Viruses: first vaccinations in Japan, fall in the number of cases worldwide

Japan in turn launched its anti-Covid vaccination campaign on Wednesday, while the WHO reported a 16% drop in new cases worldwide but hastened to warn that “the fire does not is not off “.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden called “to strike hard” to economically support the population facing the ravages of the pandemic, with a gigantic rescue plan of 1.900 billion dollars.

In Japan, volunteer health professionals were the first to receive the vaccine on Wednesday following the green light obtained on Sunday by the Pfizer group in the archipelago.

Vaccination will not be extended to the elderly until April at the earliest, according to the minister responsible for overseeing the deployment of vaccines, Taro Kono, and no date has been put forward for the rest of the population.

In addition, and while the Japanese authorities repeat that the Olympics, which should have been held last summer, will take place in July regardless of the state of the pandemic elsewhere in the world, the minister said “not consider “the event for the immunization schedule in the country.

The central issue of vaccination will also be on the menu of the UN Security Council on Wednesday. Mexico has announced that it will raise the issue of unequal access to vaccines in Latin American countries compared to producing countries like the United States. The distribution “is not fair,” said its president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The United Kingdom for its part will call for pressure for temporary ceasefires in conflict zones to vaccinate against the coronavirus.

A woman is administered an anti-covid vaccine on February 16, 2021 in Los Angeles (United States) (AFP – Apu GOMES)

“We have a moral duty to act and a strategic need to unite to overcome this virus”, argued the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab.

– “He will come back in force” –

The World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled figures on Tuesday evening showing a sharp drop in covid-related infections and deaths around the world last week. But she is careful not to claim victory.

The number of new cases fell 16% to 2.7 million cases, she said. The number of new deaths reported also fell 10% from the previous week, to 81,000.

Five of the six regions of the world taken into account reported a double-digit drop in the number of new cases, with only the eastern Mediterranean showing an increase, of 7%.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday the number of new cases fell for a fifth week in a row, falling almost in half from the more than five million cases recorded in the week of January 4. .

A vaccination team meets the population in the mountain village of Guneyyamac (Turkey) on February 15, 2021 (AFP - BULENT KILIC)
A vaccination team meets the population in the mountain village of Guneyyamac (Turkey) on February 15, 2021 (AFP – BULENT KILIC)

“This shows that simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants,” he said.

“What matters now is how we react to this trend. The fire is not extinguished, but we have reduced its size. If we stop fighting it on any front, it will come back with a vengeance. “.

– Biden wants to “hit hard” –

In the United States, President Joe Biden has defended his economic rescue plan, which he wishes to have adopted without waiting for a hypothetical consensus in Congress, in the hope of creating “7 million jobs this year”.

Two men walk through a plastic tunnel intended to isolate covid patients on February 16, 2021 in Bogota (AFP - Juan BARRETO)
Two men walk through a plastic tunnel intended to isolate covid patients on February 16, 2021 in Bogota (AFP – Juan BARRETO)

“You have to spend now, you have to hit hard,” he said. “69% of Americans support my plan!” Said Joe Biden during a “town hall”, a forum where he answered questions posed by citizens. “The country is not as divided as it is said.”

When will we return to normal? “By Christmas we will be in a very different situation than today,” he cautiously replied.

The future director of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for her part promised to promote access for poor countries to vaccines against Covid-19.

“I think the WTO can do more to help resolve the Covid-19 pandemic by helping to improve poor countries’ access to vaccines,” she said.

“It is really in the interest of each country to see everyone get vaccinated,” she added in an interview with AFP on Tuesday.

– “Curfew tonight too” –

In the Netherlands, Tuesday was marked by a judgment by a court in The Hague, ruling that the government-imposed curfew represented “a profound violation of the right to freedom of movement and to privacy” and should be immediately “lifted”.

But this announcement was almost immediately contradicted by an appeals court which suspended it pending a hearing on Friday.

“The curfew is valid, this evening too”, reacted on Twitter the Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Vehicles stranded at the German border in Strazny, Czech Republic, on February 15, 2021 (AFP - Michal Cizek)
Vehicles stranded at the German border in Strazny, Czech Republic, on February 15, 2021 (AFP – Michal Cizek)

For its part, the European Commission has urged member states to avoid border closures and general travel bans, as recently decided by Germany and Belgium to fight against variants of the virus.

The difficult European coordination on these restrictions which hinder free movement in the EU will be one of the hot topics of the February 25 summit.

In Asia, North Korean hackers have sought to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to find information on the vaccine and treatments for the coronavirus, according to media citing South Korean intelligence.

In Australia, the lockdown order will be lifted on Wednesday evening for the six million Australians living in the state of Victoria, the second most populous in the country, but doubts still hang over the possibility for tennis fans to attend the Australian Open, which takes place in Melbourne.

burs-ahe / roc


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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