Latin America and the Caribbean on Friday passed 1 million COVID-19 deaths as the IMF proposed a US$50 billion plan to end the pandemic, aiming to expand global immunization drives.
Since COVID-19 was first detected in Latin America in Sao Paulo in late February last year, Agence France-Presse has recorded more than 1,001,400 fatalities — almost 30 percent of the global total — and more than 31.5 million cases.
Nearly 90 percent of those deaths have been recorded in just five countries: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Peru.
“People aren’t taking care, none of us are being careful and we want to go out and travel,” said Alicia Sepulveda, a resident of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which went on a nine-day lockdown beginning yesterday after Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said it was facing its “worst moment” yet in the pandemic.
Latin America suffers from a lack of access to vaccines and medical supplies, and has only finished immunizing 3 percent of its population, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
Globally, the real number of dead from the pandemic was “at least two to three times higher than officially reported,” Samira Asma, the WHO’s assistant director-general in charge of data, told reporters.
In Washington, the IMF proposed a US$50 billion recovery plan with the aim of having at least 60 percent of the world’s population vaccinated by the end of next year.
The amount pales in comparison to the massive stimulus rolled out by rich nations, including the latest US$1.9 trillion US package.
“One of the key messages of this proposal is that the amount that’s needed is not very big,” IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said.
Meanwhile, vaccine firms pledged to supply billions of doses to poorer nations by the end of next year at the Global Health Summit in Rome, which was part of the G20 talks.
Vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson promised 3.5 billion doses at cost or discount to middle and low-income countries this year and next.
“It is a very clear ‘no’ to health nationalism,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the G20 after the EU pledged 100 million doses and to invest in manufacturing hubs in Africa to reduce reliance on imports.
Germany chipped in later on Friday, donating 30 million doses to poorer countries this year.
Vaccines are offering hope that nations can finally emerge from the pandemic that has ravaged the global economy and killed more than 3.4 million people since the end of 2019.
In Europe, the tourism sector looked on track to start a cautious resumption as Spain said it would open its borders to all immunized travelers from June 7.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also said that all British travelers would be welcomed in for holidays — without even needing to present a negative COVID-19 test.
However, in sharp contrast, Germany said it would from today require people arriving from the UK to quarantine for two weeks because of the spread there of a coronavirus variant first found in India.
Germany on Friday opened beer gardens, terraces and pools in some parts of the country for the first time in months.
RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE: People must wear a mask when outdoors, while employers should allow working from home or flexible hours, Chen Shih-chung said The Cabinet yesterday extended a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert until June 28 as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported 211 locally transmitted cases and 26 deaths. The CECC on May 15 issued the level 3 alert for Taipei and New Taipei City, saying it would last until May 28. Four days later, it expanded the alert to the entire nation before announcing on May 28 that the alert period had been extended to Monday next week. The latest extension was announced following a disease prevention meeting at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung
PRIORITY GROUPS: A line of people were waiting at the Good Liver Clinic, apparently to get shots, while the CECC announced more priority groups for jabs The Taipei-based Good Liver Clinic is to be fined NT$2 million (US$72,028) after giving free COVID-19 vaccine shots to people not in groups eligible to receive them, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday. The Zhongshan District (中山)-based clinic was removed from the city’s list of vaccination venues and health officials would be investigated for giving 1,113 doses to the clinic, Huang told an afternoon news conference at Taipei City Hall. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Tuesday in an exclusive story citing an anonymous tip reported that a Taipei clinic was doling out unused vaccines. People in
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged
NUMBERS HAVE FALLEN: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said there are good signs, but ‘we cannot afford to let our guard down now’ The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 219 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and 22 deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 219 local infections — 117 male and 102 female — were aged from under five to over 100 years old, and they began having symptoms between May 22 and Monday. New Taipei City reported 123 cases, followed by Taipei with 54, Miaoli County with 16, Taoyuan with 13, Keelung with eight, Changhua County with two, and one each in Hsinchu City, Taichung and Tainan. The 22 deaths were 15 men and