WHO Briefers Angry at Lack of Health Infrastructure in the War vs. COVID-19
July 6, 2021 (EIRNS)—The World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan and Maria Von Kerkhove answered questions for the public on Monday and allowed some of their frustration and anger to show. First on Monday: While new cases worldwide have stabilized, they have done so at an uncomfortably high level; this, in fact, reflects a dangerously unstable situation. While new cases in the Americas declined (13%), they raced upwards in Africa (15%) and Europe (28%). This last week had twenty countries undergoing sharp rises. Basically, the point of impact simply shifted. The two WHO specialists cited three interacting factors: uneven vaccination levels, the spread of the Delta variant, and social relaxing.
Then the anger: The WHO teams are fighting on the front lines. We’re really humanitarians, and we won’t give up. But the vaccines aren’t coming as they should, or even as promised. “The cavalry is not coming.” This destroys morale. So, people then give up, go back to work and accept what fate will bring them. What is needed is to build and invest in systems now—don’t wait for the next surge. A system involves: surveillance systems, testing in place, isolation, clinical care, contact tracing or at least cluster investigations and such; so that we can find out where the enemy is and go after it. Those systems need to be built now, and the wealthier West is not even doing it for their own populations. Their admonitions are an echo of Helga Zepp LaRouche’s 2020 call for a new global health platform for each country.
Ryan stressed that there were enough vaccines in the world right now to inoculate all the “at-risk” categories and the medical personnel. Kerkhove stressed that enough is known about the workings of the coronavirus to design a comprehensive war plan against it. It seems that the first 18 months of the battle finds the immaturity of political culture is no match for the reality of the virus.
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.
Africa Entering Third Wave; Equitable Vaccine Distribution Could Have Prevented It
June 21 (EIRNS) — Africa has officially entered its third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in less than two years — having been struck with two waves in 2020, and now going into another Winter season — with little relief in sight, and new more-virulent variants to deal with. “New cases, continent-wide are up by nearly 30% in the past week, and deaths are up by 15%,” said WHO Africa Regional Director, Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, in her weekly press conference June 17. “The threat of a third wave is real and rising.” A meager 1% of the African population has been vaccinated, due to the massive logistics barriers involved, along with lack of vaccine accessibility and financing. The land-locked nation of Uganda is the latest crisis spot– as cases in the nation of nearly 50 million have shot up over 131% in the last week– with Namibia, DR Congo and Angola each showing lesser spikes. Many more of the victims are now younger, and a much higher percentage of them now require oxygen as part of treatment. Uganda’s hospitals are nearing their limits, and the nation has put out requests to neighboring states for emergency relief supplies. The other nation again in the unwanted spotlight is South Africa, where President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to make a national address on June 15, as he once again declared a Level 3 lockdown. “A third wave of infections is upon us,” the president said. In just the past two weeks, “the average number of daily new infections has doubled. Then, we were recording around 3,700 daily infections. Over the last seven days, we have recorded an average of 7,500 daily infections. Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 over the last 14 days are 59% higher than the preceding 14 days.” Again reflecting the increased threat from variants, Ramaphosa said, “The average number of people who die from COVID-19 each day has increased by 48% from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days.” [emphasis added] Although South Africa responded effectively and built emergency capacity last year, four of the most populous provinces are officially in a third wave, with Gauteng — the most urban and populous — accounting for nearly two-thirds of new cases in the past week. “The increase in infections … is now faster and steeper,” he said, and “within a matter of days, it is likely that the number of new cases in Gauteng will surpass the peak of the second wave.” And Winter is just starting. South Africa’s vaccine rollout has been severely frustrated, first by the denial of AstraZeneca vaccines from India (as they faced their own crisis), and further by the complications around the Johnson & Johnson version, either one of which could have prevented this crisis. Vaccines are “the one statistic that provides a clear reason for hope,” Ramaphosa said. Last year (during the second wave), over hundreds of healthcare workers had become infected, as the “South African variant” was first encountered. “In the last seven days,” he said, “only 64 health care workers have been infected.” By the end of the week, South Africa is expected to produce its own Johnson & Johnson vaccines.