The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic reached one million world-wide on Monday, as several nations continue to struggle to contain a virus that has overloaded health-care systems, upended economies and remade daily life around the globe.
Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is killing on average more than 700 people a day in the U.S., which leads the world in both confirmed cases and deaths. With more than seven million confirmed infections since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. accounts for nearly a fifth…
The leader of a global campaign to prevent tuberculosis has been accused of bullying and harassing employees, and creating a poisonous work environment especially for people of color, according to interviews with current and former staff members and internal documents obtained by The New York Times.
Since 2011, at least seven employees have filed formal complaints against Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of Stop TB, a global partnership of 1,700 groups focused on preventing tuberculosis, The Times has found. The documents describe a leader who insulted and screamed obscenities at employees; made racially and sexually inappropriate jokes and comments; and threatened punitive action against anyone who complained about her behavior.
Stop TB is focused on preventing more than a million deaths from tuberculosis each year, primarily in Africa and Asia. With an annual operating budget of $100 million, provided by donors like the United States Agency for International Development and the World Bank, the partnership is the leading organization in the fight against tuberculosis, still the world’s largest infectious disease killer.
The accusations of misconduct against Dr. Ditiu threaten to paralyze the partnership and upend the worldwide campaign to control TB at a perilous moment. Many experts fear that progress against the disease has stalled as lockdowns to stop the coronavirus have interrupted care and deliveries of medicines for tuberculosis patients in Africa and Asia.
Dr. Ditiu, a public health expert from Romania, has led Stop TB’s staff of roughly 80 people since 2011. The partnership is hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services, an arm of the U.N. But Stop TB answers primarily to its board.
Under her leadership, the workplace environment deteriorated to a remarkable extent, documents and interviews show. Stop TB set out to promote an event in Mexico with an image of Speedy Gonzales, the main character of a cartoon series long criticized for offensive stereotypes of Mexicans, according to internal emails obtained by The Times. A manager circulated an email with a picture of his son in blackface, “picking cotton and being a slave.”
The documents allege that at a recent staff birthday gathering, Dr. Ditiu boasted that she had slipped a racial and sexual slur into her speech at a global health conference, on a dare from other public health officials. In May, on a video call, Dr. Ditiu suggested that the staff take “sex classes” during the lockdown, according to a complaint by one participant.
Dr. Ditiu did not respond to requests for comment.
UNOPS and the World Health Organization, also an agency of the United Nations — and which oversaw Stop TB until 2014 — have investigated multiple complaints against Dr. Ditiu, but she does not seem to have been disciplined beyond having to enroll in classes and work with a behavioral coach.
The partnership departed the W.H.O. six years ago, and officials declined to comment on relations with Stop TB during its tenure.
UNOPS’s own investigation “did not identify wrongdoing or misconduct to the level requiring termination,” according to a spokesman.
But in June the organization was “informed of further details of historic incidents within the StopTB partnership which do not demonstrate the values of integrity, inclusion, respect and tolerance that are non-negotiable at UNOPS.”
“Events in this case fell short of our commitment to a respectful, inclusive working environment,” UNOPS said in a statement to The Times.
Stop TB’s own board launched a new investigation in July after additional allegations of misconduct, according to Joanne Carter, the board’s vice chair. “Any racism or toxicity in the workplace is unacceptable, and we are absolutely committed to ensuring a safe and equitable work environment,” Dr. Carter said.
USAID, Stop TB’s biggest donor, did not comment on the allegations, but said in a statement that it expects all of its partners to “ensure a safe and ethical work environment in which each person is respected and valued.”
Some global health experts were dismayed to hear of the complaints against Dr. Ditiu. “If she’s done these things, it’s hard to see how she can remain in a leadership position,” said Helen Jenkins, a TB expert at Boston University.
But some researchers said losing Dr. Ditiu would be a blow to the global effort against TB because she was instrumental in modernizing the approach to prevention and treatment, and in persuading governments to fund programs.
“It’s completely heartbreaking because, you know, she broke the mold of that ossified leadership that we’ve seen in TB for so many decades,” said Gregg Gonsalves, a global health expert at Yale University.
Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee, a global health expert at Harvard University, said he had heard Dr. Ditiu “publicly make jokes that I wouldn’t make,” but described her as someone who shook up the stodgy TB world and made it more inclusive of smaller organizations from resource-poor countries.
“If this were to hurt what they’re doing, it’s going to have repercussions on thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” he said.
Dr. Mario Raviglione, former director of the Global TB Program at the W.H.O., was Dr. Ditiu’s administrative supervisor from 2011 to 2014. In practice, he said in an interview, he had no authority over her.
He said he knew of at least three people during that time, and had heard of as many as a dozen, who had complained about Dr. Ditiu’s offensive language and behavior, which prompted the W.H.O.’s internal investigation.
“It was very difficult — very difficult time, very difficult situation,” Dr. Raviglione said. “We were all relieved when the partnership left W.H.O., because then we would avoid the cycle of internal conflict.”
Dr. Raviglione stayed on the Stop TB board after the split, but stepped down in November 2017.
UNOPS has hosted Stop TB since 2015, but cannot terminate Dr. Ditiu without the agreement of the board. But board members are too close to Dr. Ditiu to discipline her, Dr. Raviglione and others told The Times.
The W.H.O.’s report on Dr. Ditiu’s conduct, for example, was shared with the board, but “it disappeared, as far as I know,” Dr. Raviglione said. “This board did not have a mechanism at all for evaluation of the executive director.”
Current and former employees and consultants who spoke to The Times or provided information asked to remain anonymous, saying they were afraid of repercussions for their careers.
People consulting with U.N.-linked organizations often have contracts that can be canceled with a month’s notice, so they remain silent even when mistreated, said one former employee of Stop TB.
Colleen Daniels joined Stop TB in early 2015 as a human rights adviser. In August of that year, her supervisor, Jacob Creswell, sent an email to the staff with photographs of his son in blackface, along with adults with faces painted red and dressed in Native American garb. One photograph includes a Confederate flag at full mast and a noose.
The boy was “in blackface picking cotton and being a slave at the local spectac at his farm camp. He was very excited,” Dr. Creswell wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Times.
When Ms. Daniels, a Black woman from South Africa, complained that the photographs were racist, Dr. Creswell replied, “Yes — that is why I was shocked to see my kids in that — would never happen in the US,” according to an email he shared with The Times.
Dr. Creswell, who told The Times that his wife is a woman of color, said he apologized in person for sending the photographs. Ms. Daniels said he did not and that his response amounted to hasty backtracking.
Shortly after the incident, according to Ms. Daniels, Dr. Ditiu and Dr. Creswell began excluding her from important meetings and trips.
“Eventually, it just got so bad,” said Ms. Daniels, who added that “white people on the team stopped talking to me.”
In September 2017, Stop TB publicized an event in Mexico by featuring the cartoon character Speedy Gonzales. Dr. Ditiu dismissed Ms. Daniels’s protests that the image was offensive, internal emails show.
Dr. Ditiu agreed to change the image only after Erika Arthun, a deputy director at the Gates Foundation and a member of Stop TB’s executive committee, warned in an email that “the Mexican stereotype of Speedy Gonzalez for a conference in Mexico wasn’t well received.”
Ms. Arthun did not respond to a request for comment.
“Stop TB is supposed to speak on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized in the world, and the majority of them are Black and brown people,” Ms. Daniels said. “How can Stop TB ensure that brown and Black people are getting their voices heard if they’re marginalized in the organization?”
In February 2017, two Stop TB employees — a white man and a woman of color — complained to UNOPS that Dr. Ditiu had bullied them and created “an atmosphere of fear and anxiety” in the office.
Dr. Ditiu screamed expletives on the phone during the staff Christmas party, “and then scolded me because I had been unreachable by phone for 15 minutes whilst my phone was charging,” the man wrote in a complaint to UNOPS obtained by the Times.
Dr. Ditiu also told them that mistakes would result in “throats being slit,” and later said she had been joking, according to the complaint.
Both complainants declined requests for interviews. But in emails to UNOPS obtained by The Times, they also described episodes of retaliation, alleging that Dr. Ditiu held back their promotions and hinted to them and other employees that they would never be hired by any public health organization if they spoke out against her.
The emails indicate that Dr. Ditiu’s deputy, Dr. Suvanand Sahu, approached employees and offered them promotions in exchange for keeping quiet about the allegations. These accounts were confirmed to The Times by several current and former employees, and supported by internal emails and text messages between employees.
Dr. Sahu did not respond to requests for comment.
UNOPS launched an eight-month investigation into the allegations against Dr. Ditiu. In an email from April 2017 obtained by The Times, a UNOPS representative told the employees there was “a prima facie case” that their complaint had led to retaliation from Dr. Ditiu, particularly the withdrawal of promotions that had previously been promised to them.
In August 2017, Dr. Ditiu said in a meeting attended by 40 people that UNOPS was making her take classes to learn appropriate workplace language. According to people present at this meeting, she also said employees would find out soon whether they would be able to keep their jobs the next year — statements that some interpreted as a threat of retaliation.
Two months later, Dr. Ditiu was placed on probation for a period of 12 months and asked to meet with a behavioral coach once a month. She read aloud a scripted apology to the staff, and said she would step away from managerial duties.
But the board’s executive committee received an anonymous letter in November 2017 describing Dr. Ditiu’s continuing “abusive behavior” and saying that despite the probation, she was “bolder than ever.” (Some people suspected Ms. Daniels was the sender, but she denied it.)
In an email from January 2018 obtained by The Times, a UNOPS official told the employees who had complained about Dr. Ditiu that she had “admitted misconduct, and is in the process of improving the situation” so they should “start afresh” and “put some positive energy” into their relationships.
Ms. Daniels left StopTB in December 2017. In a letter to the board in June, she said she could no longer remain silent about the racism and bullying she had experienced. “I hope that your silence when you found about the bullying in 2017, won’t continue in 2020,” she wrote.
Findings from the board’s independent investigation are expected by the end of September.
The investigation comes at a delicate time for Stop TB. UNOPS has said that it does not share in the partnership’s “direction” and will no longer serve as its host, effective June 2021.
The U.S. announced Tuesday that it would not join an international coalition to find and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine worldwide due to the group’s association with the World Health Organization, the latest sign of the Trump administration withdrawing the country from the international health community’s response to the pandemic over political concerns.
Covax is co-led by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, which aims to purchase 2 billion doses of potential Covid-19 shots from several vaccine makers by the end of 2021 and distribute them worldwide.
The WHO announced last week that Covax plans to work with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved, and that 172 countries are engaged in discussions to potentially participate.
“The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House.
According to the Washington Post, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had “interest in exploring some type of role in Covax… but there was resistance in some corners of the government and a belief that the U.S. has enough coronavirus vaccine candidates in advanced clinical trials that it can go it alone.”
The World Health Organization has warned against “vaccine nationalism,” with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stating, “for the world to recover faster, it has to recover together, because it’s a globalized world: the economies are intertwined.”
After initially praising both China and the WHO at the pandemic’s outset, President Donald Trump sharply reversed course. In early April, Trump blasted the World Health Organization, saying they “called it wrong” on the virus, that the WHO was “very China-centric” in its approach, and froze U.S. funding to the organization. “They should have known and they probably did know,” Trump said of World Health Organization officials, suggesting the group had gone along with China’s efforts to downplay the severity of the outbreak. In July, the administration sent a letter signaling its intent to withdraw from the WHO. “When the U.S. says it is not going to participate in any sort of multilateral effort to secure vaccines, it’s a real blow,” said Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. “The behavior of countries when it comes to vaccines in this pandemic will have political repercussions beyond public health.”
“Equal access to a COVID-19 vaccine is the key to beating the virus and paving the way for recovery from the pandemic,” said Stefan Löfven, the prime minister of Sweden. “This cannot be a race with a few winners, and the COVAX Facility is an important part of the solution – making sure all countries can benefit from access to the world’s largest portfolio of candidates and fair and equitable distribution of vaccine doses.”
Global stocks rose on Monday after US authorities issued an “emergency use authorization” for the use of blood plasma to treat COVID-19.
Investors looked past the rising number of new coronavirus infections in Europe, and chose to focus instead on signals from the US that it could deliver a vaccine soon.
President Trump’s administration is mulling speeding up the availability of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine from the UK ahead of the November 3 presidential election, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.Advertisement
The vaccine candidate is under development by AstraZeneca in coordination with scientists from the University of Oxford, but falls short of the number of participants usually required for
Trump said the FDA’s approval to use convalescent plasma is a “breakthrough” in the treatment of coronavirus, despite it still being unclear whether the treatment actually works.
“Donald Trump was in danger of undermining sentiment as he once again labelled COVID-19 as the ‘China virus’ during the announcement,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.
“However, the markets were willing to look beyond the President’s geopolitical needling to focus on celebrating this moment of progress.”
Analysts said investors will look ahead to the Kansas City Fed’s virtual Jackson Hole economic symposium later this week, where central bank chairman Jay Powell is expected to provide new details on the bank’s monetary policy review.
Jackson Hole will likely be Powell’s first public speech since the Fed’s policy meeting in late July, when the bank restated its commitment to using all tools required to support the economy.
Here’s the market roundup as of 11.50 a.m. in London (6.50 a.m. ET):Advertisement
A mural in Chennai, India, celebrates workers on the front lines against the coronavirus pandemic. The global case count crossed the 20 million threshold on Monday, with the U.S., Brazil and India in the lead.
Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images
Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images
A mural in Chennai, India, celebrates workers on the front lines against the coronavirus pandemic. The global case count crossed the 20 million threshold on Monday, with the U.S., Brazil and India in the lead.
Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images
More than 20 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday evening, nearly five months to the day after the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic.
This is according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which puts the total number of deaths globally at nearly 734,000.
On Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, acknowledged that “behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering” and urged governments and citizens worldwide to do their part to suppress the virus.
“I know many of you are grieving and that this is a difficult moment for the world,” he said. “But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around.”
The U.S. leads the world with more than 5 million coronavirus cases and 163,400 deaths.
After surging in July, infections remain widespread in much of the U.S., especially in the South, West and parts of the Midwest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that 11 states had recorded more than 10,000 new cases in the previous week.
The country is logging more than 1,000 deaths per day, or about 40 people an hour, as NPR’s Allison Aubrey has reported. The coronavirus is on track to become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. this year, following cancer and heart disease.
Two other countries have case counts in the millions: Brazil is at more than 3 million and India surpassed the 2 million mark last week.
They are followed by Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Peru.
While many countries in Europe and Asia were largely able to bring the virus under control earlier this spring, cases have surged there and in other parts of the world.
The Philippines has overtaken Indonesia as the coronavirus hot spot in Southeast Asia. Mexico has the world’s third highest death toll after the U.S. and Brazil. Australia is struggling with a COVID-19 resurgence, and has greatly restricted the city of Melbourne in an effort to slow the spread.
Ghebreyesus said that there are two elements to addressing the pandemic effectively: leaders taking action, and citizens embracing new measures.
He cited several examples of countries that have successfully clamped down on the virus. He called New Zealand, which has gone more than 100 days without community transmission, as a “global exemplar.”
In Rwanda, he said, a “similar combination of strong leadership, universal health coverage, well-supported health workers and clear public health communications” helped make progress.
Many countries are using all available public health tools to respond to new spikes, he said. For example, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put parts of northern England under stay-at-home orders and French President Emmanuel Macron mandated masks in busy outdoor areas.
Ghebreyesus encouraged all countries to focus on rapid case identification, contact tracing, clinical care, physical distancing, mask wearing and good hygiene practices to slow the spread of the virus.
“Whether countries or regions have successfully eliminated the virus, suppressed transmission to a low level, or are still in the midst of a major outbreak,” he said. “Now is the time to do it all, invest in the basics of public health and we can save both lives and livelihoods.”
Earth cooled rapidly 13,000 years ago and the reason behind this is a series of volcanic eruptions which caused the average global temperature to drop by 3°C, a study claims.
It was previously believed that a meteorite impact was responsible, but a new study has found this to be incorrect.
Previous theories were based on geological findings which had incorrectly been attributed to rocks landing from space.
However, new analysis of the rock sediments shows they instead came from deep within Earth and were projected to the surface via violent eruptions.
Scroll down for video
Earth cooled rapidly 13,000 years ago and the reason behind this is a series of volcanic eruptions which caused the average global temperature to drop by 3°C, a study claims (Stock)
The world-cooling period is known as the Younger Dryas and is associated with early human settlers and the extinction of the woolly mammoth.
Study co-author Professor Alan Brandon, of at the University of Houston, said: ‘This work shows that the geochemical signature associated with the cooling event is not unique but occurred four times between 9,000 and 15,000 years ago.
‘Thus, the trigger for this cooling event didn’t come from space.
‘Prior geochemical evidence for a large meteor exploding in the atmosphere instead reflects a period of major volcanic eruptions.’
Volcanic eruptions spread particles into the atmosphere, which reflect thermal energy from sunlight away from the surface.
A period of ‘global cooling’ can follow a volcanic blast for one to five years, depending on the time frame and scale of the eruption.
Co-author Professor Steven Forman, of Baylor University in the US, said: ‘The Younger Dryas, which occurred about 13,000 years ago, disrupted distinct warming at the end of the last ice age.
‘The Earth’s climate may have been at a tipping point at the Younger Dryas, possibly from the ice sheet discharge into the North Atlantic Ocean, enhanced snow cover and powerful volcanic eruptions that may have in combination led to intense Northern Hemisphere cooling.’
Analysis of chemicals found in the soil at Hall’s Cave in the Texas Hill Country found traces of rare elements, including osmium, iridium, ruthenium, platinum, palladium and rhenium.
However, they were not in the ‘correct’ amounts to have been added by a meteor or asteroid.
Instead, the geosignatures indicated a volcanic origin, not extraterrestrial.
Pictured, archaeological excavations at Hall’s Cave. Experts exposed sediments for geochemical analysis that span from circa 20,000 to 6,000 years ago
Seemingly benign volcanoes can be much more violent than previously feared
Volcanoes that appear to be benign can be much more violent than previously feared due to volatile magma hidden deep below the surface, a study shows.
Scientists studied volcanoes on remote islands in the Galápagos Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador.
They found volcanoes that reliably produce small lava eruptions of basalt, an igneous rock, hide chemically diverse magmas in their underground plumbing systems.
These include some that have the potential to generate ‘explosive activity’ and could pose an unexpected safety risk for local authorities in the future.
Lead author doctoral student Nan Sun also, of the University of Houston, said: The signature from the osmium isotope analysis and the relative proportion of the elements matched that previously reported in volcanic gases.’
Co-author Dr Kenneth Befus also at Baylor University added: ‘These signatures were likely the result of major eruptions across the Northern Hemisphere, including volcanoes in the Aleutians, Cascades and even Europe.
The experts say that the period of cooling lasted around 1,200 years, far too long to have been caused by a single event.
Professor Forman said: ‘A sole volcanic eruptive cause is an important initiating factor, but other Earth system changes, such as cooling of the oceans and more snow cover were needed to sustain this colder period.
‘This is not the first time scientists have looked at other explanations for the sudden cooling.’
The researchers doubted their theory when confronted with the evidence, but after investigating all possible explanations for the cooling, the only viable explanation was a volcanic one.
Professor Brandon said: ‘I was skeptical. We took every avenue we could to come up with an alternative explanation or even avoid this conclusion.
‘A volcanic eruption had been considered one possible explanation but was generally dismissed because there was no associated geochemical fingerprint.’
The findings were published in the journal Science Advances.
India has become the third country to record more than 1m coronavirus infections, following the US and Brazil, as it reported 34,956 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the national total to 1,003,832.
The escalating infections in India come as new peaks continued to appear around the world, including an alarming rise in France’s Brittany region.
Amid evidence that the disease was taking hold in poorer, rural areasof India less well-served by public healthcare, the latest tally prompted renewed concerns about the country’s ability to cope with rising infections.
The figures have been released after a week in which authorities in India were forced to impose new lockdowns, including fresh restrictions on 128 million people in the state of Bihar, which came into force on Thursday.
The continuing and escalating outbreaks, on top of record cases in the United States – which passed 75,000 daily cases in the last count – has dampened hopes that the pandemic is anywhere close to being brought under control, even as researchers race to find a viable vaccine.
Three states in India – Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu – account for more than half of the total cases in the country so far. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, warned that the vast majority of cases in the country were still being missed.
The continuing rise has forced authorities to reinstate lockdowns in some cities and states.
In Bangalore the government ordered a week-long lockdown that began on Tuesday evening after a rapid increase in cases.
Dr Anant Bhan, a global health researcher, said India was likely to experience a series of peaks as the virus spread in rural areas. He said the capital, New Delhi, and the financial capital, Mumbai, had already recorded surges, while infections have now shifted to smaller cities.
India’s response to the virus was initially sluggish, but then on 24 March the prime minister, Narendra Modi, imposed a three-week nationwide lockdown of its 1.3-billion population.
By Friday more than 13.8m infections had been confirmed worldwide and nearly 590,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University, with Brazil topping 2m infections at the end of the week and the US more than 3m.
Countries around the world have moved quickly to reintroduce restrictions as outbreaks flare up again. Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city, announced a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people from Saturday as part of a package of measures to curb an increase in coronavirus cases in the Catalan capital.
“We have to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people … Only 10 people will be allowed in weddings and funerals from Saturday,” Colau told a press conference. Residents were also urged to shop online and cultural and sports events will also be limited.
In France, which had already announced plans to make mask wearing mandatory in enclosed public spaces, authorities reported a sharp rise in the infection rate in Brittany. According to data released on Friday, the disease’s reproduction rate in Brittany had risen from 0.92 to 2.62 between 10-14 July.
“It’s a worrying number because it means the epidemic is taking off again,” Eric Caumes, an infectious disease specialist at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris, told BFM TV.
In China, flights into the city of Ürümqi in thefar-western Xinjiang region were restricted on Friday, and underground and public bus services suspended, according to local social media.
The latest outbreak has underlined the continuing difficulty China faces in stamping out the virus – even with its imposition of draconian measures – which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Amid fears around the world over the ease in which new resurgences have escalated after countries relaxed restrictions, Hong Kong reported 50 new locally transmitted cases on Friday, stoking further concern about a third peak of infections in the global financial hub.
Tokyo hit a daily high of 293 infections as Japan tries to keep the world’s third-largest economy running while curbing infections, a precarious balancing act of opening restaurants and theatres with limited seating, and having store clerks work behind plastic shielding.
“We have asked people and businesses to raise their alert levels,” said the Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike. She said the recent higher numbers partly reflected more aggressive testing.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission called on Wednesday for global leaders to cooperate to buy bulk quantities of potential COVID-19 vaccines, to avoid “harmful competition” in the race for a shot and ensure any future vaccine is available for poor countries.
With around a dozen potential vaccines now in human trials, rich countries have been rushing to buy up doses in advance from pharmaceutical companies, to make sure they will have enough supply should any prove successful.
The European Commission, the EU executive arm, is worried that such competition could raise the prices of vaccines for everyone, and also leave many countries, mostly poor ones, struggling to obtain a supply.
“When it comes to fighting a global pandemic, there is no place for ‘me first’,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
The EU is planning to spend around 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) on the advance purchase of vaccines in testing on behalf of the 27 EU states.
EU countries are also pursuing their own initiatives, with Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands making a joint deal last week with drugmaker AstraZeneca to buy up front its vaccine under development.
Washington has so far made clear it is prioritizing its own citizens for COVID-19 vaccines.
Von der Leyen said she is trying convince “a significant number” of world leaders to join forces and buy vaccines up front together.
FILE PHOTO: Scientists are seen working at Cobra Biologics, they are working on a potential vaccine for COVID-19, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Keele, Britain, April 30, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine
The EU is co-hosting a global virtual summit on vaccine strategy next week, at the end of a fund-raising campaign to secure funds to distribute potential coronavirus shots to poor countries.
AstraZeneca, France’s Sanofi, and U.S. firms Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are among companies trialing vaccines against the coronavirus.
($1 = 0.8881 euros)
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Peter Graff
A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a healthcare camp set up for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, Mumbai, India, June 7, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
(Reuters) – Global deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 400,000 on Sunday, as case numbers surge in Brazil and India, according to a Reuters tally.
The United States is responsible for about one-quarter of all fatalities but deaths in South America are rapidly rising.
The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in just five months is now equal to the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases.
Global cases are approaching 7 million, with about 2 million, or 30%, of those cases in the United States. Latin America has the second-largest outbreak with over 15% of cases, according to Reuters tally.
The first COVID-19 death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China but it was early April before the death toll passed 100,000, according to the Reuters tally of official reports from governments. It took 24 days to go from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths.
The United States has the highest death toll in the world at almost 110,000. Fatalities in Brazil are rising rapidly and the country may overtake the United Kingdom to have the second-largest number of deaths in the world.
The total number of deaths is believed to be higher than the officially reported 400,000 as many countries lack supplies to test all victims and some countries do not count deaths outside of a hospital. (Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)
60-year-old Gertrud Schop lights candles arranged in the shape of a cross, with one candle dedicated to each of the more than 8,000 German Covid-19-related victims, in Zella-Mehlis, eastern Germany on May 19, 2020.
Jens Schlueter | AFP via Getty Images
Reported Covid-19 cases around the world reached 5 million on Thursday as some countries begin easing strict social distancing guidelines and look to reopen their economies, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The number of reported cases worldwide hit 5,000,038 and the global death toll now stands at 328,172, according to Hopkins.
The latest morbid milestone comes as the spread of the coronavirus across the world shows no signs of slowing down. Even as outbreaks in China and other countries appear to have abated, the pandemic has picked up speed in other parts of the world. The World Health Organization said Wednesday the number of newly reported coronavirus cases worldwide hit a daily record this week with more than 100,000 new cases over the last 24 hours.
The majority of new confirmed cases are coming from the Americas and led by the U.S., followed by Europe, according to the WHO’s daily report. The U.S. reported 45,251 new cases on Tuesday, according to the agency. Russia had the second most reported cases Tuesday at 9,263, according to the WHO.
Eastern Europe is experiencing a delayed epidemic but could implement lessons that have been learned at great costs in Asia, North America and Western Europe, according to WHO officials. Russia has surpassed the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy as the country with the second-highest number of infections, according to JHU data.
“There are differences right now between Western Europe, which has been through that first big wave, and Eastern Europe, particularly Russian Federation, that is now experiencing higher numbers of disease,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said at a press briefing on May 8.
WHO officials have warned against easing coronavirus restrictions and reopening economies too quickly, saying it could lead to a “vicious cycle” of economic and health disasters as cases resurge and officials have to reinstitute lockdowns.
It’s a “false equation” to choose between the economy and public health, Ryan said. “The worst thing that could happen,” economically, is that a country reopens and then has to shut down again to respond to a resurgence of the virus, Ryan said.
Some countries, such as Singapore, were able to control Covid-19 at first but have since seen cases jump in more densely populated areas, WHO officials said. Long-term care facilities and prisons — where people live closely together — are at especially high risks of outbreaks and officials need to find ways of preventing the virus from transmitting from person to person.
Reopening the U.S.
In the U.S., all 50 states are beginning to reopen businesses even as models suggest it will lead to a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths over the next couple of weeks.
The number of newly reported cases in the U.S., which accounts for nearly a third of all cases globally, has outpaced all other countries in the world when compared with the same period of time, according to data from Hopkins.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN on Sunday that reopening isn’t entirely dependent on a vaccine. The U.S. has tested a greater number of asymptomatic people compared with other countries, he said.
The U.S. is now conducting more than 300,000 tests per day and has run roughly 10 million tests total. That’s still a small portion of the country’s population of approximately 328 million people.
Some of the most populated states in the country, including California and New York, have slowly started to reopen their economies in phases as the states continue to report declining hospitalization rates.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom both said Monday that their states could resume professional sports without spectators soon.
Other states have allowed for greater reopening of their economies across the state. In late April, Georgia allowed businesses such as gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen as long as they followed certain social distancing guidelines.
Texas on Monday allowed exercise facilities, nonessential manufacturing plants and office buildings to reopen with 25% capacity and other social-distancing guidelines. In-store retail services, dine-in restaurant services, movie theaters, shopping malls, museums and libraries could open with 25% occupancy under certain conditions.