New COVID-19 deaths surged past 4,000 for the first time in India on Saturday in one of the world’s worst outbreaks, as EU pressure mounted on Washington to end vaccine export limits and offer a concrete plan to lift patents.
“I call very clearly on the United States to put an end to export bans not only on vaccines, but on vaccine ingredients, which prevent production,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at an EU summit in Porto.
He was referring to a de facto US ban on the export of vaccine raw materials.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU had exported much of its own production and the US should follow suit.
“I do not think that a patent waiver is the solution to make more vaccines available to more people,” she said in Berlin. “Rather, I think that we need the creativity and the power of innovation of companies — and to me, that includes patent protection.”
Earlier, Pope Francis had focused on his desire to see patent waivers to “allow universal access to the vaccine.”
He called for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights, condemning the “virus of individualism” that “makes us indifferent to the suffering of others.”
The call for waivers has gained momentum after the US announced surprise support for such a scheme to enable adequate vaccine supplies to fight COVID-19.
In an interview, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said: “Early signs were missed [in India] until it reached the point at which it was taking off vertically,” meaning “it’s multiplying at a rate at which it’s very difficult to stop.”
As India battles to stem the rising tide, Africa is fretting over a potential knock-on effect regarding vaccine supplies for the continent.
“We are watching in total horror and disbelief what is going on in India and we don’t expect that vaccines will be shipped out of India any time soon,” the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cameroonian virologist John Nkengasong, told an online meetings of African Union health ministers.
An African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team is hoping to acquire vaccines through its program by the end of July, but Nkengasong said he hoped that date could be brought forward.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the meeting: “What’s happening now in many other parts of the world can happen in our Africa if we let down our guard,” while dubbing the inequitable distribution of vaccines “not just a moral outrage. It’s also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating.”
Earlier on Saturday, Madagascar received its first batch of vaccines through the COVAX global sharing scheme, one of the last African countries to obtain supplies after months of resistance by Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina.
By yesterday, the global pandemic had killed more than 3.28 million people since emerging in China in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday issued a rebuttal to former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who said a fistfight in the Legislative Yuan might have been “provoked from the outside” to destabilize Taiwan. Rice made the comment in an online discussion about the AUKUS alliance of Australia, the UK and the US hosted by the Policy Exchange forum in London on Thursday. On mention of Taiwan, she was quoted by The Australian as predicting that Beijing would use paramilitary forces and acts of sabotage to destabilize the nation. “There was a fistfight in the Taiwanese parliament a few weeks ago
ADVANCING TECH: With revenue on target to reach US$15.4 billion, the Hsinchu-based chipmaker said it is looking to produce 3-nanometer chips later this year Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday announced plans to build a new plant in Japan next year to produce 22-nanometer and 28-nanometer chips in its latest effort to expand its global manufacturing footprint. The Japanese fab is to start operations in 2024, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker said, ending months of speculation. “We have received strong commitment to supporting this project from our customers and the Japanese government,” TSMC chief executive officer C.C. Wei (魏哲家) told a quarterly investors’ conference. “We believe the expansion of our global manufacturing footprint will enable us to better serve our customers’ needs and reach global talent,
KNOWN ISSUES: Fire safety issues were found in the 40-year-old building, which previously housed a theater and restaurants, in 2019, last year and May, an official said Forty-six people died and 41 were injured in a building fire that raged out of control for hours overnight in Kaohsiung, authorities said yesterday. Flames and smoke billowed from the lower floors of the 13-story Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building on Fubei Road in Yancheng District (鹽埕), as firefighters tried to douse the blaze from the street and aerial platforms. The death toll rose steadily through the day as rescue workers searched the combined commercial and residential building. By late afternoon, authorities said 32 bodies had been found, while a further 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55
China’s recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan was necessary to defend sovereignty and territory, a Chinese official said yesterday, prompting Taipei to say that it had sabotaged peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China’s military flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan on a single day earlier this month, a single-day record that capped four days of a sustained pressure campaign involving 149 flights in international airspace. The purpose of the maneuvers was to “fundamentally safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the vital interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan