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World experts and funders set priorities for COVID-19 research

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From WHO/Getty Images

#WorldHealthOrganization, February 19, 2020 — Leading health experts from around the world have been meeting at the World Health Organization’s Geneva headquarters to assess the current level of knowledge about the new COVID-19 disease, identify gaps and work together to accelerate and fund priority research needed to help stop this outbreak and prepare for any future outbreaks.

The 2-day forum was convened in line with the WHO R&D Blueprint – a strategy for developing drugs and vaccines before epidemics, and accelerating research and development while they are occurring.

WHO photo

“This outbreak is a test of solidarity — political, financial and scientific. We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems. Research is an integral part of the outbreak response,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I appreciate the positive response of the research community to join us at short notice and come up with concrete plans and commitment to work together.”

The meeting, hosted in collaboration with GloPID-R (the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness) brought together major research funders and over 300 scientists and researchers from a large variety of disciplines. They discussed all aspects of the outbreak and ways to control it including:

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  • the natural history of the virus, its transmission and diagnosis;
  • animal and environmental research on the origin of the virus, including management measures at the human-animal interface;
  • epidemiological studies;
  • clinical characterization and management of disease caused by the virus;
  • infection prevention and control, including best ways to protect health care workers;
  • research and development for candidate therapeutics and vaccines;
  • ethical considerations for research;
  • and integration of social sciences into the outbreak response.

“This meeting allowed us to identify the urgent priorities for research. As a group of funders we will continue to mobilize, coordinate and align our funding to enable the research needed to tackle this crisis and stop the outbreak, in partnership with WHO,” said Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, chair of GloPID-R. “Equitable access – making sure we share data and reach those most in need,  in particular those in lower and middle-income countries, is fundamental to this work which must be guided by ethical considerations at all times.”  

File Photo, WHO Novel Coronavirus meeting

During the meeting, the more than 300 scientists and researchers participating both in person and virtually agreed on a set of global research priorities. They also outlined mechanisms for continuing scientific interactions and collaborations beyond the meeting which will be coordinated and facilitated by WHO. They worked with research funders to determine how necessary resources can be mobilized so that critical research can start immediately.

The deliberations will form the basis of a research and innovation roadmap charting all the research needed and this will be used by researchers and funders to accelerate the research response.

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How Liz Truss became the New Prime Minister of the UK

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#UnitedKingdom, September 18, 2022 – Liz Truss was on Tuesday September 6, sworn in as the 15th British Prime Minister by Queen Elizabeth II; an act recorded as one the monarch’s final duties before passing away less than two days later.

Truss, as the new Prime Minister of the UK became only the third woman to hold the position in the 221 year history of the country’s  Parliament.

Truss defeated candidate Rishi Sunak bagging 57 percent or 81 thousand of the eligible votes. Sunak received 60 thousand of the eligible votes.

Sunak had been the overwhelming favorite among MPs in the lead up to the campaign but lagged behind in the polls with actual voters. Truss had been a mostly unwavering supporter of outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson who still had a large swath of loyal conservative voters in his corner.

Sunak on the other hand was seen as the ball that got an avalanche of conservative resignations rolling several weeks ago in response to Johnson’s repeated scandalous behavior during lockdown and in early 2022. Those resignations led to Johnson’s eventual ousting from the position as Prime Minister.

During her first speech as Prime Minister Truss thanked Sunak for the ‘hard won campaign’ and proceeded to thank,

‘My friend Boris Johnson’ and praising his accomplishments she told him.

“You are admired from Kiev to Carlisle.”

Truss promised to cut taxes and deliver on the energy crises. UK citizens are suffering with some of the highest energy prices in decades pushing many families into instability even as the country’s blindingly cold winters approach. Prices have continued to soar as the West and Russia remain at odds over the invasion of Ukraine and Russia slows energy deliveries to a trickle.

After the announcement of her victory fellow candidate Rishi Sunak said, “Thank you to everyone who voted for me in this campaign. I’ve said throughout that the Conservatives are one family. It’s right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times.”

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WHO gets a bad report about COVID management

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

September 18, 2022 – A new report by the Lancet Commission, a scientific body, investigating the response to COVID19 is recommending that the WHO and other agencies place more focus on the origins of the COVID19 virus which remain murky.

“As a Commission, we strongly support the call for an objective, open, data-driven, transparent, and independent scientific debate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2.44,  45 WHO, governments, and the scientific community should intensify the search for the origin of SARS-CoV-2, including a possible natural spillover or a possible research-related spillover,” the report maintained.

The Commission says it has not ruled out the possibility that COVID emerged from a genetically altered virus or that it emerged from an animal.

“As of the time of publication of this report, all three research-associated hypotheses are still plausible: infection in the field, infection with a natural virus in the laboratory, and infection with a manipulated virus in the laboratory.”

The Lancet went on to cite the heavy secrecy surrounding investigations surrounding other coronaviruses that governments including the United States had been researching at that time. The report stressed that in the absence of this sort of unbiased and rigorous research by a transparent team of experts the ‘public’s trust in science will be imperiled with potentially grave long-term repercussions.’

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What Fiona did to Guadeloupe, USVI and how Puerto Rico and DR are preparing

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GUADELOUPE

Tropical Storm Fiona turned deadly on Saturday when a man, was reported dead in Guadeloupe following the passing of Fiona on Friday. Reports are that the unidentified man was swept away with his house in the country’s capital. Over twenty (20) other people were rescued amid heavy wind and rain.

The projected rainfall for the island was more than eight inches. This resulted in heavy road damage. We saw videos on social media showing heavily flooded streets and cars being washed away and stacked onto each other.

US VIRGIN ISLANDS

At last check, the centre of Fiona was expected to move near or south of the US Virgin Islands on Saturday evening. The islands were forecast to receive about 4 to 6 inches of rain with a local maximum of 10 inches possible. No damage has been reported on the islands so far.

However, both airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands were closed at 6 pm on Saturday.

PUERTO RICO

A quarter of a million people are without electricity in Puerto Rico due to tropical storm Fiona.  Described as still fragile from the ravages of Hurricane Maria, the island nation’s electricity grid is already failing and PR is bracing for a tough time with the system which has already caused significant destruction and claimed at least one life.

Later today Puerto Rico is expected to be impacted by the storm,  that could include as much as two feet of rain; the island is under Hurricane Warning.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Tormenta Fiona as our Spanish speaking friends in the Dom Rep call it… has put at least 13 provinces in near by DR on red alert, that includes San Cristobal, San Pedros de Marcois and El Gran Santo Domingo this according to the Listin Diario.  The country is bracing for a strong system, as Fiona is expected to become a hurricane today and for the next two days continue to strengthen.  She is also a huge system, 140 miles from the center is how far out those intense storm conditions extend.

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