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Health groups promise 100 million extra doses of Covid-19 vaccine for poor countries

Issued on: 30/09/2020 – 10:15Modified: 30/09/2020 – 10:16

Up to 100 million additional doses of an..

Issued on: 30/09/2020 – 10:15Modified: 30/09/2020 – 10:16

Up to 100 million additional doses of any eventual Covid-19 vaccines will be secured for delivery to poorer countries in 2021, health groups announced Tuesday, as the virus showed no sign of receding after claiming more than one million lives around the world.

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The announcement doubles the number of doses already secured from the Serum Institute of India by the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, following an initial agreement last month.

The public-private health partnership stressed that the eventual total is "potentially several times" greater, and said the price would be capped at $3 per dose.

"No country, rich or poor, should be left at the back of the queue when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines; this collaboration brings us another step closer to achieving this goal," Gavi chief Seth Berkley said.

As nine vaccine candidates are in last-stage trials, the World Bank said Tuesday it had asked its board of directors to approve $12 billion to help poor countries purchase and distribute vaccines.

A World Bank spokesman said that "the global economy will not recover fully until people feel they can live, socialize, work and travel with confidence."

As humanity struggles against Covid-19, the World Health Organization said this week that some 120 million rapid tests will soon be made available to low- and middle-income countries if funding can be secured.

The kits – faster, cheaper and easier to administer than standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests, but also less reliable – will be rolled out across 133 countries in the next six months.

European wave

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said that "responsible leadership matters" in steering the world through the pandemic.

"Science matters. Cooperation matters – and misinformation kills," he warned, urging people to respect familiar infection control measures like hand-washing, distancing and mask-wearing.

Case numbers are climbing rapidly in Europe, where governments are clamping down on movement in an attempt to curb the surge.

>>France's coronavirus second wave 'arriving faster than we thought'

Germany introduced new limits on the number of people who can attend private events, after Spain, France, Britain and Northern Ireland all imposed fresh restrictions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "a reaction is necessary" after recent outbreaks were frequently traced to weddings and other gatherings.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to share general confusion about his government's measures, apologising after wrongly saying that rules limiting gatherings in northeast England to no more than six people did not apply outdoors.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia said they were preparing to declare a state of emergency.

In Israel, which has the world's highest infection rate per capita, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday that there was "no way" the country's second nationwide coronavirus lockdown would be lifted after three weeks as originally planned.

New York worries again

Across the Atlantic, former coronavirus hotspot New York's rate of positive tests surged to more than 3 percent from below two in just 24 hours, authorities said, adding that Orthodox Jewish communities have faced a particularly sharp increase.

The figures were a "real cause for concern", Mayor Bill de Blasio toRead More – Source

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Covid: Thousands protest in France against proposed new vaccine pass

A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life.

Demonstrators in the capital, Paris, held placards emblazoned with phrases like “no to vaccine passes”.

Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and some 10 police officers were injured after the protests turned violent in some places.

The bill, which passed its first reading in the lower house of France’s parliament on Thursday, would remove the option of showing a negative Covid-19 test to gain access to a host of public venues.

Instead, people would have to be fully vaccinated to visit a range of spaces, including bars and restaurants.

The government says it expects the new rules to come into force on 15 January, although the opposition-dominated Senate could delay the process.

But demonstrators on Saturday accused the government of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.

Others targeted their anger at the president, Emmanuel Macron, over comments he made earlier this week in relation to unvaccinated citizens, telling Le Parisian newspaper that he wanted to “piss them off”.

One protester, hospital administrator Virginie Houget, told the Reuters news agency that Mr Macron’s remarks were “the last straw”.

And in Paris, where some 18,000 people marched against the new law, demonstrators responded to his coarse language by chanting: “We’ll piss you off”.

TV images showed altercations between protesters and police turning violent in some places. In Montpellier officers used teargas during clashes with the demonstrators.

Turnout for the protests was estimated to be about four times higher than the last major demonstrations on 18 December, when some 25,500 people marched across the country.

But despite the vocal protests, opposition to the new measures is not widespread and recent polling suggests the vast majority of people back the vaccine pass.

France is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in Europe, with more than 90% of over-12s eligible for the shot fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, new coronavirus infections are rising rapidly across France as the new Omicron variant takes hold.

The country recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the second time in a week on Friday and admissions to intensive care wards are rising steadily, putting healthcare systems under strain.

Some hospitals have reported that some 85% of ICU patients are not vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Covid-19: ‘There is no choice between lives and livelihoods,’ OECD chief Gurría says

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of t..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of the year, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development backs measures seen by many as tough. Ángel Gurría tells FRANCE 24: "If you win the battle against the virus first, you will have less economic consequences." He adds that "there is no choice between lives and livelihoods; it's a false dilemma".

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Mexican economist Ángel Gurría has been Secretary-General of the OECD since 2006 – throughout the global financial crash and subsequent recovery.

With hopes now high for viable vaccines against Covid-19, he's telling world leaders that the solutions to health and economic crises must carry the elements of our solutions to the environmental crisis too: "The single most important inter-generational responsibility is with the planet. That means the recovery, where we are going to make investments that have an impact for the next 30, 40 years, must absolutely have the sustainability of the planet in mind".

On the recently announced Pfizer vaccine, Gurría says: "It is a game changer […] The possibility of a vaccine being close is of enormous consequence. We still have to wait for it to be finalised, approved and distributed in sufficient amounts that it can get everywhere, so we are calculating that we are going to spend most of 2021 still living with the virus. But it changes expectations; the whole mood has improved considerably since the announcement."

On the refusal of Donald Trump, leader of the OECD's biggest single funder, to concede defeat in the US presidential election, Gurría sounds an upbeat note: "I believe that we will have an orderly transition of power in the United States come 20th January 2021. I believe in the institutions in the United States, I believe that the political forces in the United States will eventually align."

Finally, as talks drag on over a new Brexit deal on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, Gurría says he still expects a deal to be struck: "I believe that the common interest will lead to a deal […] The impact in Europe is going to be limited to the trade with the UK. The impact in the UK is going to be very serious, not only because of the flows of trade and flows of investment, but also because the overall business mood will be affected. So I am still counting on a deal."

Produced by Mathilde Bénézet

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Attacks in France and Austria: Europe’s response to extremism

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24
This Friday..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

TALKING EUROPE
TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24

This Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people were killed. The last few weeks have seen more bloodshed, with attacks in the Paris region, in Nice and in the Austrian capital Vienna. European leaders are looking for solutions: ways to stop hate being preached, broadcast and acted upon, while defending individual freedoms of speech and of conscience. In our debate we ask two leading members of the European Parliament, from France and from Austria, what they believe should be done.

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Produced by Yi Song and Perrine Desplats

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Our guests

  • Andreas SCHIEDER, Austrian MEP, Socialists & Democrats
  • Nathalie LOISEAU, French MEP, Renew Europe

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