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COVID-19

Time to plan transport of COVID-19 vaccines is now: IATA 

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(Last Updated On: September 10, 2020)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments around the world to start planning for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines once approved and available. 

IATA said in a statement that air cargo plays a key role in the distribution of vaccines under normal circumstances and that this will be critical to efficient transport and distribution of a vaccine when the time comes. 

However, governments will need to plan accordingly well in advance and with industry stakeholders. 

“Safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won’t happen without careful advance planning. And the time for that is now,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. 

“We urge governments to take the lead in facilitating cooperation across the logistics chain so that the facilities, security arrangements and border processes are ready for the mammoth and complex task ahead,” he said. 

“Delivering billions of doses of vaccine to the entire world efficiently will involve hugely complex logistical and programmatic obstacles all the way along the supply chain. We look forward to working together with government, vaccine manufacturers and logistical partners to ensure an efficient global roll-out of a safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

IATA stated that vaccines must be handled and transported in line with international regulatory requirements, at controlled temperatures and without delay to ensure the quality of the product.

The association stated that while there are still many unknowns (number of doses, temperature sensitivities, manufacturing locations, etc.), it is clear that the scale of activity will be vast, that cold chain facilities will be required and that delivery to every corner of the planet will be needed. 

Security is also of paramount importance, stated IATA. Vaccines will be highly valuable commodities. Arrangements must be in place to ensure that shipments remain secure from tampering and theft.

“Processes are in place to keep cargo shipments secure, but the potential volume of vaccine shipments will need early planning to ensure that they are scalable,” IATA stated. 

IATA also warned governments to take into consideration the diminished cargo capacity in the air transport sector after passenger traffic has downsized and networks have moth-balled many aircraft.

The potential size of the delivery is enormous. Just providing a single dose to 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 747 cargo aircraft, IATA stated.

“Even if we assume that half the needed vaccines can be transported by land, the air cargo industry will still face its largest single transport challenge ever. In planning their vaccine programs, particularly in the developing world, governments must take very careful consideration of the limited air cargo capacity that is available at the moment. If borders remain closed, travel curtailed, fleets grounded and employees furloughed, the capacity to deliver life-saving vaccines will be very much compromised,” said de Juniac.  

COVID-19

New COVID variant detected in South Africa

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

Britain on Thursday said it was concerned by a newly identified coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa that might make vaccines less effective and imperil efforts to fight the pandemic. Flora Bradley-Watson reports.

The UK on Thursday banned flights from six southern African countries due to a new coronavirus variant spreading there, Reuters reported.

According to the report the new variant, called B.1.1.529, has alarmed global health officials as it appears to be more transmissible and may evade vaccines.

That’s because its spike protein is dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that the COVID-19 vaccines are based on.

Britain’s health secretary said it was important to act fast:

“We will be suspending all flights from six southern African countries and we will adding those countries to the travel red list. Those countries are South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Zimbabwe and Botswana. And we will be requiring anyone that arrives from those countries from 4am on Sunday to quarantine in hotels.”

“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this variant. I’m concerned, of course, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve taken this action today.”

Earlier on Thursday, South African scientists said they had detected the new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and were working to understand its potential implications.

The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, but the UK Health Security Agency said no cases of it had been detected in Britain, read the report.

The World Health Organization is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the new variant.

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COVID-19

Rotterdam mayor slams violent COVID-19 protests, scores arrested

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(Last Updated On: November 20, 2021)

The mayor of Rotterdam on Saturday condemned “an orgy of violence” at protests against COVID-19 measures in the Dutch port city, in which seven people were wounded and more than 20 arrested.

Crowds of several hundred rioters torched cars, set off fireworks and threw rocks at police during the protests on Friday evening. Police responded with warning shots and water canons, Reuters reporter.

“Police were forced to draw their weapons and even fire direct shots,” Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told a press conference early on Saturday.

Asked to characterize the event, Aboutaleb said it was “an orgy of violence, I can’t think of another way to describe it.”

Authorities said they had arrested more than 20 people and expected to detain others, as the city centre where the riots took place is extensively monitored by security cameras.

Protestors had gathered to voice opposition to government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a “corona pass”, showing they have been vaccinated or have already recovered from an infection.

The pass is also available to people who have not been vaccinated, but have proof of a negative test, Reuters reported.

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COVID-19

US COVID-19 cases surpass 46.9 million, death toll exceeds 761,000

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(Last Updated On: November 14, 2021)

The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States exceeded 46.94 million on Friday, with the death toll exceeding 761,000, according to the data released by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Specifically, the country’s case count rose to 46,943,681 as of Friday, and its death toll reached 761,402, according to the CSSE tally.

Though a U.S. state with the highest vaccination rate, Vermont is experiencing its worst COVID-19 surge, Reuters reported.

In Vermont, nearly 72 percent of residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But at the same time, it has the 12th highest growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in the country over the past week till Tuesday.

Experts suggested that a new round of resurgence could hit the United States as the winter comes and many people tend to ease their restriction measures after getting vaccinated.

As the U.S. faces a shortage of products due to supply chain problems caused by the COVID-19, hospitals in many states including Utah and Texas are calling for public donation of used crutches, walkers and canes.

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