Connect with us

World news

Russia Claims First COVID-19 Vaccine As Global Cases Top 20 Million

Avatar

Published

on

Russia claimed Tuesday that it had developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus, as the pandemic marked another bleak milestone with 20 million infections globally.

President Vladimir Putin said that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed “Sputnik” after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite.

Western scientists have previously raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned any approval of the Russian vaccine would require rigorous review of data to show its safety and efficiency.

“I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity,” Putin said of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Moscow’s defence ministry.

Russia hopes to begin production in September and start vaccinating medical staff immediately afterwards.

Some 20 foreign countries have pre-ordered over a billion doses according to Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which helped develop the vaccine.

The race for a vaccine heats up as nations across the globe brace for new outbreaks of the disease even as they try to restart economies battered by months of initial lockdowns to curb the spread.

An AFP tally from official sources showed that by 1100 GMT Tuesday, the number of confirmed infections worldwide passed 20.1 million, having topped 20 million the previous night.

Almost 737,000 deaths had been recorded since the virus first emerged in China late last year and spread globally, with the figure expected to surpass 750,000 within days.

Tests underway

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that clinical trials of the vaccine involving several thousand participants would continue.

Elsewhere in the world, Indonesia said it would launch a “Phase 3” human trial of a vaccine candidate from China’s Sinovac Biotech.

“Phase 3” refers to trials involving large numbers of human test subjects and is usually the last step before regulatory approval.

Sinovac’s vaccine, dubbed CoronaVac, is already being tested on 9,000 Brazilian health workers.

A WHO overview said 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, with six reaching Phase 3.

But the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan warned that a vaccine was “only part of the answer,” pointing to polio and measles as diseases with vaccines that have not been fully eradicated.

“You’ve got to be able to deliver that vaccine to a population that want and demand to have that vaccine,” he said.

Second waves ‘inevitable’

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has pointed to “green shoots of hope” in countries that had successfully clamped down on COVID-19, such as Rwanda and New Zealand, which says it plans to open a virus-free “travel bubble” with the Cook Islands.

But Wellington on Tuesday reported its first locally-transmitted coronavirus infections in more than 100 days.

“We have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, but added that “we have also planned and prepared for it.”

So far New Zealand has reported just 22 deaths from the COVID-19 disease, although authorities repeatedly warned a second wave was “inevitable”.

The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on Tuesday announced its first coronavirus lockdown after months largely shielded from the disease.

And in Europe, the EU’s health agency urged countries to reinstate some controls as new cases began to pick up again.

“There is a true resurgence in cases in several countries as a result of physical distancing measures being relaxed,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said.

France had already reacted by requiring mask-wearing in certain crowded areas and tourist hotspots of capital Paris.

Several French towns and cities have already introduced similar measures, as well as parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain.

There was better news for residents of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, as the enclave’s only border crossing with Egypt was opened to people wanting to leave for the first time since the pandemic began.

But some residents were fearful of leaving the tightly-sealed territory, which has seen just 81 cases.

“There is a fear of being infected with COVID-19 in cars or buses in Egypt,” Hatem al-Mansi told AFP. “In Gaza, we don’t have that problem.”

‘Every day like my last’

In China, the city of Wuhan where the novel coronavirus first emerged is limping back towards normal after lockdowns were lifted in April.

Business is slow for stall owners at food markets, while a pandemic-themed exhibition shows off autographed hazmat suits used by medical workers.

China officially recorded around 85,000 cases and just over 4,600 deaths — a fraction of the world’s total — and has now largely brought its domestic virus spread under control.

Despite fears of a resurgence, some Wuhan residents are keen to enjoy the city’s recovery.

“Now I enjoy every day as if it were the last,” says Hu Fenglian. “I don’t want to worry too much.”

 

Facebook Comments
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World news

Environmental Protection And The Road To 2035

Avatar

Published

on

I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here’s what I’m watching:

The critical importance of environmental protection in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and in the country’s long-range, 15-year roadmap to 2035, when China intends to become, basically, a fully modernized, socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, cultural, advanced, harmonious and beautiful.

But a country cannot claim to be “beautiful” if its air, water and soil is severely polluted.

No amount of economic development is worth the cost of environmental degradation. Sustainable development is an absolute requirement for China to achieve its national goals.

In a recent meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, the Party’s most important policy-setting authority, CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping set as one of the four reform priorities for 2021, “promoting the shift to green development.”

In the past, the Chinese government always lauded the ideals of a clean environment, but when actual enterprises polluted, there were obstacles in making them stop: local officials were more concerned about GDP growth rates to bolster their careers, and corruption and bribery could divert or halt the enforcement.

Moreover, when enterprises were caught polluting, even when egregious, the fines were extremely low, a small fraction of what it would cost to stop the polluting. In fact, the fines were so tiny that they were, in essence, a financial incentive to continue to pollute!

No longer.

Officials at all levels, along with enterprise executives, now know that the new costs of polluting far outweigh the old benefits: financial fines will be punitive and painful, and careers can be put in immediate jeopardy.

It takes only a few expensive examples for everyone to get the message. Credit President Xi for making the cost prohibitive and the message unambiguous.

One lens through which to view China’s environmental protection is that of the New Development Concepts, which drives the 14th Five-year Plan. Of the five Concepts, “green development”, at number three, is right in the middle.

Government directives call for breakthroughs.

By 2025, a marked rise in green industries, a continued drop in major pollutants, and a slashed carbon emission intensity; the industrial, energy, and transportation structures significantly optimized; the proportion of green industries increased significantly; and the quality of green infrastructure enhanced.By 2035, energy and resource utilization efficiency in key industries and for key products reaching world-class standards.

The directives also include:

promoting wind and solar power, and natural gas infrastructure; limiting new coal power capacity; mandatory clean production audits; controlling highly polluting and energy-intensive products; local subsidies to stimulate green consumption; reducing food waste; and improved waste classification. But specific targets are not yet specified. They need to be – and I expect they will be.

I’m keeping watch. I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn.

Scriptwriter: Robert Lawrence Kuhn

Facebook Comments
Continue Reading

World news

Xi Jinping Announces China’s Eradication Of Extreme Poverty

Avatar

Published

on

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s eradication of extreme poverty at a national commendation conference held in Beijing on Thursday.

With such achievements, China has created another “miracle” that will “go down in history,” Xi said. “Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor.”

Xi put forward the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation” in November 2013 during an inspection tour of central China’s Hunan Province.

Focus on poverty eradication in country’s governance 

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has been working to improve people’s livelihood since its foundation, and the CPC Central Committee has kept poverty eradication at a prominent position in the country’s governance over the past eight years, Xi said.

More than 10 million impoverished people were lifted out of poverty on average each year since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012.

During these eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line were lifted out of poverty. All the 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 impoverished villages have been removed from the poverty list.

In addition, 770 million rural residents have shaken off poverty since the beginning of reform and opening-up over 40 years ago, when calculated as per the current poverty line, Xi said.

Reviewing China’s effort over the past eight years, Xi said the country totally invested fiscal funds of nearly 1.6 trillion yuan (about $246 billion) into poverty alleviation and adopted a targeted poverty alleviation strategy, striving to eradicate poverty through development.

Meanwhile, over 1,800 workers lost lives for the country’s cause of poverty alleviation, Xi added.

‘China example’ of poverty reduction

“The country has created a ‘China example’ of poverty reduction and made great contributions to global poverty alleviation,” Xi said.

China met the poverty eradication target set in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and according to the World Bank’s international poverty line, the number of Chinese people lifted out of poverty over the past 40 years accounts for more than 70 percent of the global total, Xi noted.

Facebook Comments
Continue Reading

World news

Targeted Poverty Alleviation – The Chinese Path To Fighting Poverty

Avatar

Published

on

A total of 832 counties, 128,000 villages and nearly 100 million people were living in poverty. This was the reality that China had to face. The task of providing support to them all wasn’t easy, and making sure that everyone receives the exact help they needed was even harder.

“Who were these people and where were they located? If you are intent on leaving no one behind, then you have to locate each and every one of them and tailor relief measures accordingly,” said Lin Wanlong, professor of economics and management at China Agriculture University.

In November 2013, during an inspection tour of central China’s Hunan, Chinese President Xi Jinping first raised the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation.” To crystalize it, he said one should “seek truth from facts, tailor measures to suit local conditions, give targeted guidance, and be meticulous about the work.” These points have become the guiding principle in China’s fight against poverty.

Workers make brooms at a poverty alleviation workshop in Huade County of Ulanqab, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, April 11, 2020. /Xinhua

The first step of the targeted poverty alleviation campaign is to locate poverty through accurate identification, which means specifying survey data by matching it with individuals and households. Are there any better-off families in impoverished counties? Are there any poor households in rich townships? How does one differentiate whether a family really needs help? These were the first challenges that the campaign had to overcome.

“When I was just assigned to the township, I was informed that there were over 2,300 households and about 8,000 people living in poverty. But nobody knew who exactly they were,” said Zhu Shengjiang, head of Yeping Town in Jiangxi Province’s Ruijin City.

In a township of over 70,000 people, a poor population of over 8,000 was scattered among 399 villager groups. Zhu and his colleagues had to go door-to-door and look meticulously into their respective family conditions. Once poverty is identified, they would set up file for the households and log their information onto system.

Screenshot shows the digitally-stored information of impoverished individuals. /CGTN

The ultimate aim of poverty alleviation is to ensure people don’t have to worry about food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing. Commonly known as the “two assurances and three guarantees,” these are the key indicators for poverty relief officials to identify who exactly needs help.

“In each household, we look at things like whether there is sufficient working capacity, whether the child is receiving education and whether all family members are healthy. If the answer is no in all these categories, then we have found a household that really needs help,” said Zeng Nenggui, director of poverty relief office in Ruijin City.

The launching of a national digital database has enabled data to cover each and every registered village, household and individual, which not only ensures the accuracy of poverty identification but helps nail down the causes of poverty for those who are in the system.

“These households are like a benchmark. What we do is to analyze their conditions and come up with tailor-made measures to lift them out of poverty,” said Lu Chunsheng, director of the Information Center of the National Bureau of Rural Development. “For example, if a family remains poor because they couldn’t receive proper education, our relief measures should include granting student loans and subsidies. If poverty is caused by a family member’s poor health conditions, we then should provide them with sufficient healthcare.”

Prescribing the right remedy is the key. Under President Xi’s guidance, the targeted poverty alleviation campaign has five key measures.

Development & Production

All 832 registered counties have formulated industrial plans to fight against poverty, with over 300,000 industrial bases in farming, planting and processing being constructed on site.

Relocation

More than 96 million registered people have moved into over 2.66 million newly constructed houses, all equipped with water, electricity, gas and internet. Transportation is convenient with better roads built.

Screenshot shows houses that were built to take in impoverished households. /CGTN

Ecological compensation

Over 1.1 million registered people have been employed as ecological forest rangers, directly lifting a total of 3 million out of poverty.

Education

About 200,000 students who dropped out of school due to poverty have now returned to school. More than 8 million students from poor families who failed to continue their studies or get employed after finishing high school have received vocational education for free.

Screenshot shows students at school. /CGTN

Social security

Since 2016, a total of 19.36 million registered people have been included in the subsistence allowance, support and relief system.

To ensure that poverty is truly lifted, the strictest assessment system has been put in place. For each county to declare it has officially left poverty behind, it has to be thoroughly assessed by a third-party inspection team.

“We have never encountered such rigorous measures,” said Zhang Shibin, former director of the poverty alleviation office of Yunnan Province’s Luquan Yi and Miao Autonomous County. ” During the third-party inspection, village officials are not even allowed to follow these teams into the village.”

The targeted poverty alleviation campaign has perfectly embodied China’s practical and down-to-earth approach in battling poverty, opening up a path that accommodates the country’s realities while reflecting unique Chinese characteristics.

Facebook Comments
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 -2019