A new report to be released Tuesday reveals details about the origins of the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic was most likely transmitted from bats to humans through another animal, the draft report obtained by U.S. news outlets said.
A leak from a lab is “extremely unlikely” as a cause of the coronavirus outbreak, which was first detected in China’s central city of Wuhan in late 2019, the report concluded.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged Monday that he had received the report over the weekend but declined to confirm the details in the draft copy seen by media outlets, including The Associated Press, which first reported the story.
“All hypotheses are on the table and warrant complete and further studies,” Tedros told a news conference from Geneva.
The WHO sent an international team to China earlier this year to explore the origins of the virus. However, critics of that study say it had limitations due to what the government of China allowed researchers to see.
U.S. President Joe Biden is urging Americans not to ease up on wearing face masks and other coronavirus precautionary efforts amid growing evidence of a surge of new COVID-19 infections.
President Biden made the plea Monday during a White House event where he announced that at least 90 percent of all U.S. adults would be eligible for vaccination, expressing concern over a handful of states that have eased or completely lifted restrictions as more people are being vaccinated against COVID-19. The president directly appealed to all state and locally elected leaders around the country to either reinstate or maintain mandatory mask wearing.
“Please, this is not politics” Biden said. “This is deadly serious.”
Biden’s plea mirrored those made hours earlier by Dr. Rochelle Walenksy, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during a virtual White House health briefing. Dr. Walensky grew emotional as she spoke of “the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” noting the U.S. had averaged about 60,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, an increase of 10 percent.
Walensky said the current trajectory is putting the U.S. on the same course as France, Germany and Italy and other European countries who are undergoing a dramatic rise in new coronavirus cases.
“I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends,” she said.
Meanwhile, the CDC issued a new report Monday saying the new two dose COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are 90% effective at preventing infections under real world conditions, with the first dose 80% effective after the first two weeks.
U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson announced Monday it has reached a deal to supply the African Union with up to 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine beginning this summer.
The single-dose vaccine still must receive authorization from regulators in African countries. However, it has already been approved for emergency use by the WHO, the European Union and the United States.
In Canada, health officials said on Monday they would stop offering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people under age 55 because of concerns of rare but serious blood clots, especially in younger women.
The pause comes after many European countries briefly stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine while investigating the reports of blood clots. Almost all of them resumed using the vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA), a drug regulating agency, said the vaccine was “safe and effective” and said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the side effects.
Source: Voice of America