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Bill Gates warns countries around the world need to prepare for next pandemic



(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

Bill Gates has a clear message for the world: get ready for the next pandemic.

The Microsoft co-founder told the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney that politicians need to be able to set aside their differences in order to prepare for the next major virus.

But, despite his warnings, Gates praised Australia’s policies that kept the coronavirus from spreading while the world waited for a vaccine.

“Some of the things that stand out are that Australia and about seven other countries did population-scale diagnostics early on and had quarantine policies…that meant you kept the level of infection low in that first year when there were no vaccines,” he tech billionaire turned philanthropist said.

“The one thing that still hangs in the balance is will we have the global capacity and at the regional and country levels that would mean that when an [infectious disease] threat comes up we act in such a way that it doesn’t go global.”

He then went on to stress that leaders need to be revisiting their pandemic policies every few years to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of a mass-scale virus, infection, or disease.

“We need to be doing every five years a comprehensive exercise at both country and regional levels of pandemic preparedness and you need a global group that’s scoring everybody,” he said.

He likened the exercise to workplace fire drills to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.

“That’s definitely a best practice in the future,” Gates said.

Speaking of America, Gates slammed Donald Trump’s Covid-19 policies in the US during his tenure as President, stating that America’s failure to quarantine en masse and scale up diagnostics for the virus was precisely why the nation recorded a staggering 1.1 million deaths.

Gates is currently visiting Australia with members of his Breakthrough Energy company.


New evidence shows origin of COVID could have been raccoon dogs



(Last Updated On: March 18, 2023)

Scientists have uncovered new genetic evidence from the market in Wuhan, China, where COVID cases were first detected in late 2019.

Scientific America reports the findings add support to an animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

These findings were presented to an advisory group convened by the World Health Organization earlier this week.

Florence Débarre, an evolutionary biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research discovered genetic sequences of the virus that researchers in China – led by George Gao, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – had uploaded to a public genomic database called GISAID.

According to Scientific America, the sequences were subsequently taken down but not before several other researchers from different countries downloaded and analyzed them.

Samples containing viral RNA, which had been collected at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in early 2020, also contained genetic material from raccoon dogs – a foxlike animal sold at the market – as well as other animals.

The virus sparked a global pandemic that has killed nearly seven million people, and debate has raged over whether it was caused by a natural spillover from wildlife to humans or a lab leak from a facility studying coronaviruses in Wuhan.

The new evidence does not directly prove that COVID jumped into humans from infected raccoon dogs, but it adds to a growing body of evidence in favor of a spillover from animals, Scientific America reported.

“These data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer,” said the World Health Organization’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a news briefing on Friday.

The scientists who are analyzing the data are currently preparing a report on their findings, which they hope to release in the coming days.

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IEA’s health minister on six-day visit to Qatar



(Last Updated On: March 16, 2023)

The Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Dr. Qalandar Ebad left Kabul on Thursday for a six-day visit to Qatar.

Leading a high-ranking IEA delegation, Ebad will meet with Qatari officials to discuss the coordination of health services with Qatar; building capacity for Afghan doctors; and discussing cooperation and investment in the field of health care in Afghanistan, the ministry said.

The ministry added that Ebad will also visit a number of health care facilities in Qatar while in the Gulf country.

The Ministry of Public Health is trying to raise the level of knowledge and expertise of Afghan doctors so that Afghans will no longer need to go abroad for treatment.

Ebad had previously said that nothing has been done in the health sector in the past twenty years.

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Health ministry launches polio vaccination campaign



(Last Updated On: March 13, 2023)

The Ministry of Public Health of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in collaboration with international partners, launched its first national polio vaccination campaign for 2023 on Monday.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, “the first National Immunization Days (NIDs) for polio eradication for 2023” aims to vaccinate more than 9.4 million children under the age of five against polio.

Vitamin A will also be administered to all children from 6-59 months of age to improve their immunity, the ministry said.

“The leadership of the Ministry of Public Health is strongly committed to eradicating polio from Afghanistan,” said Dr. Qalandar Ebad, the Minister of Public Health.

“The recent progress made in this regard is encouraging. Right now Afghanistan is much closer to polio eradication. Together we can eradicate polio from Afghanistan,” he said.

“The support of all Afghans, including parents, community leaders, ethnic elders, and religious leaders, is critical to eradicate polio and we want them to take part in the fight against polio to save Afghan children from permanent paralysis,” Ebad added.

Poliovirus infection can cause permanent paralysis or even death in affected children.

This year, to date, no polio cases have been reported in Afghanistan. Last year, there were two cases – one in Paktika and one in Kunar.

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