Rich countries snap up half of Covid-19 vaccine supply
Rich nations representing a fraction of the global population have already bought up more than half the stock of promised Covid-19 vaccines, a study showed, as US President Donald Trump pledged to begin inoculating Americans within weeks.
Big pharma is racing to produce an effective jab to counter the coronavirus that has now killed more than 942,000 people around the world and infected almost 30 million.
A study released by Oxfam showed a group of wealthy countries representing just 13% of the world population has secured the lion’s share of doses.
“Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman of Oxfam America. “Covid-19 anywhere is Covid-19 everywhere.”
The five leading vaccine candidates in late-stage trials will be able to supply 5.9 billion doses, enough to inoculate about three billion people, the Oxfam report said. Some 51% of those jabs have been snapped up by the wealthy world, including the US, Britain, the EU, Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel.
The remaining 2.6bn have been bought by or promised to developing countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.
Trump on Wednesday said he would begin rolling out a vaccine in America as soon as next month. “We’re very close to that vaccine... We think we can start sometime in October” or shortly thereafter, Trump said.
Over 170 nations join global vaccine plan
The World Health Organization (WHO) said more than 170 countries have joined its global plan to distribute vaccines fairly around the world, but cautioned that a race to develop shots could lead to fears about safety.
“We already face challenges with vaccine acceptance for many proven vaccines,” WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said. “We cannot risk having an effective vaccine for Covid-19 that people refuse because of the perception that it is unsafe.”
The European head of the WHO has warned of “alarming rates of transmission” of the virus in the continent. Hans Kluge said the largest proportion remains among adults aged 25 to 49, but pointed to increases in cases in older age groups as well.
Red Cross: Migrants in Asia facing blame
The Red Cross warned that the pandemic is driving discrimination towards vulnerable communities in Asia, especially migrants and foreigners. The humanitarian agency surveyed 5,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan and found about half blamed a specific group for spreading the coronavirus, with many mentioning Chinese people, immigrants and foreigners.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s economy shrank by a record 12.2% in the second quarter due to a strict coronavirus lockdown.
Statistics New Zealand released figures on Thursday that showed GDP fell far more than previously recorded and signalled that the nation of 5mn is officially in recession for the first time in 11 years.
Three bombs tore through minibuses in Afghanistan's northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Wednesday, killing at least nine people, police said. "The bombs were placed on three minibuses in different districts of the city," Balkh provincial police spokesman Asif Waziri told AFP, adding that 15 other people were wounded. Another bomb exploded inside a mosque in the capital Kabul late on Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding 10 others, the interior ministry said.
At least 16 people were killed after a blast tore through a mosque in Afghanistan's capital Kabul and three blasts ripped through three minibuses northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Wednesday. A spokesman for Kabul's commander said at least two people were injured in the blast on a mosque in Kabul. Emergency hospital said in a tweet it had received five bodies from the blast and more than a dozen wounded patients, reported Reuters.
Clashes erupted across several cities of Pakistan amid the Azadi March call by the ousted prime minister Imran Khan Niazi. After Karachi, Lahore and parts of Khyber Pakhunkhwa, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf supporters and workers resorted to violence in the federal capital Islamabad, where the party chief is set to hold the rally.
On a day Lahore witnessed clashes between supporters of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and police, former Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Hafeez took to Twitter and slammed the Pakistani establishment over the shortage of fuel and cash, tagging prominent politicians in the country. Political and economic volatility has deepened in the nuclear-armed nation ahead of a likely announcement by the International Monetary Fund later in the day on whether it will resume a $6 billion rescue package.
China's People's Liberation Army on Wednesday said it has conducted a military exercise around Taiwan as a warning against its “collusive activities” with the United States, two days after President Joe Biden said Washington would get involved militarily if China were to try to take the self-ruled island by force. “This is a stern warning to the recent collusive activities by the US and Taiwan secessionists,” Senior a spokesperson of the Eastern Theatre Command, Colonel Shi Yi was quoted in Chinese state media as saying.