Connect with us

News

COVID vaccine scarcity and fake doses hamper efforts in Americas | Latin America News

Published

on


Amid a limited supply of vaccines, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across the Americas, PAHO officials said.

Amid a scramble to secure enough coronavirus vaccines in the Americas, there are reports of fake doses proliferating on the black market in several countries in the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

“We have received some information from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil that some doses have been offered through social media, illegal markets offering vaccines that probably are falsified,” Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of PAHO said during a weekly news conference.

“They are not real vaccines or maybe they are stolen doses from a health facility that no one can assure that they were properly stored,” Barbosa said.

A woman receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, during a vaccination day campaign in Duque de Caxias near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer had identified counterfeit vaccines in Mexico and in Poland. According to the report, 80 people in Mexico had been jabbed with fake doses in a clinic, after paying $1,000 per dose.

According to the report, the people who received the fake vaccines were not adversely affected. Citing authorities, the report said in Poland the fake vaccines were seized before they were administered.

During Wednesday’s news conference, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said the organisation was also concerned about vaccine hesitancy. She said “insidious rumours and conspiracy theories” were “inspiring fear and costing lives”.

She said PAHO was working with tech companies to tackle misinformation that has quickly proliferated on the internet and on social media sites.

“Because unreliable information spreads quickly, PAHO is collaborating with tech companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook to address fake news and ensure the public can easily find accurate information,” she said.

The reports of fake vaccines and vaccine hesitancy in the Americas came amid a scarce supply of vaccines in the region, and a rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Brazil has so far vaccinated 11.6 percent of its population and Mexico has vaccinated 8.7 percent. Other nations in the region are lagging behind [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

“Latin America is the region that currently has the greatest need for vaccines,” Etienne said, “this region should be prioritised for distribution of vaccines.”

“No one will be safe until we are all safe.”

Nearly half of the world’s coronavirus deaths during the weekend were in the Americas, Etienne said, adding that nearly every country in Central America is reporting a rise in infections. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, she said were the worst hit.

“Over the weekend, the world reached a tragic milestone – more than three million have lost their lives to COVID, and nearly half of these deaths happened right here in the Americas,” Etienne said.

Chile is seeing a plateau in cases, while Brazil is reporting a drop. But despite the drop, Etienne said, cases in Brazil “remain alarmingly high.” Argentina ranked third regionally in the weekly number of new cases. Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay were also seeing a worsening. And Mexico, after weeks of decline in new cases, is seeing a slight increase.

Regionally, the United States and Chile have made the most progress in their vaccination campaigns – both have vaccinated about 40 percent of their population – according to Our World in Data.

Uruguay has inoculated more than 30 percent of its population while Brazil has so far vaccinated 11.6 percent and Mexico has vaccinated about 8.7 percent. Other nations in the region are lagging behind.

During the news briefing, officials said most of the region’s countries are relying on the global COVAX mechanism, which aims to equitably distribute vaccines to developing nations.

Etienne said more than 4.2 million vaccine doses have so far been supplied to 29 countries in the Americas through COVAX, and more doses are on the way.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

News

France asks police to ban pro-Palestinian protest in Paris | Gaza News

Published

on

By


France’s interior minister has asked police to ban a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris this weekend against the recent escalation of Israeli air raids in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza and crackdowns in the occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.

“I have asked the Paris police chief to ban the protests on Saturday linked to the recent tensions in the Middle East,” Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

“Serious disturbances to the public order were noted in 2014,” he said, referring to protests against an Israeli offensive on Gaza that year.

“Instructions were given to prefects to be particularly vigilant and firm,” he added.

Activists had called the protest in the Barbes district of northern Paris to demonstrate against Israel’s intensifying aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

More than 100 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 27 children, according to the enclave’s health authorities, and more than 580 others wounded after heavy Israeli attacks.

At least six Israelis and one Indian national have been killed in Israel from rocket attacks by Hamas, the governing political entity in Gaza.

The escalation in violence came after weeks of tensions in occupied East Jerusalem about a scheduled court ruling on the forced expulsion of several Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

In a circular seen by the AFP news agency, Darmanin also urged local police chiefs to assure the “protection of places of worship, schools, cultural centres and businesses of the Jewish community”.

Several demonstrations took place in France during July 2014 to denounce an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

On July 19, 2014, several thousand protesters defied a ban on a demonstration at Barbes and the rally rapidly degenerated into violence that lasted for hours.

‘Demonstrating is a right’

The announcement by Darmanin was criticised by activists and politicians who said there was no reason to cancel the protests.

“Demonstrating is a right that you should be the guarantor of,” Member of French Parliament Elsa Faucillon said in a tweet in reply to Darmanin.

“And in this case, given the silence of our country on the reasons for the attacks, it even seems a duty to me!”

Sihame Assbague, a journalist based in Paris, said Darmanin’s decision to ban pro-Palestine protest was for two reasons, including that “there is French colonial solidarity with the Israeli occupation forces”.

“You do not support anti-colonial political mobilisations,” she added.

The head of the Committee for Justice and Liberties Yasser Louati told Al Jazeera from Paris that “we will march whether [French President Emmanuel] Macron and Darmanin like it or not”.

“Palestinians have the right to exist and to defend themselves. If they can resist bombs and ethnic cleansing, we can sustain tear gas and arrest for them,” Louati, who is also the host of the podcast Le Breakdown, said.

Solidarity group president arrested

On Wednesday, French authorities arrested the president of Palestinian solidarity group Association France-Palestine Solidarite (AFPS), who was planning to organise a peaceful rally in Paris.

Bertrand Heilbronn was arrested after attending a meeting at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. He was accompanied by members of parliament and union representatives, according to a statement by the AFPS.

The solidarity group had called for a demonstration on Wednesday in support of the Palestinians.

On Thursday, AFPS announced that Heilbronn had been released.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

Continue Reading

News

Ontario, Canada to keep ban on outdoor recreation for two weeks | Coronavirus pandemic News

Published

on

By


‘Stay-at-home’ order extended to at least June 2, as COVID cases rise in Ontario.

Ontario’s premier is keeping outdoor recreational activities like golf courses closed for at least two more weeks despite calls by health officials to resume them for physical and mental health.

Premier Doug Ford on Thursday extended what he calls a “stay-at-home” order for Canada’s largest province until at least June 2.

Retail stores are open for curbside pickup and highways and roads are busy, but restaurants – including outdoor patios – are closed, as are in-class schooling and gyms. Most non-essential workers are working from home amid a third wave of coronavirus infections fuelled by variants.

The Ontario Medical Association released a statement this week stressing the importance of outdoor recreational facilities such as golf courses, tennis and basketball courts in improving physical and mental health. Golf Ontario started a campaign called “LetUsPlay”. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America where golf is not allowed.

“There’s nothing wrong with golfing. The problem is the mobility, then after golf they have a few pops. That’s the problem,” Ford said.

But Dr Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease scientist at the University of Toronto, said he is still frustrated about limiting outdoor activities. “These are safe & should be encouraged,” Bogoch tweeted.

Dr Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, agreed.

“I think everyone shares these sentiments: 1 Don’t open up yet – get numbers down and vaccines in arms 2. Open up outdoors,” Morris tweeted.

A backlash from police, health experts and the public last month prompted Ford to retract restrictions that closed playgrounds and allowed police to require anyone not at home to explain why they are out.

Vaccinations have ramped up in Canada, with at least 50 percent of eligible adults in Toronto having received at least one dose. The province expects 65 percent of those eligible in Ontario to have at least one dose by the end of the month.

Ford said infection numbers are slowly trending in the right direction and said the goal is for Ontario to have “the most normal July and August as possible”. Ontario reported more than 2,700 cases on Thursday.

“We just can’t open up too quickly,” Ford said.

Ford earlier had tried to open up activities despite warnings from health experts, and then quickly closed things back down as infections spiked.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

Continue Reading

News

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of new territorial ‘infiltration’ | Conflict News

Published

on

By


Azerbaijan dismisses the accusations, saying it was enforcing its own border and is committed to easing tensions.

Armenia’s leader has accused Azerbaijani troops of crossing the southern border and trying to stake claim to territory in a new escalation of tensions between the regional foes.

Nikol Pashinyan, the country’s acting prime minister, convened an emergency meeting of his security council on Thursday, saying Azerbaijan’s army had advanced more than three kilometres (two miles) into southern Armenia.

He said their neighbour was trying to “lay siege” to Lake Sev Lich that is shared by the two countries.

“It is an encroachment on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia,” Pashinyan said. “This is an act of subversive infiltration.”

He said Armenian soldiers had responded with “appropriate tactical manoeuvres” but stressed that the latest tensions should be settled through negotiations.

Armenia’s defence ministry said the Armenian side stopped Azerbaijan’s advance and forced its troops to return to their positions.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry dismissed the accusations late on Thursday, saying Azerbaijan was enforcing its own border and is committed to easing tensions in the region.

It called Armenia’s reaction to the developments “inadequate” and “provocative”, adding that Azerbaijan’s officials were was in talks with Armenian border guards.

Six-week conflict

Last year, Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The six-week conflict claimed about 6,000 lives and ended after Armenia ceded swaths of territory it had controlled for decades.

The United States – one of the three nations in the so-called “Minsk Group” that leads diplomacy on Nagorno-Karabakh – said on Thursday it was “closely following” the rising tensions.

“We understand communication between the parties is ongoing and urge restraint in de-escalating the situation peacefully,” State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter.

Pashinyan has been under tremendous pressure for his handling of the conflict. He resigned in April while staying on in a caretaker capacity, setting the stage for a June 20 parliamentary election aimed at defusing the political crisis at home.

Moscow brokered a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan but tensions persist.

Last month, Yerevan and Baku traded accusations of opening fire in Karabakh and along their shared border.

Ethnic Armenian separatists declared independence for Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and seized control of the mountainous enclave in a brutal war in the 1990s that left tens of thousands dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

Continue Reading

Trending