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World Roundup: Vaccine plan gets $8.8 billion booster shot

  • Vaccine plan gets $8.8 billion booster shot
  • Las Vegas casinos roll the dice again
Governments around the world have pledged $8.8 billion for global vaccines alliance Gavi to help immunization programs disrupted by coronavirus, prompting calls for global cooperation to ensure a potential COVID-19 vaccine is available to all.

The online meeting beat a target to raise $7.4 million to provide vaccines at a much reduced cost to 300 million children worldwide over the next five years.

READ: Global vaccines programme gets $8.8 billion shot in the arm

More than 50 countries took part as well as individuals such as billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation pledged $1.6 billion.

Gavi also launched a new initiative to purchase potential COVID-19 vaccines, scale-up production and support delivery to developing nations, which raised $567 million in seed money.

“Together, we rise to fulfil the greatest shared endeavor of our lifetimes – the triumph of humanity over disease,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the summit.

“Today we make the choice to unite, to forge a path of global cooperation.”

Scientists around the world are racing to develop and test a coronavirus vaccine and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it must be available to everyone.

“A vaccine must be seen as a global public good – a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” he said in a video message.

Patients with high blood twice likely to die

Patients with high blood pressure admitted to hospital with coronavirus infections are twice as likely to die as those without the condition, researchers said on Friday.

For in-patients with the virus who had stopped taking medication for high blood pressure, the risk of dying doubled again, they reported in the European Heart Journal.

READ: Virus patients with high blood pressure twice as likely to die: study

“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realize that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19,” said senior author Fei Li, a cardiologist at Xijing Hospital in Xian, China.

For the study, researchers in China and Ireland retroactively examined cases admitted to Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan between February 5 and March 15.

Las Vegas casinos reopen

Las Vegas casinos threw open their doors Thursday after 11 weeks of closure due to the coronavirus, with downtown roulette wheels and slot machines whirring to life minutes after midnight.

Large crowds flocked immediately to casinos such as The D, which had flown in gamblers from across the country on hundreds of free flights to boost the occasion.

The Bellagio’s fountains were switched back on shortly before its sprawling casino floors reopened, as dozens of curious locals and excited tourists lined up to enter at 10 am.

The reopening is a major boost for the badly-hit Las Vegas economy, which depends heavily on tourism and has seen unemployment shoot as high as 33.5 percent in April.

“Vegas is still Vegas,” MGM Resorts CEO William Hornbuckle said. “Over time, we’ll get fully back.” AFP

Pandemic ‘under control’ in France

The COVID-19 pandemic is now “under control” in France, the head of the government’s scientific advisory council said Friday, as the country cautiously lifts the lockdown imposed in March to contain the outbreak.

“The virus is still circulating, in certain regions in particular... but it is circulating slowly,” Jean-Francois Delfraissy told France Inter radio.

“Where we had tens of thousands of cases a day, around 80,000 new cases per day in early March, before the lockdown, we estimate we now have around 1,000 cases,” he said.

Fiji now coronavirus-free

Fiji announced it was coronavirus free Friday after the island nation’s last known infected patient was given the all-clear, continuing the Pacific’s remarkable record of success against the virus.

There was panic among Fiji’s 930,000 population when the first COVID-19 case was reported in mid-March, but strict isolation measures and border controls kept a lid on infections, which peaked at 18 confirmed cases.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama attributed the country’s virus-free status to “answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science.”

“Fiji has just cleared the last of our active COVID-19 patients,” he tweeted. “And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100 percent.”

Topics: global vaccines , Gavi , COVID-19 , Bill Gates , Seth Berkley , World Health Organization
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