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Disrupted vaccinations pose deadly threat to 80m kids: UN

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The coronavirus pandemic is putting tens of millions of children’s lives at risk by disrupting routine immunization programs, the World Health Organization and UNICEF said Friday.

The United Nations agencies joined forces with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to warn that the pandemic has severely disrupted vaccination programs in dozens of countries, paving the way for a deadly resurgence of preventable diseases.

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“COVID-19 threatens to undermine life-saving immunization services around the world,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual joint press conference.

“This risks putting tens of millions of children — in rich and poor countries — at risk of killer diseases like diphtheria, measles and pneumonia.”

He said that while the world was seeking a safe and effective vaccine for the new coronavirus, vaccines that were already available to prevent other diseases still needed to be delivered.

“Initial analysis suggests the provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of one living in these countries,” Tedros said.

“Any suspension of childhood vaccination services is a major threat to life.”

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Meanwhile experts said it was vital to maintain the structure of routine vaccination programs in poorer countries, because those networks would be the same ones used to distribute an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

– Innovative solutions –

UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, said measles vaccination campaigns had been suspended in 27 countries and polio campaigns in 38 states.

UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said countries have had to suspend campaigns due to the need to maintain physical distancing, while some health centers have been overwhelmed by coronavirus response efforts.

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Meanwhile health workers have been redeployed to treat COVID-19 patients, and some parents have been unable to get their children to vaccination sites due to movement restrictions.

She said countries needed to step up efforts to track unvaccinated children, and find innovative solutions, as Laos has done by immunizing children in supermarkets.

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Gavi chief Seth Berkley said countries had to do everything they could to keep vaccinating.

“If we neglect the supply chains and immunization infrastructure that keep these programs running, we also risk harming our ability to roll our the COVID-19 vaccines that represent our best chance of defeating this pandemic, when they are ready,” he said.

He appealed for countries to dig deep at a June 4 global vaccine donors’ summit, hosted in London.

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The novel coronavirus has killed at least 332,000 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

At least 5.1 million cases have been registered in 196 countries and territories.

“As the world passes five million recorded cases of COVID-19, we recognize the importance of building national unity and global solidarity to learn from each other and suppress the virus everywhere,” Tedros said.


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A historian details Trump’s surprising and peculiar relationship with America’s Puritan legacy

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Whatever one feels about it, the ‘Trump phenomenon’ is often described as the US version of a populist trend that has impacted on many areas of contemporary global politics.  However, despite the global political similarities, Donald Trump’s success is also rooted in a peculiarly American experience, since a very large and influential part of his support base lies among Christians of the so-called ‘evangelical right’.

The presidential inauguration, in 2017, featured six religious leaders, more than any other inauguration in history.  Since then many evangelical leaders have (controversially) claimed that God has placed Trump in the White House, despite his character flaws, because he is the man who will get God’s work done at this – in their  view – critical point in US and world history. As a result, the influence of evangelical Christians on American politics has never been more pronounced. From the appointment of Supreme Court judges to US relations with Israel, from support for ‘The Wall’ to abortion legislation, the power of this extraordinary lobby is seen in the changing politics and policies of the nation. A veritable culture war appears to be occurring over the future direction of the USA; a battle for the ‘soul of America’.

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Trump supporters desperately grasp at a new ‘gotcha’ to discredit a national social justice uprising

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Unable to defend the extrajudicial killing of black people by the police or the viciousness of police assaults on peaceful protesters, conservatives are grasping desperately at a new gotcha to discredit the recent national uprisings: Liberals are a bunch of hypocrites. This time, however, it's got a coronavirus twist, as progressives are being accused of hypocrisy for supporting the protests while allegedly opposing all other social gatherings in the name of "public health."

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One out of three Americans used bleach ‘in non recommended high-risk practices’ to battle coronavirus: CDC report

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One third of Americans used bleach or other household disinfectants "in non-recommended high risk practices" in attempts to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a new CDC survey finds.

Among the non-recommended practices were using “bleach on food products, applying household cleaning and disinfectant products to skin, and inhaling or ingesting cleaners and disinfectants,” the CDC says, as The Daily Beast reports.

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