China Rejects Biden’s Investigation for Covid19 Origins As Africa Urgently Needs 20 Million AstraZeneca doses - Richard Oyamo reports Tuesday, 1 June 2021
As of last Thursday, the global tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases was 168 million. This comes after various states engage in global investigations on the origin of the coronavirus. As the cases continue to rise, with a few uncertainties surrounding the virus's possibilities to end, there is massive disruption of economic and social activities around the world. However, it seems the U.S is not ready to back off on its efforts to solve the riddle behind the origin of the virus.
On Wednesday, U.S president Joe Biden asked his intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts and machinery to determine the exact cause of the Covid-19 pandemic. The agencies have to report to him in 90 days with nothing but the good news. Remember, the first Covid-19 case was reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Since then, the U.S investigative agencies have managed to trace two possible causes of the pandemic, but have not yet reached a definitive conclusion.
Biden has also asked China to fully participate in the full, transparent, and evidence-based international investigation and also allow access to all relevant data and evidence. This is after the renewed concerns about the virus coming from a laboratory in Wuhan.
However, Biden's order was harshly opposed by China, with its Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, terming the U.S efforts as politics.
To defend the statement, Zhao Lijian said Biden’s statement proves that the U.S is not interested in the actual scientific research and does not care about the facts surrounding the pandemic. Zhao also asked U.S to act as China and cooperate with WHO to trace the origin of the virus scientifically. For instance, a WHO delegation traveled to China earlier this year to determine the origin of the pandemic following rumors that the virus came from an animal in a wet market in Wuhan, possibly a rat. However, no definitive results were obtained.
In Other News
According to data generated by Johns Hopkins University, the global cumulative deaths resulting from the outbreak are 3.5 million. To curb the effects, the U.S Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of an antibody developed by GlaxoSmithKline PLC GSK, -0.57% GSK, -0.98% and Vir Biotechnology Inc. VIR, -5.59% in mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults and pediatric patients at a higher risk of severe illness, including hospitalization and deaths. The antibody causes an 85% reduction in hospitalizations and death. It is also effective against all known variations, including the emerging Indian variant, says Vir CEO George Scangos.
With all other antibodies developed by different research companies, however, the vaccine supply in African remains a concern. The supply shortages have been called repeatedly by the WHO but positive changes are yet to be seen. For example, Sudan has so far vaccinated only 0.2% of its population, as per the Thursday report. Therefore, to help limit the spread of the virus, Africa urgently needs 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next six weeks. This is only meant to give the second dose to people who have received the first dose within the recommended 8 to 12 weeks interval.
Besides, a WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, suggested in the agency’s annual meeting this week that another 200 million doses of any vaccine available are urgently needed by Africa to vaccinate 10% of its population by September. As of Thursday, Africa has only administered 28 million vaccine doses, equal to less than 2 per 100 people.
The Only Hope
According to Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, a WHO Regional Director for Africa, dose-sharing is the only urgent, critical, and short-term solution to Africans at a higher risk of Covid-19. There should be no pause in the vaccination campaigns lest more lives and hope will be lost. Of course, Africa needs more vaccines now than ever before. Therefore, to help bring back the lost hope and switch back to normal life, more and better Covid-19 vaccines are needed to reach at least 70% of the world’s population.
(Written and edited by: Richard Oyamo)