The head of the EU’s disease control agency on Friday warned that COVID-19 could last indefinitely even as global infections slowed by nearly half in the past month and vaccine rollouts gathered pace in parts of the world.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Director Andrea Ammon urged European countries in particular not to drop their guard against a virus that “seems very well adapted to humans” and might require experts to tweak vaccines over time, as is the case with the seasonal flu.
“So we should be prepared that it will remain with us,” Ammon said in an interview.
After the latest harsh wave of a pandemic that started in China more than a year ago, glimmers of hope flickered as an Agence France-Presse database showed the rate of new COVID-19 infections has slowed by 44.5 percent worldwide over the past month.
More than 107 million people have been infected worldwide and nearly 2.4 million have died from COVID-19.
However, disease experts warned that vaccines would not end the pandemic unless all countries receive doses in a fast and fair manner.
Writing in an open letter published in The Lancet medical journal, the authors said with vaccine stockpiling in wealthier countries, “it could be years before the coronavirus is brought under control at a global level.”
The warning came as US vaccine maker Moderna said it was seeking clearance with regulators around the world to put 50 percent more COVID-19 vaccine into each of its vials as a way to quickly boost current supply levels.
In Britain, a marked drop in infections and accelerating vaccinations have prompted some within the governing Conservative Party to push for stay-at-home rules to be lifted early next month.
Much of the country re-entered lockdown early last month to curb a more transmissible COVID-19 variant that was first identified in the UK.
The British government nonetheless voiced caution, a watchword echoed elsewhere, including Italy, Portugal and Australia.
In Australia, more than 6 million people in Melbourne and its surrounding area were under an emergency five-day COVID-19 lockdown.
In related news, a member of the WHO-led team that visited China to probe the origins of the pandemic yesterday said that Beijing refused to give raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the investigators, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the outbreak began.
The team had requested raw patient data on the 174 cases of COVID-19 that China had identified from the early phase of the outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019, as well as other cases, but were only provided with a summary, said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert.
Such raw data are known as “line listings” and would typically be anonymized, but contain details such as what questions were asked of individual patients, their responses and how their responses were analyzed, he said in a video call from Sydney, where he is undergoing quarantine.
“That’s standard practice for an outbreak investigation,” he told Reuters in the video call.
He said that gaining access to the raw data was especially important since only half of the 174 cases had exposure to the Huanan market, the now-shuttered wholesale seafood center in Wuhan where the virus was initially detected.
SOLVED: Domestic orders have already overtaken the total sold to China last year, while the Canadian and US representative offices posted messages of support A joint effort by groups and individuals in Taiwan and abroad to prop up sales of pineapples after China announced a ban on imports of the fruit succeeded in just four days, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. China on Friday announced that it would suspend imports of Taiwanese pineapples starting on Monday, citing biosafety concerns. Following the announcement, the council urged the public to assist farmers by purchasing pineapples, saying it hoped to sell 20,000 tonnes of the fruit domestically and 30,000 tonnes in exports. “Domestic orders have already surpassed the total sold to China last year,” COA Minister
MAIN CHALLENGE: The US naval commander warned that China would seek to ‘forcibly change’ the balance of power in the region that would likely be permanent The US encourages Taiwan to invest in defense and obtain asymmetric defense capabilities, US Navy Admiral Philip Davidson said on Thursday. Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, made the remark in a videoconference on defense matters hosted by the American Enterprise Institute think tank. “China is positioned to achieve overmatch” in its military capability by 2026, he said. When Beijing is able to, it would “likely choose to forcibly change” the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, “and I would say the change in that status quo could be permanent,” he said. “China seeks a new world order, one with Chinese characteristics,
PRIORITY: The 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are to be distributed first to front-line healthcare workers who are most at risk of infection, the center said The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines — 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca drug — arrived in Taiwan yesterday morning, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. The vaccines were flown to Taiwan by Korean Air and arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 10:21am, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “After being cleared by customs, the vaccines have been transported to a designated cold storage center,” Chen said. “The vaccines are in multidose vials containing 10 doses per bottle, and are being stored in a refrigerated environment of 2°C to 8°C,” he said. AstraZeneca provided the
SETTING THE TONE: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington would seek to collaborate with Beijing when it can, but would be ‘adversarial when it must be’ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked US President Joe Biden’s administration after it issued interim guidance on strategic priorities, including reaffirming support for Taiwan. The 23-page Interim National Security Strategic Guidance report, published by the White House on Wednesday, said that the US would “support Taiwan, a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner, in line with longstanding American commitments.” Since his inauguration in January, Biden’s administration has expressed robust support for Taiwan and said that the US’ security commitment to the nation was “rock solid,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. Taiwan and the US share the same ideals