24 hours before entering the White House, Joe Biden was preparing Tuesday to launch his own agenda against Covid-19 in the United States, while many countries are accelerating vaccinations, and controversy is mounting around the holding of ‘Australian Tennis Open.
The disease has killed more than two million people worldwide and an independent expert report to be presented to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday accuses the latter and China of having delayed taking action. the situation.
The United States is the country most affected by Covid-19 in the world, with 24 million cases and nearly 400,000 deaths, including 21,000 in the last seven days. And the appearance of the new British variant raises fears of the worst.
– “We can do it!” –
On the eve of Donald Trump’s departure, cacophony reigns in Washington between the two presidential camps: the outgoing president announced the imminent reopening of American borders to European nationals in the Schengen area, to the British, Irish and to Brazilians in as of January 26, but he was immediately contradicted by the spokesperson for the newly elected president.
“Now is not the time to lift restrictions on international travel,” Jen Psaki, who is due to become spokesperson for new President Biden, officially on Wednesday, said on Twitter.
A huge vaccination campaign began in mid-December but it is progressing much more slowly than expected: only ten million people have received a first injection, well below the 20 million planned for the end of December 2020 by the outgoing administration.
Joe Biden has pledged to step up a gear to reach 100 million injections by day 100 of his presidency, “I have no doubts that we can do it,” he said. “The health of the Nation is at stake!”
Faced with President Trump, a supporter of lifting restrictions, on American territory or vis-à-vis his main partners, Joe Biden wants to play it safe and seeks more to give the Americans the economic resources necessary to hold out until the end of the pandemic, in particular with a massive support plan of 1.9 trillion dollars.
The 46th President of the United States has already announced that he will take a decree on Wednesday to make it compulsory to wear a mask in premises and areas dependent on the federal state, as well as when traveling between states, which Donald Trump had always refused to do so.
– The specter of “moral failure” –
WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the world would face “catastrophic moral failure” if rich countries monopolized vaccines at the expense of poor countries.
To date, according to an AFP count, at least 60 countries or territories, comprising 61% of the world population, have launched their vaccination campaign. But 11 countries concentrate 90% of the injected doses.
Brazil, one of the most affected nations – with more than 210,000 officially recorded deaths, a figure very undervalued according to specialists – launched its campaign on Monday, two days earlier than expected, under pressure from state governors.
The logistical challenge is sizeable in this country of 210 million inhabitants of continental dimensions, where two first vaccines – the Chinese CoronaVac and the British one from Oxford / AstraZeneca – are administered.
In Russia, where the vaccination of teachers and caregivers had started slowly in December, a massive campaign started on Monday, in the hope of curbing the epidemic without reimposing national containment.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin ordered the entire Russian population – 146 million people – to have access to Sputnik V.
Struck by a variant of the virus up to 70% more contagious according to health authorities, the United Kingdom has accelerated its campaign, now open to people over 70 years old.
In France, injections have been for the over-75s since Monday, while they had until then been reserved for priority audiences such as residents of retirement homes and caregivers.
India, which began its campaign on Saturday, intends to vaccinate 300 million people by July. His government stepped up efforts to build confidence on Monday, as nearly a third of those called for the vaccine did not show up.
In Norway, where more than 42,000 people have already been vaccinated, health authorities have estimated that to date there is no established link between the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and the death of 33 elderly people who received a first dose. , many of whom “were very old, frail and had serious illnesses”.
As for the new variant of the coronavirus identified in South Africa in October, now predominant in the country, it is not more deadly but 1.5 times more contagious, a panel of South African experts said on Monday. It is the African country most affected by the pandemic, with 37,000 deaths for 58 million inhabitants.
– Mega quarantine center –
As for China, where the virus appeared at the end of 2019, it confined Monday about three million additional inhabitants in the northeast of the country, after new cases.
300 km south of Beijing, in Shijiazhuang (11 million inhabitants), capital of Hebei province (north), hundreds of workers take turns 24 hours a day to assemble in a few days a huge giant quarantine center intended to fight a local outbreak of coronavirus.
The images recall the construction of a huge hospital in early 2020 in Wuhan, where the epidemic appeared.
Beijing and the WHO are severely implicated in the spread of the disease which has so far killed 2,031,048 people around the world, in a report by independent experts to be presented to the WHO on Tuesday.
For these experts, “public health measures could have been applied more vigorously by the Chinese authorities” in January and the WHO should have met well “before the third week of January” to discuss a “public health emergency international in scope “.
In Australia, the first two cases of Covid-19 were recorded on Tuesday among players in the tennis Open supposed to start on February 8 in Melbourne.
In total, seven contaminations were detected among the thousand people who arrived especially last week by charter flights on the island-continent, while criticism and concern mount on the holding of the competition.