WHO chief lambasts vaccine inequality, profits, demands elderly go first; China sees outbreaks across northeast; Dubai, party haven amid pandemic, faces biggest surge


From Associated Press


“Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest income country — not 25 million, not 25,000 — just 25. I need to be blunt: The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure,”


The World Health Organization chief has lamented vaccine inequality between the rich and poorer nations.


Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off the WHO’s week-long executive board meeting with the stark comparison: 25 vaccine doses for a country thought to be Guinea in Africa while more than 39 million doses have been given in nearly 50 richer nations, Jamey keaten reports.


He said it’s “not right” that younger, healthier adults in wealthier countries get vaccinated before older people in poorer countries. The WHO chief also raised the issue of the “profits” that drugmakers can make targeting their vaccines to richer countries.


China Outbreaks: The country is battling with virus outbreaks across its frigid northeast, prompting additional lockdowns and travel bans ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year holiday. The country reported another 118 cases, with 43 of those in the province of Jilin. Hebei province just outside Beijing saw another 35 cases, while Heilongjiang province bordering Russia reported 27 new cases. Beijing reported just one new case, though some communities and outlying villages there have been placed under lockdown.


Dubai Surge: Since becoming one of the world’s first destinations to open up for tourism, Dubai has promoted itself as the ideal pandemic vacation spot. But infections are surging to unprecedented heights in the United Arab Emirates. The daily virus case count has nearly tripled in the last month. Dubai is known for its cavernous malls, frenetic construction and legions of foreign workers. The city was built on the promise of globalization; its economy draws from the aviation, hospitality and retail sectors — all hard hit by the virus. Authorities are seizing on the country’s mass vaccine rollout as the only way to contain the outbreak, Isabel DeBre reports from Dubai.


Spain’s Pandemic Hospital: As a surge of infections is once again putting Spain’s public health system against the ropes, an emergency hospital seen by many as an extravagant vanity enterprise is getting a fresh opportunity to prove its usefulness. The Nurse Isabel Zendal Hospital was built in 100 days at a cost of 130 million euros ($157 million), more than twice the original budget. Yet as cases spiked again after Christmas and New Year’s, the Zendal has been getting busy, Aritz Parra reports from Madrid.


South Africa’s Trailblazer: The country’s pioneer Black food writer Dora Sitole, who quietly defied apartheid to win respect and a readership for African cuisine, died this month aged 65 of COVID-19. Hired by a canned foods company in 1980 to promote their products by giving cooking lessons in Black townships, Sitole went on to train as a Cordon Bleu chef, become food editor of a leading magazine, the author of several bestselling cookbooks and a television personality, Mogomotsi Magome reports from Johannesburg.

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