WHO tasks African countries to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination
By Gistflash News
July 22, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on African countries to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination as the squeeze on vaccine shipments eases.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, made the call on Thursday during an online news briefing on COVID-19 in Africa.
She said the new case numbers in Africa fell by 1.7 per cent to nearly 282,000 in the week ending July 18.
She said the continent experienced an unbroken nine-week surge, excluding data from South Africa, which accounted for 37 per cent of these cases.
She added that the current peak was 80 per cent higher than Africa’s previous peak, excluding data from South Africa.
She explained that without the data from South Africa, cases rose in Africa by 18 per cent to over 182 000 in the week ending on July 18.
“Around 60 million doses are set to arrive in the coming weeks from the United States of America, Team Europe, the United Kingdom, purchased doses, and other partners through the COVAX facility.
“Over half a billion doses are expected through COVAX alone this year,” Moeti said.
She said no one should be under any illusion that Africa’s third wave was over.
“This small step forward offers hope and inspiration but must not mask the big picture for Africa. Many countries are still at peak risk and Africa’s third wave surged up faster and higher than ever before.
“The Eid celebrations which we marked this week may also result in a rise in cases. We must all double down on prevention measures to build on these fragile gains,” she said.
Meoti stated further that 21 African countries had seen cases rise by over 20 per cent for at least two weeks running, which was an increase of three countries over the previous week and the highly transmissible Delta variant had been found in 26 African countries.
According to her, the Alpha variant is in 38 countries and Beta is in 35, and that South Africa’s gains remain uncertain as protests have disrupted the country’s response, including disease surveillance and testing.
She said mass gatherings in the country could also trigger another rise in cases.
“A massive influx of doses means that Africa must go all out and speed up the vaccine rollout by five to six times if we are to get all these doses into arms and fully vaccinate the most vulnerable 10 per cent of all Africans by the end of September.
“Nearly 70 per cent of African countries will not reach the 10 per cent vaccination target for all countries by the end of September at the current pace.
“Around 3.5 million to four million doses are administered weekly on the continent, but to meet the September target this must rise to 21 million doses at the very least each week,” she said.
Moeti said Just 20 million Africans, or 1.5 per cent of the continent’s population, had been fully vaccinated so far and just 1.7 per cent of the 3.7 billion doses given globally had been administered in Africa.
She said high-income countries had administered 62 times more doses per person than low-income countries.
According to her, the World Bank estimates that in addition to the 9.5 billion dollars needed to buy enough vaccines to ensure adequate protection from COVID-19, another three billion dollars is required to fund operations.
“To increase uptake, countries must scale up operations, investments on operational costs, and address vaccine confidence.
“Countries need sufficient vaccine sites and health care workers, sufficient vaccine storage, and adequate transport and logistics for distribution,” Moeti said.
She said to boost the uptake of vaccines, African countries must address the fear of side effects, which were major drivers of people’s reluctance to get vaccinated.
Magnitude 5.8 earthquake hits Greek island of Crete
By Gistflash News
Sept 27, 2021
A magnitude 5.8 strong quake hit Greece’s Crete island on Monday, according to the Geodynamics Institute of the National Observatory of Athens.
The tremor’s epicentre was located at a depth of 10 km, some 25 km south of the city of Heraklion, the capital of Crete island, while aftershocks up to 4.3 magnitude have followed, according to Greek scientists.
Material damage has been reported, with no injuries until now, local officials told Greek national news agency AMNA.
Earlier, the Euro Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the quake’s magnitude at 6.2, which was later revised to 6.0.
WHO investigators seeking COVID-19 origin going back to China
By Gistflash News
Sept 27, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is launching a new investigation into the origins of COVID-19, months after an earlier probe ended without drawing firm conclusions, according to a report published.
WHO was putting together a team of some 20 scientists, who will be charged with finding new evidence in China and other locales, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The group will examine whether the virus emerged from a laboratory, a theory that has been angrily rejected by China.
In December 2020, WHO investigators began visits to Wuhan, China, where the first known outbreak of the virus took place.
But their March 2021 report said they had gotten insufficient information from Chinese scientists to answer key questions about COVID-19’s origin.
In August, U.S. intelligence agencies issued a separate report saying they also could not make firm conclusions about COVID-19’s origins.
Florida Gov. appoints Nigerian-American, Joseph Ladapo Surgeon-General
By Gistflash News
Sept 25, 2021
Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, U.S. has appointed a Nigerian-American, Dr Joseph Ladapo, as Florida Surgeon-General and Secretary of the Department of Health.
DeSantis in a statement posted on the Florida Department of Health website, stated that he was pleased to announce Ladapo for the position.
“I am pleased to announce that Ladapo will lead the Florida department of health as our state’s next surgeon-general
“Ladapo comes to us by way of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, with a superb background.”
According to him, Ladapo has had both a remarkable academic and medical career with a strong emphasis in health policy research.
The governor said: ” Ladapo will bring great leadership to the department of health, ” thanking both Dr Scott Rivkees and Dr Shamarial Roberson for their hard work on behalf of all Floridians.
Lieutenant-Governor, Jeanette Nuñez described Ladapo’s as, “an excellent choice to serve as our next surgeon general.
“Ladapo has impeccable credentials and a strong vision to effectively serve the people of Florida at the helm of our public health agency.
“Through his service to our state, we will continue Florida’s work to advance our public health goals,” Nuñez said.
Ladapo said he is honored to have been chosen by DeSantis to serve as Florida’s next surgeon-general.
“We must make health policy decisions rooted in data and not in fear.
“From California, I have observed the different approaches taken by governors across the country and I have been impressed by DeSantis’ leadership and determination,” he said.
The new surgeon-general said he was impressed by DeSantis’ leadership to ensure that Floridians were afforded all opportunities to maintain their health and wellness, while preserving their freedoms as Americans.
“It is a privilege to join his team and serve the people of Florida,” he said.
Ladapo was recently granted a professorship at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine.
Prior to joining UF, he served as an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),caring for hospitalised patients.
He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, who also holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
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