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COVID-19

G20 targets raising $1.5 billion for global pandemic fund, says host Indonesia

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(Last Updated On: June 20, 2022)

The Group of 20 (G20) major economies aims to raise $1.5 billion this year for a fund set up to better prepare for future pandemics, the health minister of current G20 president Indonesia said on Friday.

G20 countries have provisionally agreed to set up a multi-billion dollar fund that health officials have said will finance efforts like surveillance, research, and better access to vaccination for lower-to-middle income countries, among others. 

Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in an interview the United States, European Union, Indonesia, Singapore and Germany have pledged about $1.1 billion to the fund so far.

“If we can get by the end of this year $1.5 billion of fresh funding, we will be very, very happy,” he told Reuters, adding he hopes the group can raise another $1.5 billion next year.

Indonesia will host the G20 leaders summit in Bali in November.

The World Bank, which will house the fund, and the World Health Organization (WHO), which is advising on the facility, estimated in a report that the annual funding gap for pandemic preparedness is $10.5 billion.

Budi said he will start discussing contributions to the fund with countries like Japan and Britain at a G20 health ministers meeting in Indonesia next week.

“Pandemic is a war, and we have to be ready with enough money when war happens,” he said.

The United States and Indonesia have been pushing for the establishment of the fund to help the world be better prepared to tackle future pandemics, but the WHO has been concerned the fund could undermine its own efforts and those of other global health mechanisms.

But Budi said the WHO will play “a leadership role” in identifying which countries would need the fund or provide other countermeasures.

The World Bank has said the fund is expected to be operational this year, and Budi said the structure for the fund could be established in a few months’ time.

COVID-19

India records spike in daily COVID cases and 21 deaths in 24 hours

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

India logged 17,073 new COVID-19 cases early Monday morning, raising its tally to 43,407,046, and 21 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry reported.

The death toll now stands at 525,020.

The national COVID-19 recovery rate was 98.57 percent, the ministry said.

Pakistan’s ministry of health meanwhile reported Monday that it had recorded 382 new cases in the last 24 hours.

This took Pakistan’s COVID-19 total case count to over 1.53 million. Two deaths were also reported in the past 24 hours.

However, experts say Pakistan may potentially witness another COVID-19 wave as the country continues to see an uptick in new cases.

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COVID-19

Pfizer says tweaked COVID-19 shots boost omicron protection

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Pfizer announced Saturday that tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and works — just days before US regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall.

The vaccines currently used in the US still offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death — especially if people have gotten a booster dose, AP reported.

But those vaccines target the original coronavirus strain and their effectiveness against any infection dropped markedly when the super-contagious omicron mutant emerged.

Now with omicron’s even more transmissible relatives spreading widely, the US Food and Drug Administration is considering ordering a recipe change for the vaccines made by both Pfizer and rival Moderna in hopes that modified boosters could better protect against another COVID-19 surge expected this fall and winter.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech studied two different ways of updating their shots — targeting just omicron, or a combination booster that adds omicron protection to the original vaccine. They also tested whether to keep today’s standard dosage — 30 micrograms — or to double the shots’ strength.

In a study of more than 1,200 middle-aged and older adults who’d already had three vaccine doses, Pfizer said both booster approaches spurred a substantial jump in omicron-fighting antibodies.

“Based on these data, we believe we have two very strong omicron-adapted candidates,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

Pfizer’s omicron-only booster sparked the strongest immune response against that variant.

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COVID-19

India sees surge in new COVID-19 infections

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(Last Updated On: June 23, 2022)

India’s ministry of health on Thursday reported they have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country in the past 24 hours.

According to the health ministry, 13,313 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, compared to 12,249 cases on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry, 10,972 people have recovered from the infection which took the total number of recoveries to over 42 million.

With the recorded cases, India’s active caseload now stands at 83,990.

The ministry also said 38 people have died in the last 24 hours due to the infection, taking the total number of deaths to 524,941.

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