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Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization

(CNN) The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas over the past week.

The withdrawal, which goes into effect next July, has drawn criticism from bipartisan lawmakers, medical associations, advocacy organizations and allies abroad. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed Tuesday to reverse the decision “on (his) first day” if elected.

Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted the news Tuesday.

“Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the ⁦‪@WHO⁩in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” he wrote.

A State Department official also confirmed that “the United States’ notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO.” The spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres said he had received the notice and “is in the process of verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.” Those conditions “include giving a one-year notice and fully meeting the payment of assessed financial obligations.”

Republicans urge Trump not to terminate relationship with World Health Organization
Republicans urge Trump not to terminate relationship with World Health Organization
The letter addressed to the UN is very short, around three sentences, a source briefed on the correspondence told CNN, and it triggers a one-year withdrawal timeline. However, this source also cautioned that they cannot confirm they saw the final version of the letter.

Among its current functions, the WHO is attempting to coordinate efforts to get personal safety and medical equipment, like ventilators, to hospitals around the world. Elizabeth Cousens, the president and CEO of the UN Foundation, said the organization is “indispensable” in the fight against Covid-19.

Loyce Pace, president and executive director of Global Health Council, echoed that point, telling CNN: “Thousands of people have spoken, from health experts to heads of state and heroes on the frontlines: the world needs WHO. This move signals a dangerous gamble in the midst of a pandemic we have yet to conquer, and without a viable alternative to WHO.”

Some have warned that withdrawal in the current environment could also interfere with clinical trials essential for developing vaccines, as well as efforts to trace the spread of the virus globally.

President Donald Trump said he was halting funding to the organization in mid-April and announced his intention to withdraw from the WHO in May after he said it “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.” Trump had denounced the US’ contribution to the WHO — $400-500 million — in comparison to China’s and consistently accused the organization of aiding China in allegedly covering up the origins of the virus and allowing its spread.

While lawmakers from both parties have long cited systemic problems with the WHO, many have also denounced the President’s decision to withdraw during a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “is an act of true senselessness.” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he disagreed with Trump’s decision.

“If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen,” he said.

Last month, despite alleging that the World Health Organization “enabled” the Chinese government’s sweeping cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic’s origins, members of the GOP China task force urged Trump to reconsider his decision to terminate relations with the international body, arguing that the US can do more to affect change as a member.

Cousens, the head of the UN Foundation, called the decision “short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous” and said that the US’ “ability to lead and shape an agenda for reform is drastically diminished when they step out of the field of play.”

“There’s no question but that working within an institution like the World Health Organization allows the United States and others to leverage their resources to have much greater impact,” she told CNN.

She pointed to the WHO’s work in “distributing millions of pieces of personal protective equipment to medical facilities around the world, millions of diagnostic tests, tracking the virus’ spread across borders, coordinating global efforts to develop a vaccine, … coordinating research among over 100 countries … along with all of the work that they do in low resource and more humanitarian settings.”

Move comes as virus is surging
The heads of the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and American College of Physicians condemned the move to withdraw from the WHO, saying in a statement that it “puts the health of our country at grave risk.”

“This dangerous withdrawal not only impacts the global response against COVID-19, but also undermines efforts to address other major public health threats,” they said in a joint statement. “We call on Congress to reject the Administration’s withdrawal from the WHO and make every effort to preserve the United States’ relationship with this valued global institution. Now is the time to invest in global health, rather than turn back.”

The number of coronavirus cases continues to surge across the US and in various countries around the world.

There are at least 2,953,423 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 130,546 people have died from the virus in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

In the span of a week and a half, the number of US coronavirus cases reported each day has doubled, and officials are saying this is still the first wave of the pandemic.

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for Covid-19 after months of dismissing the seriousness of the virus
Trump has repeatedly insisted that the rise of cases in the US is purely the result of increased testing, but a WHO official knocked down that claim on Monday.

WHO scientists and experts are scheduled to travel to China this weekend to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Tuesday.

Specifically, experts will be seeking to trace the narrative of how the coronavirus might have spread from the wild to possibly farm animals to humans, said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.

Biden vows to reverse decision
The Trump administration has already diverted funding from the WHO and the process to formally withdraw will take a year to complete. Critics of the decision hope that the withdrawal decision will be reversed if Trump loses the presidential election in November. In a tweet Tuesday, Biden vowed to do so if elected.

“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage,” he wrote.

US allies have rallied to the support of the WHO, with a top diplomat from Germany calling for global solidarity and Italy’s Health Minister criticizing Trump’s decision as “serious and wrong”.

Trump’s decision to permanently terminate the US relationship with the WHO follows a years-long pattern of railing against global organizations, with the President claiming that the US is being taken advantage of. The President has questioned US funding to the United Nations and NATO, withdrawn from the Paris climate accord and repeatedly criticized the World Trade Organization.
By Zachary Cohen, Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Vivian Salama and Sara Murray,
CNN’s Manu Raju, Richard Roth, Valentina DiDonato, Lauren Mascarenhas and Sarah Mucha contributed to this report.


Scientists scoff at Indian agency’s plan to have COVID-19 vaccine ready for use next month

By Sanjay KumarJul

NEW DELHI—The apparent speed at which an Indian government agency aims to test and approve a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine has created an uproar among scientists both in India, which is increasingly overwhelmed by the new coronavirus, and abroad. A letter leaked on Twitter on Friday suggests the first vaccines could be rolled out by 15 August, which would leave far too little time for proper testing, critics say. The Indian Academy of Sciences calls the timeline “unreasonable and without precedent.”

Six Indian companies are developing vaccines against COVID-19. Last week, the Indian government gave two of them, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila, permission to start phase I and II human clinical trials of their most advanced vaccines, named covaxin and ZyCov-D respectively.

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For covaxin, Bharat Biotech has joined with the National Institute of Virology, which is part of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). (The company is separately developing COVID-19 vaccine candidates in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.)

ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava revealed the extremely tight deadline in a letter to hospitals designated to be involved in the Covaxin studies. “It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15 August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials,” Bhargava wrote. He asked the hospitals to fast-track all approvals for the vaccine and be ready to enroll participants “no later than 7 July 2020,” adding that “noncompliance will be viewed very seriously.”

But it’s absurd to think studies could show a vaccine to be safe and effective in less than 2 months, many scientists say. “In my knowledge, such an accelerated development pathway has never ever been done for any kind of vaccine,” says Anant Bhan, an independent ethics and policy researcher and past president of the International Association of Bioethics. “This seems really, really rushed.” The timeline “carries potential risks and provides inadequate attention to required safety procedures,” Bhan adds.

“Clinical trials cannot be rushed,” concurs Indian virologist and veteran vaccine researcher Thekkekara Jacob John, formerly of the Christian Medical College in Vellore. Even when expedited, phase I and phase II trials will take a minimum of 5 months, he says. The duration of a phase III trial would depend on several factors, including the number of subjects enrolled and decisions by a data safety monitoring board, but would probably add at least another 6 months, Jacob John says. “ICMR’s intentions may be good but the processes have been vitiated and the risk is it can derail the vaccine,” he says.

Critics believe the target date is political: 15 August is India’s Independence Day, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi traditionally climbs the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi to give a long speech touting his government’s achievements and make major announcements.


Corona medicine remdesivir will be available by this month

Mylan will launch a generic version of Gilead Sciences’ Covid-19 antiviral remdesivir in India at 4,800 rupees, about 80% below the price tag on the drug for wealthy nations.
Mylan’s price was for 100-mg vials, but it was not immediately clear how many of those vials would be required for a full treatment course.
Last month, two Indian drugmakers, Cipla and privately held Hetero Labs, also launched generic versions of the treatment.

An employee of Egyptian pharmaceutical company Eva Pharma holds a pack containing vials of Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral medication approved as a specific treatment for COVID-19, at the company’s factory, which started producing the drug this week with a production capacity of up to 1.5 million doses per month.

Mylan said on Monday it would launch a generic version of Gilead Sciences’ Covid-19 antiviral remdesivir in India at 4,800 rupees ($64.31), about 80% below the price tag on the drug for wealthy nations.

California-based Gilead has signed licensing deals with several generic drugmakers in an effort to make remdesivir available in 127 developing countries.

Last month, two Indian drugmakers, Cipla and privately-held Hetero Labs, also launched generic versions of the treatment. Cipla will price its version, Cipremi, at less than 5,000 rupees, while Hetero has priced Covifor at 5,400 rupees.

Gilead, last week, priced remdesivir at $2,340 per patient for rich nations and agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the United States over the next three months.

Mylan’s price was for 100-mg vials, but it was not immediately clear how many of those vials would be required for a full treatment course. Gilead has said for a five-day treatment course, a patient would need six vials of remdesivir.

Remdesivir is in high demand after the intravenously-administered medicine helped to shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial but there have been concerns over its supply.

Mylan said it would manufacture remdesivir in India at its injectables facilities and was working toward expanding access for patients in the 127 low- and middle-income countries where it is licensed by Gilead Sciences to do so.

The Drug Controller General of India approved Mylan’s remdesivir version, to be called Desrem, for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed severe incidences of Covid-19 in adults and children, the company said in a statement.

India is the world’s third worst hit nation, with the number of coronavirus cases surging to 697,413 on Monday


ICMR’s revised guidelines for Covid-19 patients

New Delhi: With a large number of people showing no symptoms testing positive for COVID-19, the Union Health ministry has revised home isolation guidelines to include asymptomatic positive patients in the list of mild or pre-symptomatic coronavirus infection cases.

However, immuno compromised patients (included HIV, transplant recipients, cancer therapy) are not eligible for home isolation, state the revised guidelines released on Thursday.

Elderly patients aged above 60 years and those with co-morbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/kidney disease and cerebro-vascular disease among others shall only be allowed home isolation after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer.

Patients under home isolation will stand discharged after 10 days of onset of symptoms and no fever for three days, the guidelines stated.

“Thereafter, the patient will be advised to isolate at home and self-monitor their health for further seven days. There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over,” the ‘Revised Guidelines for Home Isolation of Very mild/pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic COVID-19 cases’ stated.

According to the document, asymptomatic patients like the ones who are pre-symptomatic and have very mild symptoms can opt for home isolation if they have the requisite self-isolation facility at their residence so as to avoid contact with other family members.

The guidelines come against India’s rising COVID-19 tally to 6,04,641 on Thursday, with a single-day increase of 19,148 cases, just five days after it crossed the 5 lakh-mark. The death toll due to the disease rose to 17,834 with 434 new fatalities, according to health ministry data updated at 8 am.

According to the guidelines, a caregiver should be available to provide care on 24×7 basis and a communication link between the caregiver and a hospital is a prerequisite for the entire duration of home isolation.

Besides, the guidelines reiterated that the caregiver and all close contacts of such cases should take hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication as per the protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer.

Besides, it called for downloading the Arogya Setu mobile application and that it should remain active at all times (through bluetooth and wi-fi).

Patients should monitor their health and regularly inform the health status to the district surveillance officer, who will facilitate further follow up by the surveillance teams.

The patient also has to give an undertaking stating that being diagnosed as a confirmed/suspect case of COVID-19, he/she hereby voluntarily undertakes to maintain strict self-isolation at all times for the prescribed period, the guidelines said.

Immediate medical attention must be sought if serious signs or symptoms, including difficulty in breathing, dip in oxygen saturation, persistent pain/pressure in the chest, mental confusion or inability to arouse, slurred speech/seizures, weakness or numbness in any limb or face and developing bluish discolorations of lips/face, it stated.

As per the guidelines, the states and districts should monitor all such cases, and that the health status of those under home isolation should be monitored by the field staff/surveillance teams through personal visits along with a dedicated call centre to follow up on the patients on a daily basis.

The clinical status (body temperature, pulse rate and oxygen saturation) of each case should be recorded by the field staff/call centre.

The field staff will guide the patient on measuring these parameters and provide the instructions (for patients and their care givers), they said.

Besides, details about patients under home isolation should also be updated on COVID-19 portal and facility app (with DSO as user).

Mechanism to shift a patient in case of violation or need for treatment has to be established and implemented.

All family members and close contacts shall be monitored and tested as per protocol by the field staff. These discharge guidelines shall be strictly adhered to along with an issuance of a fitness certificate by the field team, as per the guidelines


We will live with Covid19 for months. Let’s not deny it or panic: Dr. Faheem Younus

Dr.Faheem Younus from the University of Maryland in America, head of the Infectious Disease Clinic. tweets facts about Covid-19, He Tweets We will live with Covid19 for months. Let’s not deny it or panic. Let’s not make life unnecessarily difficult. Let us learn to be happy and live with that fact.

The virus will not reduce its effect in the summer. It’s summer in Brazil and Argentina, but the virus is spreading rapidly. You cannot destroy Covid19 viruses that have penetrated the cells by drinking too much water, you will just go to the toilet often.

Washing hands and keeping a distance of 1,8 meters is the best method of protecting against the virus. If you don’t have a Covid19 patient at home, there is no need to disinfect the surfaces in the house.

Cargo packages, petrol pumps, shopping carts or ATMs do not cause infection. Wash your hands, live your life as usual. Covid19 is not a food infection. This is associated with drops of infection like flu. There is no documented risk of Covid19 being transmitted by ordering food.

Entering the sauna does not kill Covid19 viruses that have penetrated the cell. You can lose your smell with many allergies and viral infections. This is a non-specific symptom for Covid19.

Once we get home, we don’t need to change clothes and shower urgently. Purity is a virtue, not paranoia. Covid19 virus does not hang in the air. This is a drip infection that requires close contact. The air is clean, you can walk around the gardens (keeping the distance) in the parks.

Covid19 does not separate race or religion, it is passed on to all people. It is enough to use normal soap against Covid19 by not necessarily using antibacterial soap. The virus is not a bacteria anyway.

You don’t have to worry about your food orders. But if you want you can heat it up a bit in the microwave. The chance to bring Covid19 home with your shoes and getting sick is the same as getting hit by lightning twice a day. I’ve been working against viruses for 20 years, drip infections don’t spread like this.

You cannot be protected from the virus by drinking / eating vinegar, sumac, soda and ginger. Wearing gloves is a bad idea, the virus can accumulate on the glove, it can easily be transmitted if you touch your face. It’s best to wash your hands. (Dr. Faheem Younus is the Head of the Infectious Disease Clinic ,The University of Maryland in America)
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Correspondent Houston, Texas, USA


Patanjali’s Coronol is available in stores across India

New Delhi: Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev, the popular face of the Ayurvedic Pharma Giant, Patanjali announced that three medicines in the Ayurvedic Corona Kit- the immunity-boosting medicine is now available across the country from now on.

Patanjalis Coronil kit available in stores across India from today: Baba Ramdev
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Ramdev Baba said that the medicine combo – coronil and swasari will be available in the market from today across the nation.

Patanjali can sell Coronil but not as cure’ to COVID-19: Ayush ministry

“Coronil and Swasari will be available in India from today. Ayush Ministry has used the term ‘COVID management’ for our medicine and not ‘COVID cure’. We are making it available across the country from Rajasthan to Maharashtra,” Swami Ramdev said.
Explaining how the medicines work, he said that the biggest danger is that the novel coronavirus enters the lungs, and starts to multiply. The medicines are able to control this multiplication.

Emphasising on the licencing of Coronil and Sawsari, Baba Ramdev said that the medicines were produced under proper Ayurvedic licensing from the state government in question.

Talking of the availability of Coronil in the market, Swami Ramdev confirmed that the medicine will now be available in the market.


PM Modi’s longer beareda, a message of social distancing

late March when PM Narendra Modi appeared on television screens to announce a one-day voluntary curfew, he was his usual perfectly trimmed self. This week when once again he appeared on television screens to talk about the novel coronavirus, there was a difference — a visibly longer, but neatly groomed, beard.

In between these two national addresses have been about 70 days of a nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Was there a hint in his visibly longer beard? Of practising what one preaches? That the Prime Minister has not met his barber? Not even in the last one month, when the country began ‘unlocking’ and salons and barbershops started re-opening in several states.

Here’s a look at PM Modi’s various virtual appearances during the lockdown period:

Coming back to the point. It’s not as though PM Narendra Modi has stayed cooped up at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. As the Prime Minister, he does need to step out, hold meetings. But meeting a barber? That’s probably unnecessary.

And that is the message. Hold off on that visit to the salon. Work from home if you’re able to. Don’t go out to pick up groceries at a time you know the supermarket will be filled with people. Don’t throw a party; meet your friends over a video call instead. And, when you do step out, wear a mask.

It’s tough, of course. But it is needed. India is registering daily records of new novel coronavirus cases almost every day. The peak, arguably, is far, far away. The virus is unpredictable, crafty and, above all, extremely dangerous.

Protect yourself. Stay home, stay safe.

(Photo research by Nishwan Rasool; pictures sources from PIB)


Government fails to arrange oxygen supply for covid patients

Hyderabad: A video by a dying 34-year-old man giving his last message to his father from a government hospital in Hyderabad has left people shocked amid the coronavirus pandemic. The man was finally admitted to Hyderabad Government Chest Hospital on Wednesday after at least 10 private hospitals refused admission, the man’s father said.
“Am not able to breathe… Though I pleaded, they did not continue oxygen for the last three hours. I am not able to breathe anymore daddy, it’s like my heart has stopped… Bye daddy. Bye to all, daddy,” the man is seen saying in the video that has been shared widely on social media.

People tweeted to point out the troubles and indifference that patients have to face.

The video message was recorded an hour before the hospital said the man had died, according to reports.

“My son asked for help, but no one helped him. I saw the video only after I returned home after the last rites, and he said ‘bye daddy’,” the father told NDTV, and broke down. “What happened to my son should not happen to anyone else. Why was my son denied oxygen? Did anyone else need it urgently and so they took it away from him? When I hear that video of my son, my heart breaks.”

The family performed his last rites the same day. The next morning, the father received a call from a private hospital where he had submitted his son’s swab samples. The private hospital’s report mentioned he had died of COVID-19, the man’s father said.

Amid the grief and tragedy, the family received one more shock – six members including the man’s parents, wife, brother, sister-in-law and brother-in-law had been exposed to him. They are now worried.

“We got the test results so late and the hospital just handed over the body. We have all been exposed. But no one is conducting any tests on us. I have two young grandchildren, my son’s 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, who still don’t even know their father is dead. What should I do?” the man’s father said.


Ramdev’s Patanjali claims to have Covid-19 medicine, 100% recovery in 7 days

Not an immunity booster but a cure, claimed yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Tuesday as he unveiled, what he calls, the first ayurvedic medicine against the coronavirus, even as the scientific community the world over is fighting hard to come up with a cure for the highly contagious disease.
The yoga guru’s company Patanjali launched ‘Coronil and Swasari’ and claimed the clinical trials on affected patients have shown 100 per cent favourable results.

“The whole country and the world was waiting for medicine or vaccine for coronavirus. We are proud to announce that the first Ayurvedic, clinically controlled trial based evidence and research-based medicine has been prepared by the combined efforts of Patanjali Research Centre and NIMS,” Yoga Guru Ramdev said at a press conference in Hairdwar, adding that it has shown “100 per cent recovery rate within 3-7 days.”

“We are launching Covid medicines Coronil and Swasari today. We conducted two trials of these, first clinical controlled study, which took place in Delhi, Ahmedabad, among many other cities. Under this 280 patients were included and 100 per cent of those recovered. We were able to control coronavirus and its complications in this. After this the all-important clinical control trial was conducted,” he added.

The Corona kit will be made available at just Rs 545, said Acharya Balkrishna, chief executive officer of Patanjali, adding that the kit is for 30 days.

“This medicine kit is not available anywhere for now and will be made available at Patanjali stores in a week, said Baba Ramdev. He added that an app will be launched for the delivery of the corona kit.

Ramdev underlined that necessary approvals for conducting the trials of medicine on patients had been taken from competent authorities.

Acharya Balkrishna was present at the occasion of the launch with other officials and representatives who had taken part in the preparation of the medicine. (HT)