US threatens to sanction African countries that engage in electoral violence

The United States Government has warned that it will clamp down on African countries that engage in electoral violence.

A statement on the US official website signed by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo urged all political party leaders across the continent to hold on to integrity and ensure that peace prevails before, during and after the conduct of their respective elections.

The statement mentioned the imposition of travel restrictions as key among the restrictions the US Federal Government will place on African countries that will engage in violence.

The statement further urged African countries to uphold democratic credentials and avoid acts that undermine freedoms.

“We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those responsible for election-related violence,” parts of the US government’s statement read.

Below is the full statement:
The United States is committed to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections. The conduct of elections is important not only for Africans but also for defenders of democracy around the world. We believe all sides should participate peacefully in the democratic process. Repression and intimidation have no place in democracies.

The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and association are at the heart of a functioning democracy. Adherence to these democratic norms and to the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms. We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those responsible for election-related violence. As long-time partners to the nations of Africa, we care about the region’s democratic trajectory and are committed to working constructively with international and regional partners.


China has released a white paper on the participation of the country’s armed forces in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations

The Ministry of Defense of China has released a white paper on the participation of the country’s armed forces in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations.

The white paper, titled “China’s Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations,” was released by the State Council Information Office. Serving on the UN missions for world peace, China’s armed forces have become a key force in UN peacekeeping operations over the past three decades, says the document.

Chinese peacekeepers have left their footprints in over 20 countries and regions including Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus, South Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic.

They have made a tremendous contribution to facilitating the peaceful settlement of disputes, safeguarding regional security and stability, and promoting economic and social development in host nations, the document says. China has faithfully implemented the pledges it announced at a UN Summit to support UN peacekeeping through actions including setting up a peacekeeping standby force, sending more enabler troops to UN peacekeeping operations, helping train foreign peacekeepers and providing military aid gratis to the African Union, it says. China’s armed forces have also cooperated on peacekeeping with over 90 countries and 10 international and regional organizations, it says.

Contributing to building a community with a shared future for humanity, China will continue to play its part as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and firmly support and participate in the UN peacekeeping operations, according to the white paper.

China’s armed forces are committed to strengthening bilateral and multilateral communication for better understanding and mutual trust. They have carried out active peacekeeping cooperation with the militaries of countries including Russia, Pakistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. Through reciprocal visits, China’s armed forces and their foreign counterparts have strengthened communication on policies, made cooperation
plans, and advanced friendly state-to-state and military-to-military relations.

In May 2010, the first China-US consultation on the UNPKOs was held in Beijing.

In April 2015, the defense ministers of China and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on peacekeeping cooperation between the two ministries in Beijing. That same year, China conducted the first BRICS consultation on the UNPKOs with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. In February 2017, the first China-UK dialogue on peacekeeping operations was
held in the UK. In April 2018, military advisers of Russia, France, the UK and the US to the UN Military Staff Committee visited China and exchanged extensive views on the UNPKOs with the Chinese side. In May, the defense ministries of China and Pakistan signed a protocol on policy collaboration with regard to the UNPKOs. In October, the German defense minister visited the Training Base of the Peacekeeping Affairs Center of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND), and a peacekeeping delegation from the Chinese MND visited the German Armed Forces United Nations Training Centre.

The document also includes a timeline of Chinese armed forces’ activities in the UN peacekeeping operations.

Story: Sheila Satori Mensa

Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be Ready By Next Month

There is seems to be a breakthrough against the current global pandemic, as the coronavirus vaccine could be available to give in the form of an inhaler by next month according to a report.

Trials of a vaccine being developed by Oxford University are currently ongoing with the initial target of September to be available to the public.

Drug company Astra Zeneca has stated it will produce the vaccine light so it’s ready when final approval is given and intends to produce two billion doses thanks to funding from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

The Oxford University team are reportedly “80 per cent confident” the Covid-19 vaccine work in younger people and say the vaccine could be given using a device like an asthma inhaler next month.

The news came in an online lecture for Oxford University’s Centre for Personalised Medicine given by team member Professor Adrian Hill, the Daily Mail reports.

He revealed that the clinical trials will end when the vaccine has clearly been found to protect people.

“We are guessing that might be around about August time – it might be before if cases do not decline as quickly as we expect, or be later if we run out of cases,” he revealed.

The Oxford trial began back in April and began recruiting up to 10,260 adults over 55 and children.

AstraZeneca has already agreed to supply 100 million doses of the potential vaccine to the UK.

It has also signed a massive $1 billion deal for a coronavirus vaccine with the U.S government.

The Anglo-Swedish firm will supply 400 million doses of the Covid-19 drug currently being developed by the University of Oxford.

The drug is still undergoing trials at the university’s Jenner Institute, which is working with the Oxford Vaccine Group on the project.

The order from US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority comes after demands for from Donald Trump for a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, as part of program dubbed ‘Operation Warp Speed’.

There is no vaccine or treatment available for the virus but doctors around the world are testing current anti-viral drugs to see if they can deal coronavirus.

Coronavirus since its outbreak from the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 31 2019, has killed more than 300,000 people while over 4 million people have been affected globally.

French military kills north African al Qaeda leader with US help

(CNN) — The French military killed a senior al Qaeda terrorist in an operation in northern Mali Wednesday, according to France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly.

“On June 3, the French armed forces, with the support of their partners, neutralized the emir Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdal and several of his close collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” Parly wrote on Twitter.

AQIM is one of the oldest al Qaeda franchises and has a long history of operation in North Africa. Droukdal led the terror group for more than 15 years.

The US military assisted the French operation by providing intelligence that helped locate the target.

“US Africa Command was able to assist with intelligence and (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) support to fix the target,” Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman for the command told CNN.

“This was a great example of cooperation and partnership to get after a common threat,” he added.

A US military official described Droukdal as being involved in all aspects of the AQIM organization including financing, planning and the facilitation and execution of terrorist attacks, saying Droukdal “was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians.”

Droukdal became leader of AQIM in 2004 and led the organization when it pledged formal allegiance to al Qaeda and its founder Osama bin Laden.

“The death of AQIM’s founder and leader Abdelmalek Droukdal is a very significant breakthrough in countering terrorism in the northern and western regions of Africa, especially given the deep and in recent years growing concern among counterterrorism officials about the al Qaeda threat to the Sahel region,” according to CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank.

“By fusing veterans of the brutal Algerian jihadi movement with bin Laden’s global jihad and seeking common cause with an alphabet soup of jihadi militants from Mali to Libya to Burkina Faso, Droukdal was one of the principal architects of a generation of terrorist carnage across a large swath of the African continent,” he added.

US officials believe he was actively seeking to expand the terror group’s territory in ungoverned areas of Mali.

The French military has some 5,000 troops battling AQIM and other terrorist groups in North West Africa an area known as the Sahel.

The Pentagon is actively weighing reducing its military support to French forces in northwest Africa which includes intelligence, surveillance and aerial refueling of French military aircraft.

Bill Gates said it’s hard to deny vaccine conspiracy theories involving him because they’re ‘so stupid’

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said in a call with reporters Wednesday that it’s “almost hard to deny” the conspiracy theories surrounding him and vaccines “because it’s so stupid.”

Misinformation has been circulating in recent weeks falsely claiming that Gates is behind a plot to use vaccines to implant microchips in people.

When asked about a Yahoo News/YouGov poll showing that 28% of Americans, including 44% of Republicans and 50% of Fox News viewers, wrongly believe this, he said it’s “a little bit concerning.”

Gates, whose foundation pledged an additional $1.6 billion on Thursday toward vaccinating children in low-income countries, said misinformation hasn’t “held up” the global funding effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, but that it could make it harder to reach herd immunity if and when a vaccine is found.

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates denied and shrugged off baseless conspiracy theories about him being behind a plot to use vaccines to implant tracking microchips in people during a call with reporters on Wednesday.

“I’ve never been involved any sort of microchip type thing … It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange,” he said.

Gates has attempted to sound the alarm about the dangers of pandemics for years and urged world leaders, including then-president-elect Donald Trump in late 2016, to take stronger steps to prepare. He famously gave a TED talk in 2015 that warned of the potentially staggering death toll a worldwide pandemic could entail.

Citing that talk, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $300 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and develop a vaccine, some right-wing fringe groups and pundits began spreading misinformation online in January that Gates is somehow behind the virus’ creation and wants to profit from it.”It is good to know which kids have had a measles vaccine and which have not,” Gates said, adding that “there are needed systems,” like health records that should be in place to help healthcare workers identify who has been immunized, but that no microchips are involved whatsoever.

“Our foundation gets money to buy vaccines,” he said. “That’s why we saw the risk of a pandemic and spoke out.”

Still, coronavirus-related Bill Gates conspiracy theories exploded on social media and TV: They were mentioned 1.2 million times in March and April, according to data provided to The New York Times by media intelligence firm Zignal Labs.

In a recent survey by Yahoo News and YouGov, 28% of Americans said they believed the conspiracy theory, while 44% of Republicans and 50% of Fox News viewers thought it was true. (By contrast, 61% of MSNBC viewers said it was false). When asked about the poll, Gates said he found it “a little bit concerning,” but said it hadn’t prevented governments and other groups across the globe from funding COVID-19 vaccine development efforts.

However, he did express some concern that, if and when a vaccine is found, anti-vaccine sentiment could make it harder to reach herd immunity — which occurs when enough of a population is immune to a pathogen that it prevents its further spread.

Gates also argued that when vaccines are ready to manufacture, they should be distributed first to countries with weaker healthcare infrastructure and where social distancing is less feasible. His foundation announced an additional $1.6 billion pledge over the next five years to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to immunize children in low-income countries.

“The world needs to work together to develop safe and effective vaccines and make sure that we scale up the manufacturing so we can get them out to those need them the most, not necessarily those who can pay the most,” he said.

The increased use of antibiotics in fighting COVID-19, could lead to more deaths – WHO reveals

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, said the increased use of antibiotics in fighting COVID-19, could lead to more deaths.

WHO director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, speaking during a virtual press conference in Geneva, said a “worrying number” of bacterial infections were becoming increasingly resistant to the medicines traditionally used to treat them.

According to Ghebreyesus, the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 would further escalate the trend.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates that will impact the burden of disease and deaths during the pandemic and beyond,” he said

The WHO noted that only a small percentage of coronavirus patients needed antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections.

Ghebreyesus added that there was an “overuse” of antibiotics in certain parts of the world, while in some other countries, such life-saving medicines were unavailable, “leading to needless suffering and death”.

Donald Trump “terminates relationship” with the WHO and blames it for spread of “Wuhan virus” as he accuses it of failing to make reforms

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization as he laid down the gauntlet against China.

‘We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and directing those funds to worldwide and deserving, urgent global public health needs,’ he said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

He blamed the move on China not being transparent enough about the ‘Wuhan’ virus, which is what he has called the coronavirus, and slammed Beijing’s over reach in Hong Kong.

Trump did not take questions at the Friday afternoon event, which the White House billed at a news conference. His less than 10 minutes of remarks were focused exclusively on the WHO, China and Hong Kong.

He ignored the other major news of the day: the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Trump’s tweets on the matter were muzzled by Twitter, which said they violated the company’s policy against ‘inciting violence.’ Trump had warned the ‘thugs’ protesting in Minneapolis he would send in the National Guard, adding that ‘looting leads to shooting.’

Trump tried to explain his words in another round of tweets shortly before his event – where reporters were expected to quiz him on it – by saying he was simply stating a fact and not making a threat.

He kept his event focused on China, but held back on announcing tough new sanctions on launching a full-scale trade war, keeping his punishment focused on the WHO.

‘China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act,’ Trump said.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency’s work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus.

Trump has targeted China since he took office, starting a trade war with Beijing.

The president also has been a frequent critic of the WHO’s relationship with China, complaining the group didn’t do enough to push that country to release information about the coroanvirus, which was first detected in Wuhan.

China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives,’ he said.

Trump also announced Hong Kong’s role as a global financial center is at risk after China insisted on imposing a strict political crackdown of the territory.

‘I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,’ he said.

‘We will be revising the state departments’ travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus. We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,’ he added.

The World Health Organization became a target of President Trump in his blame game as he points the finger for the devastating effects of the coronavirus – an economic down turn and over 100,000 American deaths – at everyone but his administration. Also feeling Trump’s fury has been China, the states, governors and the Democrats.

The president has called it ‘China-centric’ and complained they ‘missed the call’ when it came to the coronavirus.

Trump’s main beef with the United Nations health group is that leadership there said it wasn’t necessary to ban travelers coming in from China as the coronavirus started spreading beyond Wuhan, where it originated.

The president has bragged that his early ban of some travelers from China kept it from being a greater threat to the U.S.

Trump has followed the lead of prominent conservatives in complaining that the WHO has been too friendly to China during the coronavirus crisis.

The WHO is funded in two ways – through assessed contributions and voluntary contributions. The U.S. is its largest contributor.

The assessed contributions, which are like dues to the organization, are calculated by looking at a country’s wealth and population.

In its February budget proposal, the Trump administration called for slashing the U.S. contribution to the WHO in half from the previous fiscal year – from $122.6 million to $57.9 million.

While the U.S. pays the most in assessed contributions, that full pot of money has only accounted for less than 25 per cent of WHO’s haul over the past few years.

However, Americans NGOs and charity organizations, along with taxpayer dollars, do make up the biggest chunk of the WHO’s funding.

On January 31, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions on people coming from China due to the outbreak.

But WHO said such bans were not needed, noting that ‘travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation’ of coronavirus cases, but may instead ‘have a significant economic and social impact.’

And the group noted that ‘restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.’

‘Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on,’ Trump tweeted in early April when he first began to target the WHO.

‘Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?’ the president asked.

Coronavirus vaccine gets positive results in first human trial

The first COVID-19 vaccine to reach clinical trials in humans was determined to be both safe and generate an immune response against the virus — a “milestone” in the battle to defeat the deadly bug, a new study found.

A single dose of the vaccine was found to produce virus-fighting antibodies and T cells, a type of immune cell, two weeks after it’s administered, according to the peer-reviewed study, published Friday in the journal The Lancet.

“These results represent an important milestone,” the lead researcher on the study, Professor Wei Chen, said.

Producing both antibodies and T cells is an ideal result for a vaccine, the researchers said. A vaccine that does both not only triggers the body to produce virus-specific immune cells, but also supports the body’s innate immune response.

But the potential vaccine is far from being made available for widespread use. Further trials are needed to determine whether the vaccine effectively protects against infection — rather than just triggers an immune response to the virus.

“The challenges in the development of a COVD-19 vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to trigger these immune responses does not necessarily indicate that the vaccine will protect humans from COVID-19,” Chen said.

“This result shows a promising vision for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, but we are still a long way from this vaccine being available to all.”

The study’s authors also noted that their research is limited because of its small sample size and short duration, and it also lacked a control group.

The study, conducted in Wuhan, China, by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology tested different doses of the vaccine in 108 healthy adults who did not have the coronavirus.

The vaccine produced no serious adverse effects at all doses — and was tolerated well among the adults who took it, according to the research.

After two weeks, the vaccine produced virus-fighting antibodies across all dose levels, with the highest dose level triggering antibodies in 61 percent of those who took it.

A majority of participants also produced virus-fighting T cells two weeks after taking the vaccine, which were also greatest at the higher dose levels.

The Beijing Institute of Biotechnology’s vaccine is just one of dozens being studied around the world as public health authorities desperately search for a cure for the pandemic, which has already killed more than 94,000 people in the US alone.

Another promising experimental vaccine from Oxford University also reached a milestone Friday, with researchers announcing they will be progressing to advanced stages of human trials in more than 10,000 volunteers.

All the Covid-19 Symptoms You Didn’t Know About

As the pandemic spreads around the world, doctors are beginning to scope the coronavirus’s damage. Seen initially as a cause of viral pneumonia during the chaos of an explosion of cases in China, it’s now emerging as an enigmatic pathogen capable of harming the body in a myriad of unexpected, and sometimes lethal, ways. Clinical manifestations range from common cold-like symptoms and bronchitis to more severe disease such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, multi-organ failure and even death. The illness may occur as a direct result of viral infection, as well as the body’s response to it. Here’s a snapshot of some of the symptoms Covid-19 causes, including some you might not have heard about.

Blood— fever and inflammation may disrupt blood vessels, rendering blood cells more prone to clumping while interfering with the body’s ability to dissolve clots. That may trigger a clotting cascade that can lead to blood-vessel blockages in tissues and organs throughout the body. Life-threatening clots in the arteries of the lung, known as pulmonary emboli, may occur even after symptoms of the infection have resolved. Damaged blood vessels may become leaky and prone to bleeding. In children, inflammation of veins and arteries triggered by excessive immune activation may cause an illness similar to Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory disorder.

Brain— dysfunction in the lining of blood vessels and associated bleeding and clotting disorders may cause strokes and bleeding in the brain. Patients may also experience headache, dizziness, confusion, impaired consciousness, poor motor control, delirium and hallucinations.

Eyes— red, puffy eyes, sometimes referred to as pink eye, may result from infection in the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye.

Gastrointestinal tract— infection of cells lining the digestive tract may cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Blood-vessel blockages caused by abnormal clotting have been found to damage the bowel, requiring emergency surgery and resection.

Hands— prickling or burning sensation in the hands and limbs may indicate Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare nervous-system disorder that may be triggered by aberrant immune responses to viral infection. Other symptoms of the syndrome include poor coordination, muscle weakness and temporary paralysis.

Heart— cardiac injury, sometimes leading to irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and cardiac arrest, may occur as a result of excess strain, inflammation of the heart muscle and coronary artery, blood clots, and overwhelming multi-organ illness. Infection, fever, and inflammation in people with existing heart-vessel blockages may cause their fatty plaques to break off, blocking or stopping blood flow in organs and tissues.

Limbs— obstructions in large blood vessels may cause insufficient flow, or acute ischemia, in the limbs. Severe vascular complications can be lethal. At least one reported cases resulted in lower limb amputation.

Liver— liver dysfunction may occur as a direct result of the viral infection, or more likely because of immune-mediated, systemic inflammation and circulatory blockages cutting blood flow to the organ.

Lungs— the virus targets the epithelial cells that line and protect the respiratory tract as well as the walls of the tiny grape-like air sacs, or alveoli, through which gas exchange occurs to oxygenate the blood. Damage to alveoli and inflammation in the lungs can cause pneumonia, characterized by chest pain and shortness of breath. In severe cases, the lack of oxygen can trigger acute respiratory distress syndrome, leading to multi-organ-system failure.

Kidneys— acute kidney injury may result from clots and impaired blood supply, or as a direct result of infection.

Nose and tongue— while the virus can cause the sneezing and runny nose typical of a common cold, it can also disrupt the olfactory system, causing an abrupt full or partial loss of the sense of smell known as anosmia. Taste may also become distorted in a condition known as dyguesia.

Skin— hive-like rashes, small red dots and purplish discolorations on the legs and abdomen are part of a complex category of so-called paraviral dermatoses that may result from the body’s immune response to the virus or from benign, superficial blood-vessel damage beneath the skin.

Toes— purple rashes that resemble chickenpox, measles or chilblains may appear on the feet, especially of children and younger adults.

Black People Four Times More Likely to Die From COVID-19 Than White Men – ONS says

Black men and women in the U.K. are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, according to new data looking at the ethnicity of those who have succumbed to the disease.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), the U.K’s largest independent producer of official statistics, said that Black men are 4.2 times more likely to die from coronavirus than their white counterparts, and black women 4.3 times more likely, when age is taken into account.

People from Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities were also found to be significantly more likely to die from coronavirus than their white counterparts.

The data from the ONS found that the risk of death for people from a Pakistani background was 3.29 times higher, 2.41 times higher for those from a Bangladeshi background and 2.21 times higher for those from a black Caribbean background. The rate among those from an Indian background was 1.7 times higher.

The ONS report looking into COVID-19 related deaths by ethnic group in England and Wales between March 2 and April 10, states: “This provisional analysis has shown that the risk of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of White ethnicity.

The Office for National Statistic says data shows black people are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people”When taking into account age in the analysis, Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a COVID-19-related death and Black females are 4.3 times more likely than White ethnicity males and females.

“People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and Mixed ethnicities also had statistically significant raised risk of death involving COVID-19 compared with those of White ethnicity.

“These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in COVID-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained.”

Helen Board, Acting Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a U.K. based charity that aims to solve poverty, said: “Today’s figures are a stark reminder that although we are all weathering the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.

“People from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to live in deprived areas, employed in low-paid jobs where they cannot work from home. We know that both these factors increase the risk of catching coronavirus.

“Workers from BAME communities are also more likely to live in overcrowded homes, increasing the risk for their families too. We entered the crisis with millions of people locked in poverty, struggling against a rising tide of low pay, insecure jobs and spiralling living costs.

“With the Bank of England now forecasting the deepest recession on record, we must ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in after the virus passes. It doesn’t have to be like this – as a society that prides itself on justice and compassion we can and must do better.”

Coronavirus: WHO cautions Madagascar over ‘herbal Cure’

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no proof of a cure for COVID-19 after Madagascar’s president launched a herbal coronavirus “cure”.

The country’s national medical academy (Anamem) has also cast doubt on the efficacy of Andry Rajoelina’s touted prevention and remedy.

It said it had the potential to damage people’s health as its “scientific evidence had not been established”.

The plant-based tonic is to be given free of charge to the most vulnerable.

Launched as Covid-Organics, it is produced from the artemisia plant – the source of an ingredient used in a malaria treatment – and other Malagasy plants.

It was being marketed in a bottle and as a herbal tea after being tested on fewer than 20 people over a period of three weeks, the president’s chief of staff Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro told the BBC.

“Tests have been carried out – two people have now been cured by this treatment,” Mr Rajoelina said at the launch of Covid-Organics at the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (Imra), which developed the tonic.

“This herbal tea gives results in seven days,” said the 45-year-old president, who also urged people to use it as a preventative measure.

“Schoolchildren should be given this to drink… little by little throughout the day,” he told the diplomats and other dignitaries gathered for the launch.

Dr Charles Andrianjara, Imra’s Director-General, agreed that Covid-Organics should be used for prevention.

He was more cautious about its use as a cure, but said that clinical observations had shown “a trend towards its effectiveness as a curative remedy”, the AFP news agency quotes him as saying.

The Indian Ocean island has so far recorded 121 cases of coronavirus and no deaths.

‘No short-cuts’

In response to the launch of Covid-Organics, the WHO said, in a statement sent to the BBC, that the global organisation did not recommend “self-medication with any medicines… as a prevention or cure for Covid-19”.

It reiterated earlier comments by WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that there were “no short-cuts” to finding effective mediation to fight coronavirus.

International trials were underway to find an effective treatment, the WHO added.

Ms Ranoromaro said President Rajoelina was aware that the WHO had to abide by its protocols but said it came down to a matter of sovereignty.

“He has a duty to Malagasy people,” she said.

‘Bubonic plague’

Professor Brian Klaas, an expert on Madagascar at University College London, said Mr Rajoelina’s stance could cause Malagasy citizens more harm than good.

“It’s dangerous for two reasons – one is that some people will be taking it who should not be taking it,” he told BBC Newsday.

“And secondly that it will give people a false sense of security, so they’ll end up doing things that they would not otherwise have done and put themselves and others at greater risk.”

If the virus did begin to spread, it could be “devastating” as the country’s healthcare system was weak, with only six ventilators for a population of 27 million people, he said.

“It’s also one of the reasons why the island is one of the only places on the planet that regularly has outbreaks of bubonic plague, which is readily cured with the right medicine.”

In March, the US-based National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warned against purported coronavirus remedies, including herbal therapies and teas – saying the best way to prevent infection was to avoid exposure to the virus.


COVID-19: Vaccine trials ongoing in 5 African countries

The Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined some of the trials going on for Covid-19 treatment and vaccination in Africa.
Fifty-two countries have currently reported having positive cases of the virus – with more than 37,000 patients being treated.

In a joint briefing online with doctors at Shanghai hospital, the Africa CDC said that in comparison to the rest of the world there were very few treatments happening on the continent.

Dr Taji Rajudeen outlined the trials so far:

  1. In Egypt, there are about 13 trials going on looking specifically at therapeutics. Scientists, there are also conducting around two trials on vaccines. They are also looking at the place of nutritional support, especially with honey and some immunotherapy trials are going on in Egypt.
  2. In Zambia, they have one ongoing trial with hydroxychloroquine.
  3. South Africa is part of the WHO solidarity trial, and they are looking at Chloroquine, Interferon, Remdesivir.
  4. In Nigeria, they have one trial in progress – still on therapeutical agents.
  5. Tunisia has two trials going on.
The Africa CDC try to mobilise the different research consortiums on the continent to see how to change this narrative so that Africa becomes more engaged in that regard.

Editorial: “The Coronavirus pandemic is far from over” – World Health Organization says

The World’s leading health body, the World Health Organization, has stated that the Coronavirus pandemic is far from over, even as major countries of the world relax lockdown orders so as to restart the economic and business life of it’s citizenry.

Four million jobs have been furloughed in the UK alone, over 3 million people in the US have become unemployed while countries in Africa have been plunged even into more economics misery as the Coronavirus pandemic has affected small and large scale enterprises.

Covid-19 has infected more than 3 million people and killed at least 210,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

More than 56,000 people have died in the United States, representing more than a quarter of all deaths worldwide.

Switzerland will allow some businesses to reopen today, while Italy plans to loosen some measures on May 4 but the WHO has warned such countries that the pandemic isn’t over.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said;

“The pandemic is far from over,” he said at a news conference.

” We continue to be concerned about the increasing trends in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries.”

“As in all regions, cases and deaths are underreported in many countries in these regions, because of low testing capacity,” Tedros said.

“This virus will not be defeated if we are not united, if we are not united, the virus will exploit the cracks between us and continue to create havoc. Lives will be lost,” Tedros added.

Coronavirus pandemic will cause global famines of ‘biblical proportions’ – UN warns, as it lists Nigeria among countries at risk of famine

The United Nations has warned nations of the world to prepare for global famines of ‘biblical proportions’ due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic while naming Nigeria amongst a list of top ten countries at risk of an all out famine.

According to the executive director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, in a matter of months the pandemic will push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation and in a worst case scenario famines will occur “about three dozen countries”.

According to the UN, ten out of those three dozen countries already have more than 1 million people close to starvation.

According to the UNWFP Director Beasley (pictured above), vast food shortages will occur due to factors like conflict, economic recession, a decline in aid and a collapse in oil prices.

“While dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” David Beasley told the UN’s security council.

“There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself.”

The agency identified 55 countries, with ten being singled as mostly at risk of a ‘hunger pandemic’. The ten countries include Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti.

According to the UN Agency, these countries apart from being at risk of entering famine have fragile healthcare systems which make them unable to cope with the impact of the virus.

“These countries may face an excruciating trade-off between saving lives or livelihoods or, in a worst-case scenario, saving people from the coronavirus to have them die from hunger,” the report said.

“Lockdowns and economic recession are expected to lead to a major loss of income among the working poor,” Beasley said. Overseas remittances will also drop sharply, affecting countries such as Haiti, Nepal, and Somalia, for example.

“The loss of tourism receipts will damage countries such as Ethiopia (and) the collapsing oil prices in lower-income countries like South Sudan will have an impact significantly,” he added.

He appealed to UN member states to act now, telling them: “There are no famines yet. But I must warn you that if we don’t prepare and act now — to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade — we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.

“The truth is, we do not have time on our side, so let’s act wisely — and let’s act fast,” he added. “I do believe that with our expertise and partnerships, we can bring together the teams and the programs necessary to make certain the Covid-19 pandemic does not become a humanitarian and food crisis catastrophe.”