New US President Joe Biden on Friday ordered more aid to Americans struggling with the pandemic in the world‘s hardest-hit country as international deals won cheaper tests and vaccines for millions in less affluent countries.
The Biden government increased stimulus handouts and payments to help families buy groceries. More and more poor American children were starving because they previously relied on school meals – now closed due to Covid-19.
“The American people cannot afford to wait,” said Brian Deese of the White House National Economic Council, adding that many people are “hanging by a thread.”
All over the world there was new evidence of the depth of the damage that was being done to the economy. The closely watched PMI index shows that Europe is heading for a new recession and Latin America is suffering the steepest decline in foreign trade since the global financial crisis.
– Hungarian uprising –
As vaccine adoption gains momentum globally, Hungary announced it would go it alone and buy two million doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, thwarted by the European Union’s unwieldy strategy of buying bulk shots on behalf of members.
“It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse,” Orban said of the different vaccines, although some experts were concerned that Sputnik V was introduced before large-scale clinical trials.
Brazil, meanwhile, was due to receive two million doses of another vaccine developed by the UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The World Health Organization has repeatedly warned that richer countries will devour the vaccine.
However, there was good news for poorer countries on Friday when the WHO and pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced a contract to provide up to 40 million starting doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine through the global Covax pool.
“We can only end the pandemic everywhere if we end it everywhere,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
A separate deal brokered by international agencies working with WHO will deliver tens of millions of rapid antigen tests to developing countries for half the usual price of $ 5.
– Imams support vaccination campaigns –
In the UK, imams used their Friday sermons to reassure believers that coronavirus vaccines are safe and used their clout in Muslim communities to support the vaccination campaign.
“The hesitation, fear (and) concern stem from misinformation, conspiracy theories, false news and rumors,” said Qari Asim, chairman of the National Advisory Board of British Mosques and Imams.
The Imams’ campaign comes as the UK struggles to restrict a new strain of Covid-19 that the government warned on Friday that it is not only more contagious, but potentially more deadly.
Government chief scientist Patrick Vallance said the exposure could be 30 to 40 percent more deadly for some age groups, but stressed that the assessment was based on sparse data.
The British variety and the variants discovered for the first time in South Africa and Brazil lead to a tightening of travel restrictions, since Belgium does not prohibit travel abroad that is not absolutely necessary.
Denmark, meanwhile, banned all flights from the United Arab Emirates and said it had to make sure the testing regime in Dubai was strict enough.
– Rio Carnival canceled –
And from music to sports, the organizers of major events are grappling with the ongoing consequences of Covid-19. Rio de Janeiro’s famous carnival is canceled for this year.
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane became the youngest sports star to test positive while former tennis world champion Andy Murray announced he will not compete in the Australian Open after failing to “work in quarantine” on his own recovery from the virus had found.
In Japan, the organizers of the Olympic Games in Tokyo – which have already been postponed from 2020 – are faced almost daily with the question of whether the Games can really take place in July.
However, the Japanese government insisted that there was “no truth” in a media report stating that “the consensus is that it is too difficult” to hold the Games in 2021.
– Techno music, exposed –
But at the Super Monkey nightclub in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where Covid-19 first appeared in 2019, virus worries for the masses of night owls were worlds away.
After passing a temperature control on the door, they were greeted inside, where there were glowing bunny ears, pulsing techno beats, champagne on ice, and a flexible attitude to masks.
“I was stuck in the house for two or three months,” said a man in his thirties who gave his name when Xu told AFP. “Now I can go out in complete peace.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)