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Chinese Covid vaccine gets WHO emergency approval

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A woman receives a dose of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19 during a mass vaccination campaign at the Boris Trajkovski Arena in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, 05 May 2021.IMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA
image captionThe vaccine has already been given to millions of people

The World Health Organization (WHO) has granted emergency approval for the Covid vaccine made by Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm.

It is the first vaccine developed by a non-Western country to get WHO backing.

The vaccine has already been given to millions of people in China and elsewhere.

The WHO had previously only approved the vaccines made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

But individual health regulators in various countries – especially poorer ones in Africa, Latin America and Asia – have approved Chinese jabs for emergency use.

With little data released internationally early on, the effectiveness of the various Chinese vaccines has long been uncertain.

But the WHO on Friday said it had validated the “safety, efficacy and quality” of the Sinopharm jab.

The WHO said the addition of the vaccine had “the potential to rapidly accelerate Covid-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk”.

It is recommending that the vaccine be administered in two doses to those aged 18 and over.

A decision is expected in the coming days on another Chinese vaccine developed by Sinovac, while Russia’s Sputnik vaccine is under assessment.

Why does WHO backing matter?

The green light from the global health body is a guideline for national regulators that a vaccine is safe and effective.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it would give countries “confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval”.

It also means that the vaccine can be used in the global Covax programme, which was set up last year to try to ensure fair access to vaccines among rich and poor nations.

The decision to list the Chinese vaccine for emergency use is expected to give a substantial boost to the scheme, which has been struggling with supply problems.

Prior to the WHO approval, the Sinopharm vaccine was already being widely used, with an estimated 65 million doses administered, according to reports.

In addition to China, countries already using the vaccine include the UAE, Pakistan and Hungary.

The decision on Friday to approve the vaccine for emergency use was made by the WHO’s technical advisory group, which reviewed its latest clinical data and manufacturing practices.

It said the efficacy of the vaccine for symptomatic and hospitalised cases of Covid-19 was estimated to be 79%.

The WHO noted that few adults over the age of 60 were included in clinical trials, so efficacy could not be estimated for this age group. But it said there was no reason to think that the vaccine would act differently in older recipients.

The health body is yet to reach a decision on China’s Sinovac vaccine. WHO experts on Friday said they were awaiting additional information before they could make a recommendation.

Millions of doses of that vaccine have also already been shipped to a number of countries, which have permitted its emergency usage.

One of the Chinese vaccines’ main advantages is that they can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius, like the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The WHO said these “easy storage requirements” made the Sinopharm vaccine “highly suitable for low-resource settings”.

How do the Chinese shots work?

The two Chinese vaccines differ significantly from some of the other Covid vaccines currently in use, especially those by Pfizer and Moderna.

Developed in a more traditional way, they are so-called inactivated vaccines, which means they use killed viral particles to expose the immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.

 

Graphic

By comparison, the BioNtech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. This means part of the coronavirus’ genetic code is injected into the body, training the immune system how to respond to it.

The UK’s AstraZeneca vaccine is yet another type of vaccine where a version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees is modified to contain genetic material shared by the coronavirus. Once injected, it teaches the immune system how to fight the real virus.

BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna have an efficacy rate of around 90% or higher, while the AstraZeneca jab is thought to be around 76%.

In April, China’s top disease control official said the efficacy of the country’s Covid vaccines was low, although he later insisted his comments had been misinterpreted.

Bbc.com

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PHOTOS: Villagers erect massive penis statue to bring forth rain

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Villagers in Yothaka, in Thailand’s Chachoengsao province, ended a period of drought by building a giant erect penis statue.

Farmers in the area had been concerned that there hadn’t been enough rain recently and that water from irrigation canals was too salty and had been damaging crops.

To call forth the rain, a giant penis statue, or “Palad Khik”, was erected on Jun 9.

This week. local village headman, Chamnan Kenthongdaeng, 52, told a press conference that on June 11, just two days after the giant penis was installed it had started raining, with a shower that lasted about half an hour.

Koson Samang, the headman of a nearby village, had made a video of the rain as proof.

However, local farmers complained that the brief shower hadn’t been long enough to irrigate their fields.

Chamnan 52, promised that prayers to the phallus will continue.

 

Villagers erect massive penis statue to bring forth rain

He told Pattaya News that erecting a Palad Khik, representing fertility and new growth, was a local tradition going back decades, to the time of his grandparents.

Chamnan said that the giant penis, built in the middle of the road, wouldn’t cause any problems with traffic, because it was built on a cul-de-sac.

 

Villagers erect massive penis statue to bring forth rain

“It will be removed as soon as the seasonal rain comes,” he promised.

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G7 to agree tough measures on burning coal to tackle climate change

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Boris Johnson and David Attenborough talking in front of a projection of EarthIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionDavid Attenborough (right) is to address the summit

World leaders meeting in Cornwall are to adopt strict measures on coal-fired power stations as part of the battle against climate change.

The G7 group will promise to move away from coal plants, unless they have technology to capture carbon emissions.

It comes as Sir David Attenborough warned that humans could be “on the verge of destabilising the entire planet”.

He said G7 leaders faced the most important decisions in human history.

The coal announcement came from the White House, which said it was the first time the leaders of wealthy nations had committed to keeping the projected global temperature rise to 1.5C.

That requires a range of urgent policies, chief among them being phasing out coal burning unless it includes carbon capture technology.

Coal is the world’s dirtiest major fuel and ending its use is seen as a major step by environmentalists, but they also want guarantees rich countries will deliver on previous promises to help poorer nations cope with climate change.

The G7 will end the funding of new coal generation in developing countries and offer up to £2bn ($2.8bn)to stop using the fuel. Climate change has been one of the key themes at the three-day summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with other G7 leaders, 12 JuneIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionThe G7 summit is being held in the resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, south-west England

Leaders of the seven major industrialised nations – the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy – are expected to set out plans to reduce emissions from farming, transport, and the making of steel and cement.

They will commit to protecting 30% of global land and marine areas for nature by 2030. They are also expected to pledge to almost halve their emissions by 2030, relative to 2010 levels. The UK has already surpassed that commitment.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a news conference on Sunday afternoon, the final day of a summit where he has clashed with EU leaders over the Brexit deal’s requirements for checks on goods from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden relax between sessions of the G7 summit in Cornwall, 12 JuneIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionAfter the summit US President Joe Biden – shown here with President Macron of France – will have tea with the Queen

‘Plain to see’

A video message from Sir David Attenborough was played to world leaders in Cornwall on Sunday as they set out their plans for meeting emissions targets.

Speaking beforehand, Sir David said: “The natural world today is greatly diminished… Our climate is warming fast. That is beyond doubt. Our societies and nations are unequal and that is sadly plain to see.

“But the question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet.”

He said the decisions facing the world’s richest countries were “the most important in human history”.

As well as the measures on coal and ending almost all direct government support for the fossil fuel sector overseas, the G7 is expected to phase out petrol and diesel cars.

BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin said there had been “a crucial lack of detail on two questions so far: the proposed green masterplan to help developing countries get clean technology and the amount of cash richer [countries] will hand to the poorer to tackle the climate crisis”.

China, which according to one report was responsible for 27% of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2019 – the most of any country – is not part of the G7.

What is climate change?

The Earth’s average temperature is about 15C (59F) but has been much higher and lower in the past.

There are natural fluctuations in the climate but scientists say temperatures are now rising faster than at many other times.

This is linked to the greenhouse effect, which describes how the Earth’s atmosphere traps some of the Sun’s energy.

Solar energy radiating back to space from the Earth’s surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases and re-emitted in all directions.

This heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface of the planet. Without this effect, the Earth would be about 30C (86F) colder and hostile to life.

 

Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect, with gases released from industry and agriculture trapping more energy and increasing the temperature.

This is known as climate change or global warming. You can read our simple explainer here.

The G7 leaders are also expected to endorse a plan aimed at reversing the loss of biodiversity – a measure of how many different species live in ecosystems – by the end of the decade.

Mr Johnson is also launching a £500m fund to protect the world’s oceans and marine life.

The “blue planet fund” will help countries including Ghana, Indonesia and Pacific Island states, tackle unsustainable fishing, protect and restore coastal ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs, and reduce marine pollution.

A major UN report from 2019 said that global emissions of carbon dioxide must peak by 2020 to keep the planet from warming by more than 1.5C.

Graphic showing the faces of each leader

BBC.COM

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Macron ‘slapper’ bags 4-month prison sentence

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A 28-year-old Frenchman who described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right “patriot” was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday for slapping President Emmanuel Macron in the face.

Damien Tarel was also banned from ever holding public office in France and from owning weapons for five years over the swipe Tuesday, which caught Macron’s left cheek with an audible thwack as the French leader was greeting a crowd.

During Thursday’s trial, Tarel testified that the attack was impulsive and unplanned, and prompted by anger at France’s “decline.”

He sat straight and showed no emotion as the court in the southeastern city of Valence convicted him on a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority. He was sentenced to four months in prison and handed an additional 14-month suspended sentence. His girlfriend broke down in tears.

Tarel, who shouted a centuries-old royalist war cry as he hit the president, described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right “patriot” and member of the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook Macron’s presidency in 2018 and 2019.

Poised and calm, he firmly defended his action and his views on Macron, without providing details of what policies he wants France to change.

Tarel acknowledged hitting the president with a “rather violent” slap. “When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction,” he told the court. “It was an impulsive reaction… I was surprised myself by the violence.”

While he said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, he said they dropped the idea — and insisted that the slap wasn’t premeditated.

“I think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country,” he said, without explaining what he meant.

He told investigators that he held right- or ultra-right political convictions without being a member of a party or group, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The slap called attention to an assortment of ultra-right groups bubbling beneath France’s political landscape, which are considered increasingly dangerous despite their small following.

Macron wouldn’t comment Thursday on the trial, but insisted that “nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, ever.”

“It’s not such a big deal to get a slap when you go toward a crowd to say hello to some people who were waiting for a long time,” he said in an interview with broadcaster BFM-TV. “We must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is.”

At the same time, the president added, “we must not make it banal, because anyone with public authority is entitled to respect.”

Another man arrested in the ruckus that followed the slap, identified by the prosecutor as Arthur C., will be judged at a later date, in 2022, for illegal possession of weapons.

The prosecutor’s office said as well as finding weapons, police who searched the home of Arthur C. also found books on the art of war, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf,” and two flags, one symbolizing Communists and another of the Russian revolution.

Neither Tarel nor Arthur C., also 28, had police records, the prosecutor said.

While crimes in France often take months or years to reach trial, in this case authorities used a special emergency procedure to hold a trial within just two days of the slap. Tarel did not object to the procedure.

Videos showed Macron’s attacker slapping the French leader’s left cheek and his bodyguards pushing the man away during a quick meet-and-greet with members of the public, who were kept back behind traffic barriers in the winemaking town of Tain-l’Hermitage.

The attacker was heard to cry out “Montjoie! Saint Denis!” a centuries-old royalist war cry, before finishing with “A bas la Macronie,” or “Down with Macron.”

 

Source: Adomonline

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