AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine not advised for above 65 years! Is Germany valid to zero this out?

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine not advised for above 65 years! Is Germany valid to zero this out?

Germany has just issued an advisory against giving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 65 years of age. The reasons for this specific age bracket aren’t arbitrary but are backed by reason. 

The foremost reason of Germany issuing the recommendation is the lack of evidence. German disease control agency, Robert Koch Institute’s vaccination standing committee has underlined insufficient data available to govern efficacy of vaccine on people over 65 years of age. The researchers mentioned in the study published in The Lancet that due to lack of Covid-19 cases at time in older adults, vaccine efficacy can’t be established. 

The team had written, “Vaccine efficacy in older age groups could not be assessed but will be determined, if sufficient data is available, in a future analysis after more cases have accrued.” 

Oxford’s Prof Andy Pollard said that lack of data is reasonable as older adults were recruited later in trial as number of cases were very less due to their cautiousness in pandemic. AstraZeneca said that older adults were included in trial later. 

So, what does it mean for efficacy of vaccine in older adults? 

Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading said, “It’s important to stress that this is not evidence that the vaccine does not work, merely that the evidence does not currently exist to satisfy the authorities in Germany.” 

Some encouraging data is shared by Oxford – immune responses in older people are similar as shown in younger adults. Prof Pollard said, “We have seen a good immune response in healthy older adults in the phase 2 study and the MHRA reviewed further data on immune response in the phase 3 trial.” 

Germany’s issuance of an age limit for the vaccine is confusing for experts. Prof Danny Altmann of Imperial College London said, “When I look at the AZ phase 3 data for the over 70-group, I see a good response, similar to the other age groups.” 

On Monday, Handelsblatt, a German newspaper, claimed that AstraZeneca is showing as low as 8% efficiency in older adults as said by an unnamed source. The claims have been dismissed by AstraZeneca. German authorities have come to figure of 6.3% efficiency among older people, something rejected y experts as it is based on only 2 infections. 

Many experts also say that ongoing tussle between EU and AstraZeneca may have influenced Germany’s decision. 

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For concerned older people as of efficiency and safety of the vaccine, experts say that the AstraZeneca vaccine is both safe and efficient for all people, including older adults. 

Prof Stephen Evans, Pharmacoepidemiology professor at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, “There is no reason at all for anyone in the UK or elsewhere to think that this Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine is ineffective at any age. Its ability to be delivered to people in GP surgeries and care homes makes it a vital component in the attempts to reduce hospitalization and deaths, especially in the elderly.” 

Geopolitics and COVID-19, a map of the coronavirus vaccine

Geopolitics and COVID-19, a map of the coronavirus vaccine

If Asia, Africa, and South America are the winning ground for Chinese and Russian vaccines, the Northern countries of the world, Europe and the United States in the lead, but also Japan and South Korea, have chosen to focus on vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech and by Moderna. Except for India, which instead has chosen to focus on the vaccine developed in Oxford by AstraZeneca. There is an evident correlation between many Governments’ geopolitical and diplomatic relations and the anti-Covid vaccines’ distribution map. To realize that, it’s enough to look at where the different vaccines are currently available and authorized.

The vaccine produced by the American multinational Pfizer and developed by the German company BioNtech was currently authorized for emergency use in the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, Mexico, and is now also awaits the green light from South Korea and Japan. On March 17, 2020, Pfizer and BioNtech concluded an agreement providing for the development of the vaccine and its distribution throughout the world except China, where BioNtech has already entered into an ad hoc agreement with Fosun Pharma.

The same countries that approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine also authorized the vaccine developed by the American startup Moderna in collaboration with the American National Institute of Health, which, in turn, signed an agreement with the Swiss multinational Lonza for the worldwide production and distribution of the vaccine. The green light for the two vaccines in these countries was also facilitated by a special agreement that binds the authorities, called to authorize the distribution of drugs in their respective countries, and which involves the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Canadian, Swiss, and Japanese ones. Those allowed the managers of these agencies to participate in the European authorization process and, therefore, to share the collected data.

Despite this agreement, it will not be possible to launch a vaccination campaign before May in Japan due to national laws requiring nationwide testing of the vaccine before it can be authorized. The high costs and limits in the production of vaccines that are slowing distribution even in countries that have already booked several million doses such as the European Union and Canada with the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, are also an obstacle to the adoption of these vaccines in other countries of the world, especially the very populous and less rich ones such as India and the African ones. It is precisely these countries that are looking with the greatest interest at the other vaccines available.

For example, India started a nationwide trial of the vaccine, produced by the Anglo-Swedish multinational AstraZeneca and developed by the Jenner Institute of Oxford (UK).   The Serum Institute, one of the largest vaccine manufacturers worldwide, will produce it on-site. For Pfizer / Biotech and Moderna vaccines, the Indian market could remain closed, even if, in recent weeks, the relations between Moderna and Hyderabad Indian Immunological Limited (IIL) of Hyderabad have intensified for the local production of the American vaccine.

That would allow a considerable reduction in costs, and the leverage of the low price has also prompted Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil to look for the vaccine produced in India. It is not a coincidence that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is one of the two vaccines authorized for emergency use in India, together with the one produced by the Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech. India is the only country, after the United Kingdom, to have authorized the distribution of this vaccine. The vaccine will have a low cost, and AstraZeneca has stated that as long as the epidemic continues, it will not impose the charges deriving from the exploitation of copyright, or patent costs, on the vaccine’s final price. 

The same goes for the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which was first authorized in Russia in August, and which was then gradually adopted by countries that have a direct relationship with Moscow: Belarus, Serbia, Argentina, Bolivia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, and Turkmenistan.

However, it was China to use vaccines as a geopolitical offensive tool. Xi Jinping has exploited the Chinese biotech power (4 of the 12 vaccines currently authorized are of Chinese production) to consolidate relations with countries along the Silk Road and in the American continent, from Brazil to south-eastern Asia. Not to mention Africa, where China is implementing a real vaccine distribution infrastructure, several countries have now started concrete collaboration with the Beijing government on this front and have also signed important political agreements.

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For example, Ethiopia which will host one of the Chinese vaccine production sites just outside Addis Ababa, or Egypt and Morocco which, together with Brazil and Chile, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, hosted a series of trials that have allowed to evaluate the effectiveness of different vaccines produced by Chinese pharmaceutical companies. Once the trials are completed, these countries are now in the front row to receive the vaccines necessary for their respective vaccination campaigns.

Switzerland asks for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, how has Swiss neutrality changed?

Switzerland asks for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, how has Swiss neutrality changed?

Switzerland is applying for a seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The elections for membership in the period 2023/2024 will take place in June 2022. With a virtual event held in New York, to which the President of the Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis participated with a speech each, the candidacy is entering the final stage.

Switzerland officially presented its candidacy for the UN Security Council as early as 2011. After the election of its direct predecessor within the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) regional group for the period 2021/2022, it is now starting for Switzerland, the final phase of the candidacy. Which, with the slogan “A Plus for Peace”, was virtually presented to representatives of all UN missions on the evening of 29 October in New York. On Friday 30 Oct., the President of the Confederation and Federal Councillor Cassis informed the media in Bern about the event and the state of implementation of the candidacy. A seat on the Security Council will enable Switzerland to commit itself to its foreign policy objectives and to demonstrate its capabilities for peace and security.

President Sommaruga and Federal Councillor Cassis originally planned a trip to New York. Due to the restrictive measures on entry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place exclusively in a virtual manner. In her video speech, the President of the Confederation highlighted the strengths of the Swiss political system. “We are looking for consensual solutions both in our domestic and foreign policy. The only way to create consensus is dialogue.” Cassis underlined, highlighting the positive contribution that Switzerland would like to make to the Security Council. “We have a reputation for being reliable partners with a long tradition of promoting peace.” He added, also reiterating Switzerland’s commitment to the rule of law, democracy, peace, and security. When it comes to running for important UN bodies, it is customary for candidate states to present themselves appropriately to the electoral body.

Who would have thought that the highly reserved Switzerland, which entered the United Nations only in 2002, thanks to a referendum in which a little more than half of the voters agreed, had in the meantime gained such momentum as to demand a seat in the UN Security Council? The non-permanent seat coveted by Bern is one of the two vacating for the two years 2023-2024, and the Swiss government is exercising discrete lobbying to win it. However, this ambition for observers would clash with Swiss neutrality. 

The United Nations Security Council has to take positions in the ongoing conflicts. For a State being neutral means keeping out of armed conflict. Swiss neutrality dates back de facto to 1516, when one year after the battle of Marignano, the last armed conflict fought by the troops of the Confederation of the XIII and, which ended with a bitter defeat by the French army. Switzerland signed with king Francis I of France a peace treaty destined to make a school. Considered posterior as the birth certificate of Swiss neutrality, this treaty provided, among other things, for a court of arbitrators chosen by both parties to settle any future disputes. Thanks to this pact, Switzerland managed to keep a low profile in foreign policy for over two centuries. Only in 1798, with the country’s occupation by the French army, the old Confederation was forced to temporarily abandon its neutrality.

Officially, Swiss neutrality was recognized for the first time by the great European powers in the Treaty of Paris of November 20, 1815. On that occasion, Austria, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, and Russia undertook to respect Switzerland’s will not to interfere in future military operations and, at the same time, guaranteed territorial inviolability. Neutrality is a principle of international law. The rights and obligations, linked to a neutral country status, first written codification dates back to the 1907 Hague Conventions. Among the obligations, in addition to non-belligerence during a conflict and self-defense, also among the rights stands the inviolability of its territory. Neutrality is not one of the aims of the state in the Swiss Constitution but is mentioned in the list of duties of the National Assembly.

Throughout history, Swiss neutrality has taken on different forms and connotations. Faced with international conflicts, the Confederation cannot avoid questioning itself on the behavior to adopt and on the meaning to attribute from time to time to the concept of active and armed neutrality. At the end of the First World War, Switzerland joined the League of Nations and was also willing to adopt economic sanctions.

When the Second World War then broke out, to consolidate its neutrality, the country decreed the general mobilization of the army, thus sending a strong and clear signal to the potential aggressors who, in the event of an attack, would defend the own territory.

US-Mexico wall, pink swing to fly over.  The idea won the prestigious Design of the Year award

US-Mexico wall, pink swing to fly over. The idea won the prestigious Design of the Year award

A dozen pink swings. Simple but sturdy, in iron. The central pole crosses the border barrier and the seats that rise and fall on one side and the other. The children, happy, playing, and who can look at each other, albeit between the poles that reinforce the wall. It is the work that won the prestigious Design of the Year award among the 74 candidates chosen by the Museum of Design in London for the 13th exhibition, in 2020. The Teeter Totter Wall, during a symbolic 40-minute session, crossed the Wall that divides El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico.

It was built by Ronald Rael, professor of Architecture at the University of Berkeley in California, and Virginia San Fratelli, an associate of Design at San José State University. The idea arrived about ten years ago, after the passing of the law in the US, providing the construction of a barrier along the 3,145 kilometers that divides the two North American countries. “It has become increasingly clear, after the latest events in the US, that we do not need to build walls but bridges.” The professor explained. In the video that presented the swings, it is said that they are symbolically important because they show how things can be done.

Other videos had always been shot on the theme in 2019 and had been enormously successful enough to become viral on the social networks. The bright pink is not accidental. The drama of femicide, a real plague on Ciudad Juárez, inspires it. Hundreds of women died, and their bodies were found in the desert surrounding the northern Mexican city. A slaughter effectively described by Sergio Gonzáles Rodriguez in his “Bones in the Desert.” Most of the victims were girls employed in the fabric factories in Ciudad Juárez. Kidnapped, raped, and then killed by assassins on the orders of the city masters.

The two artists wanted to remember that the US-Mexico wall is a legacy that Trump leaves us. Without forgetting, however, that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not hesitate to build part of the barrier and to deport hundreds of irregular immigrants. “Trump spoke of the barrier and announced that he would raise it, posing as the man who saved America from invasions. But in reality, he continued the work of the others who had preceded him. Obama and Bush already built it for two thirds.”

 The selection for the award was very tough. Swings prevailed over the competitors, including a 3-D reconstruction of the Coronavirus, a Lee Han Jun set design on the Film Parasite, 4 Oscars in 2020, and a stab-proof vest made from the Union flag worn by British rapper Stormzy at Glastonbury in 2019.

Effects of climate change. Experts warn: “glaciers are disappearing”

Effects of climate change. Experts warn: “glaciers are disappearing”

Climate change is at the top of the concerns of young people around the world. The effects of terrestrial warming are there for all to see, and in a few decades, the world may no longer be as we know it. New forms of life are born, until a few decades ago, the Pico Humboldt glacier was present, at an altitude of 4940 meters, in Venezuela. The Pico Humboldt glacier in the Sierra Nevada National Park is the last in Venezuela. The climate crisis has accelerated its melting, which has become increasingly rapid over the last decade. For the total disappearance of the glacier, it is now a matter of a few years. Meanwhile, a new biodiversity colonizes the bare rocks. A new research by the Institute of Environmental and Ecological Sciences of the University of the Andes (Ula) has confirmed, documenting the dramatic impact of climate change on Andean glaciers.

Downstream of the Pico Humboldt is Mérida: they called it the city of eternal snow. Overlooking the Andes mountain range, the urban center is now the guardian of the little that remains of the Venezuelan glacier. The snow-capped peaks of the mountains formed its unique landscape. It was the only city from which people could see snow in the whole country. Now the ice remains only on the Humboldt summit, and it still resists thanks to its position on the mountain, protected by an inlet. But a new biodiversity takes the opportunity to colonize the unnaturally exposed lands. The researchers collected images and samples of the Venezuelan glacier between 2019 and 2020 and noted that it retreated at an unusual and alarming rate. From 1910, the year of its first measurement, before the Pico Humboldt ascended its height the following year, the glacier would have lost 99% of its mass.

According to the Institute of Environmental and Ecological Sciences of the University of the Andes, in 2019, the area covered by the glacier was just equivalent to five football fields, or 4.5 hectares, vs the 300 hectares in 1910. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, with the rise in temperatures, glaciers worldwide have been affected by global warming. And the tropical Andes are one of the most vulnerable regions. Almost 10 billion tons of perennial snow from glaciers around the world was lost from 1961 to 2016, with an increasing rate in recent years, according to research by United Space in Europe (ESA). Furthermore, after Greenland and Antarctica, the glaciers of Latin America are the ones that contribute most to the rise of the seas and are even more at risk due to pressure from the mining lobbies, as in Chile.

Researchers question the future not only of the Antarctic ecosystem but also of metropolises such as London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai as we know them. This scenario is feared by a study conducted by the Research Institute on Climate Impacts of Potsdam, together with the University of Potsdam, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Stockholm. More than half of the planet’s freshwater reserves are guarded by the Antarctic ice sheet, which is about five kilometers thick, Ricarda Winkelmann, co-author of the research, explains in a note released by the Potsdam Research Institute on Climate Impacts.

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing an increase in the temperatures of the atmosphere and ocean waters. The ice covering the South Pole loses mass and becomes less stable. That causes the sea level of the entire planet to rise.

Evading the global trend China’s economy bounces back, faster & harder than pre-pandemic

Evading the global trend China’s economy bounces back, faster & harder than pre-pandemic

It’s been a little over a year that coronavirus pandemic clawed China and started spreading across the country and beyond. Apart from the massive heart-wrenching effect on lives, the pandemic tore part global economy and China was no different. Now, China’s economy is steering its way back on track and is bouncing back fast and hard, better than it did pre-Covid. 

On Monday, the published economic data showed China recording growth of 2.3% in 2020. This made the Asian country the only major economy to show growth in a year when coronavirus was taking a toll on global economies. As competing economies, United States of America, Europe, Japan and India, are struggling to tackle ‘winter Covid-19 wave’, China is enjoying its view from the top with buoyant economy, claiming global leadership in the post-Covid-19 era. 

The National Statistics Bureau has highlighted China’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) recorded a rise of 6.5% during 2020 fourth quarter. This surpassed the growth in 2019 end which was 6%. China’s GDP crossed milestone in 2020, recording over $15 trillion or 100 trillion yuan. 

Bureau’s head Ning Jizhe said, “In an extraordinary year, China’s economy was able to record an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s a performance that is satisfactory to the people, watched by the world, and can be recorded in the annals of history.” He added that crossing GDP milestone by China reflects how “our country’s economic strength, science and technology strength, and overall national strength have jumped to a new level.” 

Spring 2020 saw SARS-CoV-2 virus containment by China, with small scale re-emergence in past few weeks. This has helped China keep on the crucial sectors like construction, heavy industry and export manufacturing working at a time when other nations were grappling the crisis. 

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi recently addressed the world leaders and said that under leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has recorded fast recovery and that China “has brought hope for the world economy to step out of the doldrums.” 

Employment too is picking up with boost in economy. China has successfully created 11.86 million jobs during 2020. 

But some economists highlight the impressive at first glance performance of China’s economy. It is fueled by country returning to old ways causing foundation of economy hollow and fragile – debt fueled infrastructure building, relying on heavy and old industries, including steel production.  

China is still facing global challenges in trade sector, including trade tensions with the US. This also brings in big challenge to incoming President Joe Biden and his administration who will have to deal and work on the strained relationship between US and China under Trump presidency. 

Facebook, step back on WhatsApp privacy after user leak. New rules postponed by 3 months

Facebook, step back on WhatsApp privacy after user leak. New rules postponed by 3 months

WhatsApp privacy: Mark Zuckerberg rethinks its last decision. On February 8, there will be no update to the WhatsApp privacy policy that will make the accounts of those who do not accept unusable. The forced sharing of some data with Facebook, which has raised a cloud of controversy worldwide, has been postponed for three months. In a matter of days, rival messaging apps like Telegram and Signal experienced a download boom. Although analysts believe that in key ones WhatsApp is so ingrained that its opponents can’t overthrow it, today, Facebook is in danger of losing ground in some markets

Step back of Mark Zuckerberg’s colossus on the new privacy rules of WhatsApp, which would have forced hundreds of millions of users outside Europe to share their data with the social network Facebook. The news caused the real escape of users attentive to personal privacy to other applications such as Signal, also following endorsements such as that of Elon Musk. And so, everything was postponed to May 15, the date on which you will be asked to review and accept the terms. The decision, the company explains, is linked to the “confusion” that has been created, also because “the latest update does not change anything” of the fundamental concept of the company.

“We are aware that our recent update has created a bit of confusion,” the company wrote. “Since the circulation of incorrect and untruthful information has caused concern, we want to clarify and make sure everyone understands the principles we rely on,” he adds. The application, writes WhatsApp, is based on a simple concept: everything you share with family and friends stays with you. “This means we will continue to protect your conversations with end-to-end encryption.” Affirmed the note. The new business options, adds the messaging service, are “optional” and allow users to exchange messages with companies that use WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is the most used messaging app for chatting. But many have also decided to try Signal, an application that allows you to communicate on iOS and Android. And which, for many, would be the safest app in the industry. Signal managed, in a short time, to sneak between Zuckerberg’s mobile application and Telegram, the other chat alternative to WhatsApp. Signal has several features that WhatsApp lacks: the two apps can coexist within our smartphones thanks to their particular peculiarities.

The apps, both available for iOS and Android systems and in the desktop web version, are similar but have features that allow you to distinguish one or the other in everyday use. Both Signal and WhatsApp can count on an intuitive interface. It doesn’t take much to understand how they work. You can make voice and video calls, create groups, and so on. With WhatsApp, it is possible to create group chats up to 256 users while on Signal we have a maximum of 1,000 users.

With Signal within the groups, it is not possible to see if one of our contacts has viewed a message or to check if he is online while on WhatsApp it is. Signal can count on many animated stickers, while on WhatsApp they have recently been introduced, and the functionality and use are limited. Signal also has an app for iPad and tablets, while WhatsApp does not. Signal can count on timed messages that self-destruct according to an indicated time limit. WhatsApp has recently introduced this function but indicating automatic deletion after seven days.

Since it arrived in the digital stores, Signal has distinguished itself for an important element: putting the users’ safety and privacy first. Before others, it introduced end-to-end encryption, the same available for some years also on WhatsApp. And it allows you to use an option that changes the keyboard in incognito mode, preventing the words used in the chats from being saved from the history of the smartphone or from the application itself.

Of course, WhatsApp has a large pool of users built over the years. Today everyone uses the app to text, and it is easier to get in touch with users via WhatsApp than via Signal, although the recent download boom could unbalance this element. The monopoly on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp is a reality that has been consolidating over the last few years. But this increasingly worries the users interested in knowing how this affects the processing of their data.

Is geopolitics impacting the global telecom supply chain?

Is geopolitics impacting the global telecom supply chain?

Global telecom supply chain: Huawei is among the biggest tech giants and owner of the 5G patent, in contrast to the Western firms. However, stopping Huawei’s access to 5G chipsets from US semiconductor firms can hurt the American economy and moderate the 5G expansion. Closing doors on China would additionally disable the 5G future development.

Analyst for 5G Markets, Leo Gergs, referred to how ABI’s study “shows that forbidding Huawei and ZTE from 5G arrangements and confining their admittance to silicon and semiconductor supply chains will have extreme ramifications on economic performance. Besides, restricting these Chinese companies will hamper 5G and 6G R&D.” 

5G is designed to provide high-speed data transfer at a large scale for future applications. However, since the Federal Communications Commission ordered the Chinese telecom goliaths Huawei and ZTE as the national security threat, it could repress their 5G plans.

Since, December 12, 2019, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the U.S. have chosen to ban Chinese company Huawei’s products. In 2020, the UK also annnounced that all Telecoms companies should stop using Huawei hardware in the 5G mobile network from Sept. The UK administration’s announcement came before the law was passed, which later banned the Chinese company from the telecom network.

Huawei has been a market leader in telecom infrastructure and hence is the largest buyer of such equipment. However, since the row over US national security threat, the outbreak of coronavirus, India- China border issue, and many more reasons, many nations have criticized China. It led to more imposed sanctions by the US or cut business ties with them by many nations. 

However, the future will tell if geopolitics will impact the global telecom supply or not. On Dec 15, 2020, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani, during a historic virtual ‘Collaborating for Digital India’ last year discussed the 4G and 5G technology, RIL-Facebook association, and the part businesses can play in building India’s future economy. 

The Facebook CEO praised Reliance for bringing the 4G revolution in India and that 5G was presently another big venture for the company.

How to stop Africa desertification? A great green wall dedicated to sustainable agriculture, reservoirs, and energy plants

How to stop Africa desertification? A great green wall dedicated to sustainable agriculture, reservoirs, and energy plants

Africa desertification: In February 2021, there will be a summit of the European Union and African Union leaders. The talks will be an opportunity to draw up a concrete program and take a sustainable development path. Because we need to rebuild the world left in ruins by the coronavirus pandemic, avoiding repeating the mistakes of the past. Ibrahim Thiaw, the executive secretary of the UN Convention for the fight against desertification, announced, recalling how it is above all young people – first and foremost, Africans – who ask for and have the right to change. The meeting will be an opportunity to relaunch the construction of a great green wall in Africa.

The idea is a wall of trees and land dedicated to sustainable agriculture, reservoirs, and energy plants. It is 8,000 km long and 15 wides. The project aims to restore 100 million hectares of arid and degraded land by holding back the desert’s advance in the Sahel region. Two hundred and fifty million tons of carbon dioxide and create a new economy with 10 million jobs. These are the most important numbers of the Great Green Wall, the most innovative natural work that man has ever built. That should be ready in 2030, in an ideal connection that horizontally cuts the Africa continent.

From Senegal to Djibouti, three times the size of the coral reef. The idea of ​​creating a natural wall to stop the advance of the Sahara Desert to the south was launched by Richard St. Barbe Baker in 1952, returning from an expedition in the Sahara Desert.

The English biologist and botanist had caught some signs. He noted that the lands on the border desert in a few decades would be overwhelmed by its advance. The scientist proposed a project to reforest a green belt 50 km wide for the 8,000 of the natural length of the corridor. The Sahel desertification process became evident and upsetting in the 1970s when, following droughts, they rapidly dried up.

The countries affected by this crisis began to discuss that old project which anticipated the effects but also offered possible solutions to stop them. Only in 2002, however, the project of the great green wall was officially presented and discussed within the African Union, which adopted it.

After five years, in 2007, it started with its construction in the 11 participating countries to which, in recent years, another nine have been added. That partly modified the initial corridor with the addition of off-screen areas to counteract the desert from the north and, at the same time, participate in the promised green economy. Algeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia, and Tunisia are the countries part of the project.

However, 15 years after the first stone or better from the first tree planted, things are very late and proceed in patches, with enormous differences and different timings from country to country. From the UNCCD report (the United Nations Convention Against Desertification, last September only 4 million hectares (out of the 100 million expected) were completely recovered. Of these, more than half 2.3 million hectares) are in Ethiopia. Another 18 million hectares are in processing, although not all within the official corridor.

These works have allowed the creation of just 335,000 jobs, with 90 million dollars in revenues per year, compared to the 10 million expected when the work will be fully operational. Among the countries that have planted the most trees, Ethiopia with as many as 16.6 million plants. While in the rear, there is Chad, only 1.1 million plants.

Why Caucasians Bank On the WHO-Covax Vaccine Programme

Why Caucasians Bank On the WHO-Covax Vaccine Programme

WHO-Covax Vaccine Programme: If you are a part of the Caucasia region, chances are you will need a strong friendship with the more powerful nations around you, to get hold of the best efficacy Covid-19 vaccine

The South Caucasian nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, have realized that they have to remain in good terms with Russia, Turkey and the rest of the West. All of them are aware that they will probably meet the first anniversary of the novel virus, when it hit their counties. But they might still have to wait their turn for the vaccine to start their respective immunization drives. 

In comparison, Turkey, Russia and the rest of West are already underway running their respective immunization drives. While Russia is experimenting dangerously with its own pathogen version (Sputnik V), Turkey has befriended Chinese Sinovac. Other Western regions are making use of either their own vaccine candidates or the ones which have been recognized by prominent medical boards worldwide. 

However, the Caucasian region is going to have to shake hands with one of the top players in the market. The other tunnel to take is the COVAX route. Under the Covax scheme, these nations that actively participated in the development of the vaccine will be given priority under a vaccine ration system. 

This would mean that the Caucasian regions countries that are primarily poor or struggle to get back on their feet after civil wars, could look forward to 2 billion doses. But this will only come through by Spring. They will need more supplies for which they have to knock the right doors. 

While the World Health Organisation’s COVAX scheme was meant to help poor nations secure covid-19 vaccines, it has run into problems due to lack of funds. The COVAX facility currently has 190 participating economies. This includes 98 higher-income economies and 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible. Of these, countries like Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia have expressed their interest in securing the vaccines, and have also paid up hefty amounts to receive required dosages. 

Azerbaijan has contributed the largest $21 million, while Georgia made an advance payment of $4.5 million. But Georgia has its own apprehensions and reservations, if the Covax programme decides to include Russian vaccine candidate to its lot. 

The Caucasian region is banking on the Covax programme heavily and continues to have its fingers crossed. 

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