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COVID-19

Afghanistan Coronavirus updates: 34,194 cases, 971 deaths

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has jumped to 34,194 with 971 deaths in Afghanistan.

According to daily Coronavirus, updates released the Public Health Ministry, 286 new Coronavirus cases have been registered in the past 24 hours.

The cases were recorded in Kabul 83, Herat 81, Balkh 9, Nangarhar 1, Bamyan 30, Takhar 5, Baghlan 3, Badghis 30, Logar 2, Kunduz 5, Parwan 2, Diakundi 16, Wardak 3, Laghman 1, Panjsher 2, and Ghor 13.

Meanwhile, 12 COVID-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours. The death cases were reported as follows: Kabul (10), Herat (2), Maidan Wardak (1), and Takhar (1).

The Health Ministry said that 41 patients have been discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing the total recoveries to 20,882 in the country.

It comes that World Bank has approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

The World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

COVID-19

Russia registered world’s first COVID-19 vaccine: Putin

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2020)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his country has succeeded to develop a vaccine that “forms stable cell and antibody immunity” against the COVID-19.

Speaking at a government meeting, Putin said: “As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered.” 

The Russian Tass news agency reported that the vaccine was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya institute and its clinical trials were over.

The vaccine was approved by the country’s Health Ministry after less than two months of human testing.

“I know this very well, because one of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in testing,” Putin said. He noted that after the first vaccine shot, his daughter had a 38°C fever, and on the next day, a fever slightly higher than 37°C. And then, after the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine, she is feeling well and has a high [antibody] count,” Putin said quoted by the Tass.

The vaccine still has to complete final trials but Russia’s move could pave the way for mass vaccination.

Reuters reported that the vaccine’s approval by the health ministry comes before the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.

Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.

The Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO), a trade body representing the world’s top drugmakers in Russia this week urged the health ministry to postpone approval until that final trial had been successfully completed.

In a letter to the ministry, it said there were high risks associated with registering a drug before that happened.

“It is during this phase that the main evidence of a vaccine’s efficacy is collected, as well as information on adverse reactions that could appear in certain groups of patients: people with weakened immunity, people with concomitant diseases and so forth,” it said.

Some international experts have also questioned the speed at which Russia approved its vaccine.

“Normally you need a large number of people to be tested before you approve a vaccine,” said Peter Kremsner from the University Hospital in Tuebingen, currently testing CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials.

“In that respect, I think it’s reckless to do that (approve it) if lots of people haven’t already been tested.”

Duncan Matthews, a professor of intellectual property law at the Queen Mary University of London, said news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine was to be welcomed, “but safety must be the priority”.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have fast-track approval procedures for emergency humanitarian use and we need to see evidence that Russia is adopting an equally prudent approach,” Matthews said in an emailed comment.

More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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COVID-19

17 Loya Jirga delegates test positive for COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health on Saturday confirmed 17 Loya Jirga delegates had tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to officials, the delegates infected with the virus had not been allowed to enter the hall. 

Noorullah Taraki, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said the members of the Loya Jirga who tested positive have been taken to a COVID-19 treatment facility in Kabul. 

Critics meanwhile raised their voices on Friday over the apparent lack of adherence to health protocols by the delegates on Friday in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

It was clear that very few delegates wore face masks and no social distancing practices were followed as 3,200 delegates sat shoulder to shoulder in the hall. 

This comes after a Public Health Ministry report released last week indicated up to 10 million Afghans had been infected with coronavirus – which has had an enormous impact on the country’s already fragile health system and economy. 

The Jirga will decide on the fate of 400 Taliban prisoners and the way forward regarding intra-Afghan talks. 

Comprising tribal elders, community leaders and politicians, 3,200 people from around the country are attending the event. 

Chairing the Jirga is Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. 

He said Saturday on Twitter that Friday’s deliberations had continued late into the night but that a resolution would be announced on Saturday. 

We began the second working day of the Consultative Peace Jirga. Yesterday 33 out of 50 working committees of the #CPJ submitted their suggestions, which continued till late evening. Today, the remaining 17 committees will submit their suggestions.

The outcome of the committees suggestions on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners & other peace related issues will be announced today. The people of Afghanistan, & the international community looking forward for a positive, & constructive outcome to start the intra-Afghan talks.”

 

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COVID-19

Turkmenistan president sends COVID-19 tests to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the President of neighboring Turkmenistan has ordered the country’s ministry of health to send COVID-19 test kits as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. 

Turkmen TV reported the president also ordered the Foreign Ministry to deliver the tests to Afghanistan. 

This comes after repeated reports that point towards the limited testing facilities and the fragile health system in the country. 

Just this week, the World Bank fast-tracked additional grants to Afghanistan to help desperate families and ensure food security. 

On Wednesday however, the Ministry of Public Health released details of an official survey conducted with the help of the World Health Organization that found the coronavirus has likely infected a third of the country’s population –  roughly 10 million people.

The Afghan health ministry released the estimates Wednesday, saying they are based on antibody tests on about 9,500 people in 34 provinces. 

Acting Health Minister, Ahmad Jawad Osmani told a news conference in Kabul the survey showed 31.5 percent of Afghanistan’s population has been infected by COVID-19.

Osmani noted that 53 percent of Kabul’s nearly five million residents had contracted the coronavirus.

Officially, the number of cases reported on Thursday stood at just 36,937. 

Last month, the International Federation of Red Cross warned: “Afghanistan is on the edge of potential health, social and economic catastrophes caused by COVID-19 as the disease places a crippling burden on one of the 10 most fragile states in the world.” 

“The real toll of the pandemic on the Afghan population is expected to be much higher and remains under-reported due to limited testing and weak health systems,” it added.

 

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