U.S. President Donald Trump has said a vaccine against Covid-19 could be available within a month – an already surprisingly optimistic acceleration of his own predictions – but added that the pandemic could also end from itself due to mass immunization.
“We are very close to a vaccine,” he said during a question and answer session at a Pennsylvania town hall with voters on ABC News.
US President Donald Trump announced that a White House employee was tested positive for the new coronavirus, but that it was never “close” to it, Reuters reports.
“This is not a person I was associated with,” a White House resident told a news conference Wednesday.
This case, confirmed by covid-19, “did not affect” the event organized on Tuesday during the signing of the agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the two Arab countries. Persian Gulf spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany assured the White House.
But David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s special envoy for COVID-19, told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee that the coronavirus pandemic is just “beginning” and could get worse as the second wave is developing in Europe. Nabarro pointed out that the pandemic has “gotten out of control” and now risks leading to a “much worse” economic contraction than any science fiction film.
“It’s a terrible situation. A health problem has gotten out of hand and is causing the world not only to enter a recession, but also a huge economic contraction, which would probably double the number of poor people, double the number of the malnourished and lead to the bankruptcy of hundreds of people. millions of small companies, ”he warned.
“It’s much worse than any sci-fi movie about pandemics. This is really serious – we haven’t even reached the middle of the pandemic. We are still at the beginning and we are beginning to see what damage it will cause to the world. And it gets worse as we enter this phase in Europe, where cases are growing again, “said Nabarro.
His remarks came in response to a question from Labor MP Chris Bryant, who wanted to know what he should say to people who believe the coronavirus pandemic is just a big conspiracy.
“We have learned to live with the virus this year, we will understand it and we will be able to find solutions, but it will take us quite a long time,” the expert added.
A group of rich countries representing 13% of the world’s population has pre-purchased half of future doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to a report released Wednesday by the NGO Oxfam, reports AFP.
The logic of these countries is to procure as a precautionary measure from several competing producers, in the hope that at least one of their vaccines will prove effective. However, the Oxfam report highlights the difficulty that some people in the world will have in finding vaccines in the initial period, while the mechanism for global access to vaccines against COVID-19 (COVAX), supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), is boycotted by Washington and has no funding.
Since May, the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan and other countries, have signed numerous contracts that guarantee the production and delivery of vaccine doses in advance if ongoing clinical trials prove conclusive. Doses will be delivered in the US as early as October, so they can be ready for distribution within 24 hours of a possible health permit.
The British pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, a partner of Oxford University, has signed most of these contracts, but Sanofi, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, the Chinese laboratory Sinovac and the Russian institute Gamaleia have also pre-sold hundreds of millions of doses worldwide, sometimes in the form of partnerships with local producers.
According to Oxfam, contracts have already been signed with five of these manufacturers in the third phase of clinical trials for 5.3 billion doses, of which 51% for developed countries, including those mentioned, as well as Australia, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Israel. (Figures do not include contracts for vaccines that are not yet in the third phase of testing).
The rest was promised to developing countries, including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, according to Oxfam.
The United States, with a population of 330 million, has reserved a total of 800 million doses from six manufacturers, and the European Union (450 million inhabitants) has purchased at least 1.5 billion doses, according to a AFP balance sheet.
“Vital access to vaccines should not depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman of Oxfam.
Public health experts have proposed several ways of global distribution: WHO would like to provide each country with enough to vaccinate 20% of its population; a group of ethicists have suggested prioritizing the countries where the virus kills the most.
But the United States has said it intends to provide the vaccine to all its inhabitants, not just the vulnerable and the elderly.
This type of “vaccine nationalism” was denounced by several health officials, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday morning.