Covid-19 wrap | WHO-led probe team visits China’s Wuhan virus lab, New Zealand approves vaccine

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  • A team of investigators working on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has visited a major virus research laboratory in China’s central city of Wuhan.
  • More than half of New Delhi’s 20 million inhabitants may have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a government serological survey.
  • New Zealand on Wednesday warned against "vaccine nationalism" that could delay the rollout of international shipments after its medicines regulator provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.


WHO-led Covid-19 probe team in China visits Wuhan virus lab      

A team of investigators working on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has visited a major virus research laboratory in China’s central city of Wuhan and is scheduled to meet a top virologist, as they continue to seek clues to the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Driving through thick morning mist, the team, led by WHO virus expert Peter Ben Embarek, arrived at the heavily guarded Wuhan Institute of Virology on Wednesday morning.

“I am looking forward to a very productive day, meeting the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked,” team member Peter Daszak, who is the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, said from his car as it drove in.

Aljazeera

New Zealand approves Covid-19 vaccine, warns against nationalism

New Zealand on Wednesday warned against "vaccine nationalism" that could delay the rollout of international shipments after its medicines regulator provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she still expected supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech product to arrive in the country by end-March, but expressed concern at any attempt to limit exports.

"The world just can't afford for that to happen. We won't be safe until we have widespread rollout across the globe," she told a news conference.

"So it's in everybody's interest that we see vaccine programmes continuing to roll out in other countries."

Ardern urged New Zealanders to get inoculated as soon as vaccines were available.

Reuters

Half of New Delhi residents exposed to Covid, says gov’t survey

More than half of New Delhi’s 20 million inhabitants may have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a government serological survey whose findings echoed earlier private-sector research.

But the survey, conducted between 15 to 23 January and based on some 28 000 samples, suggests the true figure among its 1.35 billion population is dramatically higher and approaching herd immunity levels, when the majority of the population becomes immune to the disease.

“In the fifth sero survey done in the national capital of Delhi, [coronavirus] antibodies have been detected in 56.13 percent of the city’s population,” Delhi state’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Twitter after the report was published on Tuesday.

“The last survey found 25-26 per cent seroprevalence. This means Delhi is inching toward herd immunity. Cases are also declining at less than 200 per day and low positivity rates. But I would appeal not let your guard down. Keep your masks on,” Jain told reporters.

Aljazeera

Two million Australians in lockdown after one coronavirus case found

About 2 million Australians began their first full day of a strict coronavirus lockdown on Monday following the discovery of one case in the community in Perth, capital of Western Australia state, but no new cases have since been found.

Authorities ordered a five-day lockdown of Perth after a security guard at a hotel used to quarantine people returning from overseas was found to have contracted the virus.

The state government said 66 people have been deemed close contacts of the unidentified guard and none of those already tested were infected.

"In total 13 close contacts have now tested negative and of those 11 high-risk contacts have been moved into hotel quarantine as an extra precaution," Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan told reporters in Perth.

Tests on the rest of the close contacts were expected to be completed on Monday, McGowan said.

Reuters

WHO director-general says Covid-19 vaccine nationalism harmful for all

Covid-19 vaccine nationalism is harmful for all, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, and said weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the coronavirus pandemic.

"Despite the growing number of vaccine options, current manufacturing capacity meets only a fraction of global need," the WHO director-general said in a piece published in Foreign Policy magazine. "Allowing the majority of the world's population to go unvaccinated will not only perpetuate needless illness and deaths and the pain of ongoing lockdowns, but also spawn new virus mutations as Covid-19 continues to spread among unprotected populations," he wrote.

Reuters

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