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US: Fauci ‘cautiously’ optimistic 2021 will see COVID-19 vaccine | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Once a coronavirus vaccine is approved as safe and effective, Americans should have widespread access within a reasonable time, Dr Anthony Fauci assured United States legislators on Friday.

Appearing before a House panel investigating the nation’s response to the pandemic, Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH), expressed “cautious” optimism that a vaccine would be available, particularly by next year.

“I believe, ultimately, over a period of time in 2021, that Americans will be able to get it,” Fauci said, referring to the vaccine.

There will be a priority list for who gets early vaccinations. “I don’t think we will have everybody getting it immediately,” Fauci explained.

But “ultimately, within a reasonable time, the plans allow for any American who needs the vaccine to get it,” he added.

Under direction from the White House, federal health authorities are carrying out a plan dubbed Operation Warp Speed to manufacture 300 million doses of a vaccine on a compressed timeline.

A medical worker holds a small bottle labelled with a ‘Vaccine COVID-19’ sticker [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, said a quarter-million people have expressed interest in taking part in studies of experimental vaccines for the coronavirus.

He said 250,000 people have registered on a government website to take part in vaccine trials, which are pivotal for establishing safety and effectiveness. Not all patients who volunteer to take part in clinical trials are eligible to participate.

Fauci was joined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head Dr Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services testing tsar Brett Giroir.

Giroir acknowledged that currently, it is not possible for the US to return all coronavirus test results to patients in two to three days. He blamed overwhelming demand across the nation.

Many health experts say COVID-19 results are almost worthless when delivered after two or three days because by then the window for contact tracing has closed.

The latest government data shows about 75 percent of testing results are coming back within five days, but the remainder is taking longer, Giroir told legislators.

Rapid, widespread testing is critical to containing the coronavirus outbreak, but the US effort has been plagued by supply shortages and backlogs since the earliest days of the outbreak.

At a time when early progress seems to have been lost and uncertainty clouds the nation’s path forward, Fauci, Giroir and Redfield are calling on Americans to go back to public health basics such as social distancing and wearing masks.

The panel, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, is divided on how to reopen schools and businesses, mirroring divisions among Americans. Committee Chairman Representative James Clyburn said the White House must come up with a comprehensive national plan to contain the virus. Ranking Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana said the Trump administration already has plans on vaccines, testing, nursing homes and other coronavirus-related issues.

Fauci Washington Nationals mask

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adjusting his face mask during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US [File: Al Drago/Pool via Reuters]

A rebound of cases across the South and the West has dashed hopes for a quick return to normal life. Problems with the availability and timeliness of testing continue to be reported. And the race for a vaccine, though progressing rapidly, has yet to deliver a breakthrough.

Fauci’s public message in recent days has been that Americans cannot afford a devil-may-care attitude towards COVID-19 and need to double down on basic measures such as wearing masks in public, keeping their distance from others and avoiding crowds and indoor spaces such as bars. That is echoed by Redfield and Giroir, though they are far less prominent.

Fauci’s dogged persistence has drawn the ire of some of President Donald Trump’s supporters and prompted a new round of calls for his firing. But the veteran of battles against AIDS and Ebola has stuck to his message, while carefully avoiding open confrontations with the Trump White House.

Earlier this week, Fauci said he was “disturbed” by the flat-out opposition in parts of the country to wearing masks as a public health protective measure.

“There are certain fundamentals,” he said, “the staples of what you need to do … one is universal wearing of masks.”

Public health experts say masks help prevent an infected person who has yet to develop symptoms from passing the virus to others. For mask wearers, there is also some evidence that they can offer a degree of protection from an infected person nearby.

Fauci said he is concerned because the US has not followed the track of Asian and European nations also hit hard by the coronavirus.

Other countries that shut down their economies knocked back uncontrolled spread and settled into a pattern of relatively few new cases, although they continued to experience local outbreaks.

The US also knocked back the initial spread, but it never got the background level of new cases quite as low. And the resurgence of COVID-19 in the Sunbelt in recent weeks has driven the number of new daily cases back up into the 60,000-70,000 range. It coincided with economic reopening and a return to social gatherings, particularly among younger adults. Growing numbers of emergency room visits, hospitalisations and deaths have followed as grim consequences.

Florida

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) wheeling a patient to Hialeah Hospital where coronavirus disease patients are treated, in Hialeah, Florida, US [Marco Bello/Reuters] 

Nearly 4.5 million Americans have been infected since the start of the pandemic, and more than 150,000 have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci said there is evidence the surge across the South may be peaking, but upticks in the Midwest are now a concern.

“They’ve really got to jump all over that because if they don’t then you might see the surge we saw in some of the Southern states,” he said.

Though Fauci gets push-back from White House officials, other medical experts in the administration are on the same page when it comes to the public health message.

Giroir, the testing tsar, told reporters on Thursday: “I think it’s very important to make sure that we all spread the public health message that we can control all the outbreaks occurring right now.”

He said controlling the outbreaks will require people to wear masks, avoid crowded indoor spaces and wash their hands frequently.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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