herd immunity.

Dr. James Hildreth, CEO and President of Meharry Medical College, tweeted: “I am pleased to have been part of VRBPAC for review of the vaccine.  We must not let a narrative take hold that this is a ‘lesser’ vaccine than the mRNA vaccines. This vaccine prevents severe disease and death and in the crisis we are in that [is] the most important thing.” For more on Dr. Hildreth’s analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic, see the Feb. 1, 2021, Schiller Institute’s Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites interview. 

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