• Coronavirus emerged in many places, Chinese foreign minister says | South China Morning Post

    Coronavirus emerged in many places, Chinese foreign minister says
    China was first to identify the pathogen, but research suggests it was prevalent elsewhere, Wang Yi tells state media Country is ‘resolutely against the politicisation of the pandemic and labelling the virus’, he says
    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China is resolutely against the politicisation of the pandemic.
    Coronavirus evidence is growing that the pathogen emerged in multiple locations around the world, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.“We raced to report the epidemic first,” he said in an interview with Xinhua.“More and more research studies have shown that the pandemic is likely to have emerged in many places around the world.”
    China identified the first cases of a then unknown pneumonia-type disease in Wuhan on December 31, 2019, and soon after closed down a seafood market from where it was thought to have originated. But Beijing insisted it had found no evidence of human-to-human transmissions until three weeks later, a claim that sparked widespread criticism from the West, which accused China of a cover-up. Wang’s comments echo those of some of China’s top health officials and state media, as the government has sought to reshape the narrative on the origin of the virus.In November, Zeng Guang, a former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that although Wuhan was where the coronavirus was first detected it might not have been where it originated.
    Wu Zunyou, the CDC’s incumbent chief epidemiologist, said the virus could have come into the country on frozen seafood or meat products.But Wang is the most senior government official to promote the idea, which has been welcomed domestically but shunned by most Western audiences.
    “We are on the front line of the struggle for public opinion,” he told Xinhua. “We are resolutely against the politicisation of the pandemic and labelling the virus, and will never allow lies to contaminate the objective narrative and collective memory of fighting the pandemic.”
    His comments came as the World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing to send a group of international experts to Wuhan for a six-week mission this month to investigate the origin of the virus based on human and animal samples collected by Chinese researchers.However, George Gao Fu, director of the CDC, said in an interview with Xinhua last week that the WHO team did not have an easy task.“It may take a long time to find the virus,” he said. “It’s also possible that the virus will disappear before we find the origin.”
    Beijing has said repeatedly that similar studies should be conducted in other countries, while Chinese nationalist tabloid newspaper Global Times has called for the WHO team to look into people who visited Wuhan before the outbreak, including foreign athletes who took part in the Military World Games in the city in October 2019.Research conducted in other countries, including Italy and the US, has suggested that the novel coronavirus might have been circulating elsewhere in the world before it was identified in Wuhan and became a pandemic.A study carried out by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found antibodies for Covid-19 in blood samples collected from American subjects on December 13, 2019, two weeks before China announced the pneumonia caused by a new virus..
    A study based on serological samples in Italy suggested their may have been antibodies against the virus as early as September 2019.Those findings, however, are not conclusive. Government records seen by the South China Morning Post in March traced the first Chinese Covid-19 patient back to November 17, 2019 or even earlier, though the case might have been identified retrospectively.
    China’s first confirmed Covid-19 case traced back to November 17, 2019
    14 Mar 2020. Mike Ryan, director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said in November that it would be “highly speculative” for the WHO to say the coronavirus did not emerge in China.“It is clear from a public health perspective that you start your investigations where the human cases first emerged,” he said, adding that any evidence gathered in China might then lead the inquiry to elsewhere in the world.
    Besides trying to redirect the narrative on the origins of the coronavirus, Wang highlighted China’s contribution to the global effort to combat the pandemic. “Made in China has become a continuous supply line in the global fight against the pandemic. We were the first to pledge to make vaccines a global public good.”


  • India at heart of global efforts to produce Covid vaccine | World news | The Guardian

    India at heart of global efforts to produce Covid vaccine. Country plays central role in development, manufacture – and possible distribution – of potential vaccine. A research scientist works in a laboratory at the Serum Institute of India. As the largest global supplier of drugs and producer of 60% of the world’s vaccines, India has long been known as the “pharmacy of the world”.Now, as the frenzied hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine gathers momentum, the country is playing an increasingly strategic and central role in the development, manufacturing – and, crucially, possible future distribution – of several possible Covid shots. With more than 7.5 million cases and about 115,000 deaths, India is also one of the worst affected countries by the virus, second only to the US.
    A deal has already been struck for the Serum Institute of India, based in the city of Pune, to produce 1bn doses of the the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, seen as the forerunner in the vaccine race. In anticipation of its success, it has already begun production of almost 2m samples of the vaccine and is carrying out phase 3 human clinical trials on thousands of patients spread across 15 Covid-19 hotspots in India. This week, the Serum Institute of India said it was confident the AstraZeneca vaccine would be ready by December and would be licensed for distribution in India by March.Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum institute of India, said he was “very optimistic” that more than one successful vaccine was imminent. “A lot of the data that I have seen off-the-record in a lot of these vaccines is very promising and more than three to four vaccines will be successful very soon in the next year,” said Poonawalla.The Serum Institute, which this week also began human trials on an intranasal Covid vaccine, is just one of the dozens of Indian companies in the running to produce the much-coveted vaccine, of which there are almost 200 different types being developed across the world.


  • Coronavirus : maintenir les frontières fermées n’est pas viable à moyen terme, prévient l’OMS

    « Cela va devenir presque impossible pour les pays de maintenir dans un futur proche leurs frontières fermées », a ainsi estimé le docteur Michael Ryan, directeur des situations d’urgence à l’OMS. « Les économies doivent rouvrir, les gens doivent travailler, le commerce doit reprendre », a-t-il admis, tout en reconnaissant que chaque Etat devait prendre en compte individuellement les risques d’ouvrir ses frontières. Il est très difficile d’avoir une politique qui convienne à tous. Si je suis une petite nation sans cas de Covid-19, un seul cas (importé) peut représenter un désastre. Dans un pays où l’incidence de la maladie est importante, fermer la frontière peut ne faire aucune différence.docteur Michael Ryan, directeur des situations d’urgence à l’OMS. A l’heure actuelle, de nombreux pays dans le monde ferment leurs frontières à des ressortissants venant de zones à risques ou imposent des quatorzaines et des tests, mais sans stratégie concertée. « Seules en tant que telles, [ces mesures] ne sont pas efficaces pour limiter les mouvements du virus, qui est partout », a ajouté le responsable de l’OMS. « Mais il est très difficile de définir une politique globale », a-t-il ajouté, soulignant que la nature du risque était déterminée par les situations locales et nationales.


  • China is rewriting the facts about coronavirus to suit its own narrative | Carrie Gracie | Opinion | The Guardian

    Some governments have demanded an international investigation in China to determine the origins and early spread of the virus. The Chinese government says it will join a global inquiry into the pandemic but only when the crisis is over. It says it should not be blamed as it is a victim too, and that its tough measures to combat the Wuhan outbreak prevented hundreds of thousands of infections and bought the world time. Dr Ali Khan spent much of his career in the US Centers for Disease Control and says the world now needs to think ahead. “We can’t afford to do this again. If … some countries having an outbreak [are] deciding to not share that information, there have to be consequences.” But what consequences? The WHO’s regulations on protecting against the international spread of disease are legally binding, but there are no sanctions for countries that fail to adhere to them. In recent weeks, western governments have begun adopting a tougher tone towards Beijing on a range of issues, but there is little sign of a concerted international push for new WHO inspection powers to tackle future disease outbreaks. Indeed, the US has just withdrawn funding for the WHO, alleging that the global health body served as Beijing’s puppet during the early stages of coronavirus. For now, we are left hoping that China’s leadership has learned its own lessons about the need to act faster to protect its own public and the world.