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Trump predicts coronavirus vaccine by years end, vows plague will pass

As some states loosen lockdown restrictions in a bid to set the nation’s battered economy on the roa..

As some states loosen lockdown restrictions in a bid to set the nation’s battered economy on the road to recovery, President Trump endorsed a state-by-state approach while predicting at a Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday that a coronavirus vaccine could be available by December.

“I think we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year,” Trump told the moderators, Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, saying he was “very confident” in the assessment. “We’ll have a vaccine much sooner rather than later.”

Asked by MacCallum if he was concerned about the potential risks of accelerating a vaccine and human trials, Trump responded: “No, because they’re volunteers. They know what they’re getting into … They want to help the process.”

That timeline was dramatically ahead of previous estimates from both public and private sector experts at the outset of the pandemic, which had said a vaccine could take up to 18 months, if not longer. But, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this weekend it was “doable if things fall in the right place” to have a vaccine by January.

CORONAVIRUS TIMELINE SHOWS SHIFTING RHETORIC ON THE PANDEMIC

Trump also predicted that the U.S. would be self-reliant on antibiotics, without needing to rely on China, within two years. Republicans have said it’s “crazy” that America is reliant on China, a communist adversary, for critical supplies including antibiotics.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


However, Trump predicted that as many as 100,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus, in a significant increase from his estimate of 60,000 last month. “Were going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” Trump said, calling it a “horrible” situation. Without his administration’s actions, Trump asserted, “the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five, thats the minimum.”

Trump generally backed the efforts of America’s governors to manage the crisis, saying that each state will have a different approach to reopening their economies.

“It’s going to pass,” he assured, repeatedly referring to the outbreak as the “plague.”

Trump went on to assert that Democrats and media organizations, who have mocked him for touting the possible benefits of hydroxychloroquine in fighting coronavirus, were motivated by politics and “don’t want to see a good result.” Some media organizations even reported that an Arizona couple had consumed fish tank cleaner because they believed it contained hydroxychloroquine. The woman in that case had claimed she was following Trump’s advice despite openly attacking Trump on social media. Her husbands death after ingesting the liquid is now under investigation.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Trump has consistently acknowledged during White House coronavirus briefings, beginning on March 19, that hydroxychloroquine might not work but was worth trying in some patients, given preliminary studies showing possible promising results. New, non-rigorous data has called those indicators into question, however.

“I’m standing up there and instead of a normal question, the level of anger and hatred. I’ll look at them, I’ll say ‘what is your problem?” Trump said at the town hall, referring to how the media treated him during White House coronavirus briefings.

Joe Biden, media outlets and other Democrats, Trump pointed out, had initially characterized his January travel ban on China as xenophobic, before changing their tune. When Baier queried Trump about a recent Biden tweet saying Trump had left the U.S. “unprepared” for a pandemic, Trump was immediately dismissive.

“Joe Biden didn’t write that,” Trump said. “That was written by a young man who got very good grades at a very good school.” At a previous Fox News town hall in March, Trump similarly implied that Biden is no longer mentally competent.

China, Trump said, had conclusively misled the world on the spread of the coronavirus. “I think, personally, they made a horrible mistake, and they didn’t want to admit it,” Trump said. He added that China had misled the World Health Organization, for which Trump suspended funding earlier in the year for failing to warn the global community and simply parroting China’s claims about the virus.

“The World Health Organization has been a disaster,” Trump said. “Everything they’ve said was wrong. And they’re China-centric. They agree with China, whatever China wants to do. So our country, perhaps foolishly in retrospect, has been paying $450 million a year to the World Health Organization. And China’s been paying $38 million a year. … So I’ll have to make a decision on that. … They missed every single call.”

Politico reported Sunday, citing the Department of Homeland Security, that China delayed informing the WHO that the coronavirus was contagious until it could first stockpile masks and other critical equipment.

A research dossier compiled by the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, that reportedly concludes China intentionally hid or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus pandemic, is consistent with U.S. findings about the origins of the outbreak so far, senior U.S. officials told Fox News on Saturday. Fox News was the first to report that sources were increasingly confident the virus likely had escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where the naturally occurring strain was being studied. The matter remains under investigation, however.

Sunday’s town hall event was entitled “America Together: Returning to Work.” It featured video questions submitted by viewers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

After what he called a “working weekend” at Camp David, Trump returned to the White House Sunday afternoon. The president has faced a cascading series of challenges in recent days, including protesters in Michigan storming the state capitol to protest stay-at-home orders, reports that North Korea’s leader was alive and healthy despite a CNN report that he was near death, and apparent discord within his administration as to the potential threat still posed by the coronavirus.

“A lot of people want to go back,” Trump told Baier and MacCallum. “You see demonstrations all over the country — and those are meaningful demonstrations. … Now we have to get it open. We have to get it open safely, but we have to get it open as quickly as possible.”

Asked by MacCallum whether he ever considers whether he went too far in pushing for a nationwide shutdown, Trump responded, “No, we did the right thing.” He added that millions of lives had been saved — but, he conceded, “I do look back on it.”

Trump said he has lost three friends due to the coronavirus: “This is a very advanced, very horrible thing we’re fighting. But, with all of that said, we’ve learned a lot about it. It affects older people. … This thing is vicious. And it can take you out. But children do very well. Young children do better than teens.”

At the same time, Trump said some states, including Virginia, aren’t opening up fast enough. He also took an apparent shot at California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, ordered Orange County beaches — prompting hundreds of protesters to flood the city of Huntington Beach in protest.

The town hall came amid other whirlwind developments in Washington. Bombshell new disclosures by the Justice Department, for example, largely supported Trump’s claims that FBI officials furtively worked to target some of his former top officials.

Among other revelations, FBI communications made clear that top bureau officials discussed their motivations for interviewing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the White House on January 24, 2017 — and openly questioned if their “goal” was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”

Back in the White House, Trump tweeted Sunday that the intelligence community had vindicated him on another matter.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


“Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S.,” Trump wrote, apparently contradicting an earlier report in The Washington Post. “Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner……Fake News got it wrong again, as always, and tens of thousands of lives were saved by my EARLY BAN of China into our Country. The people that were allowed were heavily scrutinized and tested U.S. citizens, and as such, I welcome them with open arms!”

Responding to a viewer question on the Post’s report on Sunday, Trump pointed out that top Democrats were opposing his measures to close down travel from China. Trump said that on Jan. 23, he had indeed received an intelligence report on the virus, but it indicated it wouldn’t be a major threat. Trump said intelligence materials would be released on Monday to substantiate his claim.

Politico had reported that the Trump administration held a briefing on the coronavirus for senators on Jan. 24, but it was “sparsely attended” in part because it “was held on the same day as a deadline for senators to submit their impeachment questions.”

Trump was joined later by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence, and the three emphasized that a payroll tax cut would be a necessary part of any future stimulus.

Mnuchin made clear that the White House was looking to “help states,” but not “bail out” any financial mismanagement.

Marine One, with President Donald Trump aboard, approaches the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Marine One, with President Donald Trump aboard, approaches the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


Pence, meanwhile, admitted he had made a mistake during a recent hospital visit. “I should have worn the mask at the Mayo Clinic,” he said.

Trump’s appearance at the Lincoln Memorial was his first interview with Baier and MacCallum since the Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pa., on March 5.

But, the nation’s political and economic landscape has transformed dramatically in the several weeks since Trump’s last town hall, which featured an in-person audience in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Even then, Trump made sure to tout his decision to close most travel from China in January, even though Democrats and some media organizations initially characterized the move as xenophobic.

CHRISTINE BLASY FORD V. TARA READE ON THE EVIDENCE

HOW THE MEDIA, DEMS HAVE CHANGED TUNE SINCE KAVANAUGH

“One of the things I did is, I closed down the borders to China and to other areas that are very badly affected and really having a lot of troubles — I mean, countries and areas of countries that have had a lot of problems,” Trump told an audience member at the March town hall. “And, I closed them down very early, against the advice of almost everybody, and weve been given rave reviews.”

Also at the March town hall, Trump touted his Gallup poll numbers, which showed relatively high marks for the administration’s coronavirus response. Those numbers rose six points in the last two weeks, according to the latest Gallup poll.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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The new survey found 49 percent approved of the presidents job in office and 47 percent disapproved, a personal best with Gallup for Trump.

Two weeks ago, 43 percent approved of the presidents job, according to the pollster. Trump also had a 49 percent approval rating in mid-March, according to Gallup, before his rating took a 6-point plunge in the first half of April.

However, Fox News polls showed that Biden has remained a strong rival for Trump in the early days of the campaign, and has surged ahead in key states.

For now, though, Trump made clear he was focused on confronting the pandemic more than political considerations. Asked at the end of the town hall what he had told family members about the crisis, Trump sounded an optimistic note.

“I sat down with my son, I sat down with my grandchildren. I said a terrible thing has happened,” the president told Baier. “But we’re going to be strong, we’re going to get out of it, and our country’s going to be bigger, better, and stronger than ever before.”

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Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulates Donald Trump despite no election result

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has handed Donald Trump victory in the 2020 United States Presi..

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has handed Donald Trump victory in the 2020 United States Presidential election, despite no official result being declared.

“Its pretty clear that American people have elected ⁦Donald Trump and Mike Pence for four more years,” Janša tweeted on Wednesday.

Donald Trump declared a premature victory at the White House and described the election process as a “major fraud on our nation”.

The campaign for Democrat candidate Joe Biden has described the bid to stop vote counting as “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect”, and say they are “ready to deploy” legal teams.




The Slovenian Prime Minister’s tweet generated an immediate response from several MEPs, including German Nicola Beer from Renew Europe Group.

“Donald Trump has his deeply undemocratic, unjustified playbook on elections EU Member States should not play along,” tweeted Beer.

“The European Union, with all Member States, has a duty to show respect for every single vote. Period.”

No other EU leader has issued congratulations or themselves announced a result in the US election.

“While we wait for the election result, the EU remains ready to continue building a strong transatlantic partnership, based on our shared values and history,” said EU Vice-President Josep Borrell.

The electoral college votes have not all been counted at time of writing.

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“More delays and facts denying … [the] bigger the final triumph for the President. Congratulations ⁦to the Republican Party for strong results across the US”.

The US election is currently locked in a stalemate, with hundreds of thousands of votes still to be counted, and the outcome still unclear in key states.

The post Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulates Donald Trump despite no election result first appeared on NewswireNow – A Press Release Publishing Service.

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Lessons for Africa from devastating Mauritius oil spill

The shipwreck of the MV Wakashio has caused one of Mauritiuss worst environmental catastrophes and i..

The shipwreck of the MV Wakashio has caused one of Mauritiuss worst environmental catastrophes and its devastating impact is expected to last for decades. Over 1 000 tonnes of fuel oil leaked into pristine Mauritian waters, covering the nearby shore in toxic sludge and immersing the ecosystem in a desperate struggle for survival.

This environmental crisis couldnt have occurred at a worse time for Mauritius. The spill will seriously impede the recovery of a Mauritian economy highly dependent on coastal tourism and already battered by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Mauritius and other African states need to promptly review their contingency strategies and response capacities so we can start positing immediate lessons to be learnt.

The national and international response to the MV Wakashio crisis was commendable. France, India, Japan and the International Maritime Organization cooperated to support local Mauritian efforts in a race against time to pump out the fuel from the vessel, which eventually broke apart on 15 August. Meanwhile local volunteers flocked to the shore with improvised booms and barriers.

Mauritius and other African states need to urgently review their contingency strategies

While a full investigation and report is urgently required, it is possible to start piecing together a narrative of what has occurred and how it turned so bad so quickly.

The MV Wakashio left China on 14 July heading for Brazil. On 25 July it ran aground on the reefs located roughly a mile off Pointe dEsny and the Blue Bay Marine Park along the south-eastern shore of Mauritius. No oil leakage was reported at the time, and the Mauritius coast guard swiftly deployed booms and took other preventive actions. The government activated its National Oil Spill Contingency Plan the following day.

By 5 August a minor oil slick was observed surrounding the vessel. It was still assumed that the countrys contingency plan was sufficient and that the risk of oil spill was still low. But then the MV Wakashio flooded and began sinking. Oil started to spill into the sea.

On 7 August Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a national environment emergency. Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo suggested that this is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem. Mauritius called for international help once the scale of the emergency became apparent and quickly overwhelmed the resources and capacity of the countrys national contingency plan.

The disaster demonstrates how even seemingly small oil leaks and spills can be devastating

Some of these resources were acquired as part of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention project from 2007-2012. The project also called for the establishment of the Regional Marine Pollution Co-ordination Centre (RCC) for Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Western Indian Ocean.

South Africa will host the RCC, and its establishment must now be expedited. The disaster demonstrates how even seemingly small oil leaks and spills can be devastating, especially when they occur in sensitive and critically important environmental areas.

Will other African countries and regional organisations develop sufficient capacity to respond to crises on the scale of the MV Wakashio without depending on international assistance? There is a great risk of oil spills and leaks occurring elsewhere in the African maritime domain in the future, especially spills that occur during bunkering.

The Cape of Good Hope route is a maritime super highway. Some countries, like South Africa, are able to swiftly respond on their own, as demonstrated in May when the potential wreck of the Yuan Hua Hu, also carrying 4 000 tonnes of fuel oil, was narrowly averted.

Theres a great risk of oil spills occurring elsewhere in Africa, especially during bunkering

Many countries such as Mauritius lack at least some of the resources or capacities needed to deal with such a disaster. Governments require up-to-date assessments to plan future responses. Better and more collective resources and skills at a regional or continental level are required.

Improved accountability mechanisms are also important. The Japanese owners of the MV Wakashio have offered, under international obligations, to pay compensation for applicable damages caused by the oil spill. Yet in other cases it might not be as easy to track the owners and determine liability (as can be seen in the investigation into the tragic Beirut port explosion of 4 August).

It is time for African maritime institutions to review their approaches and develop appropriate expertise and response mechanisms. This should ensure fast and effective regional or continental action when the inevitable oil leaks arise.

The results should be reported to key multilateral organisations – ideally to the African Union (AU) – as part of the implementation of 2050 Africas Integrated Maritime Strategy. The AU could, for instance, convene a consultative forum for experience and skills sharing with inputs from all the regional economic communities such as that hosted by the Southern African Development Community in 2018.

Disaster relief is expensive, but is nowhere near as controversial as other maritime issues such as creating security frameworks and determining boundaries. It can also foster collaboration anchored in regional AU institutions that draw on indigenous expertise and capacities.

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More than 100 children killed and injured as violence intensifies in Ituri, DRC – Save the Children

Kinshasa, August 13 – At least 83 children have been killed in the northern province of Ituri in the..

Kinshasa, August 13 – At least 83 children have been killed in the northern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo between April and July. Save the Children is horrified by the recent escalation of extreme violence, in which also at least 17 children were injured and 12 were sexually abused.

In the same period, around sixty schools were attacked, and 17 health facilities – two of which were supported but the charity.

“The situation for children is getting worse by the day, in a conflict they should not have a part in. We need to ensure children can return to school, that they and their families can go to health facilities if they need to, and that they are protected”, said Malik Allaouna, Save the Children country director in DRC.

“We need more resources, and call upon the international community and the Government of DRC to help alleviate the suffering of these children. We are asking all involved parties to grant unhindered access to humanitarian workers, so they can support those who are most in need.”

Since January 2020, the situation in Ituri has deteriorated significantly in the Djugu, Irumu and Mahagi territories. At least 1,315 people were killed, including 165 children. An estimated 300,000 people have been displaced since January, adding pressure to the situation in Ituri, which already hosted over 1.2 million Internal displaced people in 2019.

“Children who had to flee from the violence told us they had to leave everything behind because militias came into the area of Djugu. Suddenly, they found themselves homeless and without any food, having to sleep in schools”, said Dr Macky Manseka, Humanitarian Health and Nutrition Programme Manager at Save the Children.

Save the Children, which has been responding to this crisis for over a year, warns that displaced populations do not have access to enough food. Communities are also lacking health and nutrition services, clean and safe water and hygiene materials, as areas become increasingly cut off by violence and resources are in low supply.

“For example, there were more than 235 new cases of severe acute malnutrition in July 2020”, Dr. Manseka continued. “But because of the violence, we cant follow-up properly on sick or malnourished children. As a consequence, their treatment is disrupted, which might lead to relapses or even deaths.”

END

Note to editors:

Save the Children supports 17 health facilities, and runs programmes in support of survivors of sexual and gender based violence. It has a strong presence in the field of nutrition, and water, hygiene and sanitation. The organisation is also running education programmes in Ituri, and working to improve access to education for girls.

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