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Jeremy Konyndyk, talks big picture on the coronavirus health crisis and the varying responses to it from American leaders and health officials.
From the interview:
"Confusion, in this sort of scenario, is the enemy of preparedness..."
From the oped by Carleigh Krubiner:
As several thousand people become newly infected each day with the novel coronavirus Covid-19, and some die of it, there are accelerated efforts to develop new coronavirus vaccines. The World Health Organization has activated its R&D Blueprint, new investments are in the pipeline, and multiple vaccine candidates are expected to advance to clinical trials.
But as the world rushes to develop new vaccines against Covid-19, there is a real risk that pregnant women and their babies will not be among those who are able to benefit from them.
Ensuring there’s a vaccine that can be offered to pregnant women is critical to health equity. While there are only limited data on how severe Covid-19 infection is in pregnancy, data from other coronaviruses suggest that pregnant women may face more severe disease, adverse obstetrical outcomes, and greater mortality from them. Development of coronavirus vaccines that pregnant women aren’t able to use would be not only a tragedy but a grave injustice.
From the article:
"...A year after the Trump administration announced that a major pillar of its new strategy for Africa was to counter the growing influence of China and Russia by expanding economic ties to the continent, it slammed the door shut on Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy.
The travel restrictions also apply to three other African countries — Sudan, Tanzania, and Eritrea — as well as to Myanmar, which is accused of genocide against its Muslim population, and Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state.
The ban will prevent thousands of people from being able to move to the United States.
The initial ban, which was put into effect in 2017, restricted travel from some Muslim-majority countries as part of Mr. Trump’s plan to keep out 'radical Islamic terrorists.' It has already affected more than 135 million people — many of them Christians — from seven countries.
With the new expansion, the ban will affect nearly a quarter of the 1.2 billion people on the African continent, according to W. Gyude Moore, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development, a research group, potentially taking a heavy toll on African economies — and on America’s image in the region.
'Chinese, Turkish, Russian, and British firms, backed by their governments, are staking positions on a continent that will define the global economy’s future,' he said, adding, 'One hopes that the United States would follow suit and fully engage with the continent — but that hope fades...'"
From the article (by Jeremy Konyndyk):
"At the beginning of January, almost no one outside China had heard of the pneumonia-like illness the world now knows as Wuhan coronavirus or, more technically, 2019-nCoV.
The close of the month saw more than 11,000 cases confirmed, with counts rising daily. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency of international concern. Hospitals in the epicenter, the Chinese city of Wuhan, are overwhelmed and turning away patients. No other country has yet experienced Wuhan-like conditions, but findings released last week by researchers in China concluded that 2019-nCoV may be more contagious, and have higher pandemic potential, than the 2003 SARS outbreak. Many public health experts are now arguing that given the scale of transmission, focus should shift from containment to mitigation — minimizing spread rather than expecting we can fully stop it.
Faced with this kind of uncertain risk, policymakers must walk a narrow path between aggressive preparedness and counterproductive alarmism. In emergency management, there is a response principle known as “no regrets”: the idea that in an unpredictable crisis, we should proactively over-prepare, rather than wait and see. Importantly, this does not mean recklessly deploying extreme measures; it means judiciously gearing up worst-case preparedness well before a worst-case outcome is certain. This must be the posture as the world confronts 2019-nCoV..."
From the article:
"...The US has defended its decision with claims that the affected countries fell short of its security standards, including passport technology, and failed to share information on criminals and terrorist suspects. However, the restrictions will likely face intense criticism of suspected discriminatory undertones with two of the four affected African countries being Muslim-majority nations.
'The administration’s expanded travel ban now affects close to a quarter of the population of the African continent,' said Gyude Moore, a former Liberian government minister and current fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington DC. 'Less than a year after the US government unveiled its new US-Africa trade policy Prosper Africa, nationals of Nigeria, the continent’s largest country and economy, are being banned from visas that may lead to permanent residency in the US.'
Some analysts have described the expanding travel restrictions as an 'African ban' and an attempt by Trump to shore up his electoral base in the run-up to November’s presidential election where immmigration will likely again be a hot button topic.
'The rationale for limiting visas to the nationals of these four African countries can only be seen as a demand for a reduction in immigration from African countries collectively especially due to the White House’s previous assessment regarding ‘shithole countries’,' said Michael Clemens, a migration economist with CGD..."
From the article:
Mikaela Gavas, co-director of the Europe program at the Center for Global Development, was equally blunt. “I’m not very optimistic ... The U.K. is going to lose a substantial amount of its influence, not only among the European donors, but also in international discussions, such as the COP [climate negotiations] coming up in Glasgow,” she said.
“It was the team EU approach, whereby they all stood together in a common position, pushing for progressive development that made the big difference, that paved the way for a successful outcome on the 2030 Agenda,” she added.
From the article:
"...Locking down large areas, as China is currently doing with the entire province of Hubei, with a population of nearly 60m, is untested in modern times. Such efforts can backfire. One lesson from the Ebola outbreaks in west Africa is that if those under quarantine are not cared for and do not feel that the suffering they are enduring for the common good is respected, they will try to evade the quarantine, says Jeremy Konyndyk of the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington. That makes matters worse because in an outbreak it is crucial to know who is infected, where they have been and where they are going. A heavy-handed attempt to quarantine West Point, a settlement of 70,000 people in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 was abandoned after residents responded with riots. By contrast, a similar but well-organised quarantine in Sierra Leone, in which traditional leaders were brought on board first, did not meet resistance.
If China’s drastic measures help delay epidemics of the Wuhan virus in other countries by a few months, that could make a huge difference, says Dr Farrar. Hospitals in Europe and America will be better placed to handle a surge of infections in late spring, compared with February when they are overwhelmed by the peak in cases of the seasonal flu. Such a delay could also be crucial for testing a vaccine for the Wuhan virus. Several are already in the works in China, America and Australia. Dr Farrar reckons a vaccine could be ready for clinical trials in 6-12 months..."
From the article:
"...It was the maiden voyage of 'Global Britain,' as Prime Minister Boris Johnson played host to African leaders and representatives in London on Jan. 20. Soon to be free to set its own trade agenda, with Brexit taking effect on Jan. 31, the United Kingdom hopes to project the image of a nation untethered from the rules and regulations of the European Union. Africa—with its rapidly growing populations and economies, rising middle class, and recent ratification of a continentwide free trade agreement—was as good a place as any to start.
With a rate of return on investment that outstrips much of Asia, all of Latin America, and the average of the world’s developed economies, there is little doubting the money to be made in Africa, too. However, a splashy summit and tall talk will not do the trick. Reaching Britain’s goals will require a scale of investment and a humbling of its traditional role as a great power, of which the government gives no guarantee.
Although the prime minister tried not to wade into the waters of nostalgic imperialism at the summit, as he has so often done in the past, Johnson remained committed to the idea that the U.K. can overcome Africa’s 'suitors' to become the 'obvious partner of choice.' It was a tired recapitulation of an old trope—competition on the continent, a “scramble for Africa”—which reflects neither Africa’s politics nor Britain’s prospects in the 21st century.
For all the ambitions of the Global Britain agenda, however, the summit was a rather muted event. There was no show of force to rival the Russia-Africa Summit last year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin showed off his jets and tanks at his seaside resort in Sochi. Neither was there any of the grandeur of the most recent Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2018, when Xi Jinping feted 51 African leaders in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People as he promised world-historical transformation—'The ocean is vast because it rejects no rivers,' Xi prophesied of the opportunities China and Africa shared. Nor did it seem to show the same significance of the United States’ last summit in 2014, when 37 African heads of state gathered in Washington as then-President Barack Obama advanced a range of health, security, and investment initiatives while knocking Chinese intentions on the continent.
But it was still a productive day for the 13 African leaders who made the frosty trek to a blocky InterContinental Hotel on the Greenwich Peninsula, an industrial stretch of land in southeast London. Indeed, it was likely all the more productive for focusing on trade and investment, rather than the conflict and contestation that have consumed so many summits as of late. 'The world needs to be seeing Africa less as a problem and more as an opportunity,' said Gyude Moore, Liberia’s former public works minister and a fellow at the Center for Global Development..."