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COVAX programme delivers 1 bn doses to poor countries

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A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the Covax Facility arrives in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the Covax Facility arrives in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

* India records a 40% spike in COVID-19 infections over a week

* Britain plans to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law

*Australian PM laments shortage of at-home antigen test kits

SWITZERLAND,INDIA,UK: The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday that a UN-backed programme shipping coronavirus vaccines to many poor countries has now delivered 1 billion doses, but that milestone “is only a reminder of the work that remains” after hoarding and stockpiling in rich countries.

A shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda on Saturday included the billionth dose supplied via the COVAX programme, the U.N. health agency said.

WHO has long criticised unequal distribution of vaccines and called for manufacturers and other countries to prioritise COVAX. It said that, as of Thursday, 36 of its 194 member countries had vaccinated less than 10% of their population and 88 had vaccinated less than 40%.

The programme has made deliveries to 144 countries so far, “but the work that has gone into this milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains,” WHO said in a statement.

At the end of December, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged everyone to make a “new year’s resolution” to get behind a campaign to vaccinate 70% of countries’ populations by the beginning of July.

Meanwhile, On January 16, India recorded 255,025 new COVID-19 cases, a 40% increase from a week ago. The total number of infections has reached 3.72 crore, and the active cases have crossed the 16.2 lakh mark.

Maharashtra recorded 41,327 cases on January 16, the most for any State, followed by Karnataka (34,047) and Tamil Nadu (23,975).

January 16 marked the completion of one year since India started its vaccination campaign. As of January 16, 89.4% of the eligible population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, while 64.4% have received both doses.

Meanwhile, The Boris Johnson-led Government is planning to scrap the law asking people to self-isolate after catching COVID-19, the Telegraph reported. This is a part of the preparations of having to live with coronavirus in the future.

The official guidance, however, will remain but the no legal punishment or fine will be imposed if the rules are ignored, The Telegraph’s report said. Prime Minister Johnson wants to permanently revoke the emergency provisions like self-isolation since COVID-19 cases have been falling in the country, the report further said.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the shortages of at-home antigen tests were “not unique” to the country as authorities deal with a runaway Omicron outbreak that has driven up hospitalisation rates and strain testing systems.

Australia is facing a shortage of at-home Rapid Antigen Test kits after asymptomatic close contacts were told to bypass Government-funded testing hubs, where high volumes delayed results by several days, and take their own tests.



Tuesday, January 18, 2022 – 01:00

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