Coronavirus Global Roundup April 15: Over 2 million infected, US temporarily halts funding to WHO, BCG vaccine to be studied

Over 2.01 million people have now been infected with COVID-19 across the world, and over 127,500 people have lost their lives.

Myupchar April 15, 2020 20:35:46 IST
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Coronavirus Global Roundup April 15: Over 2 million infected, US temporarily halts funding to WHO, BCG vaccine to be studied

Over 2.01 million people have now been infected with COVID-19 across the world, and over 127,500 people have lost their lives.

President Trump has temporarily halted American funding for the WHO citing discrepancies in the organization’s response to the pandemic. The US is the biggest funder of the WHO and provides it with 15% of its total funds. The timing of the move was fiercely criticized by many including the UN, the New Zealand and Australian PMs, as well as the American Medical Association (AMA).

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Representational image. Image by ISIDORO MATIAS GONZALEZ from Pixabay.

The US broke its previous record of most deaths in a day - 2,228 were reported there in the last 24 hours. 

Spain’s death toll fell to 523 in the last 24 hours, cautiously raising hopes of a sustained decrease in the daily death toll. 

Denmark has slowly begun to reopen its schools. On Wednesday, schools in just around half of the municipalities were opened after a month of closure. A blanket reopening is expected for the 20th of April. 

According to the UN, 74 million refugees in the Arab region are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 because of water scarcity. This may prevent them from adequately washing their hands to prevent the infection, as recommended by experts world over.

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro remains steadfast in COVID-19 denial 

The Brazilian PM Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 , constantly relegating the virulence to that of the flu. Over the Easter weekend, he was seen addressing large crowds and not observing physical distancing recommendations; there is even footage of him wiping his nose on his wrist and then shaking hands with an elderly woman. 

Brazil, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Nicaragua remain the four countries that continue to undermine the public health impact of the disease due to their leadership. Public health experts the world over are fearful of large scale outbreaks in these nations given the floundering government response. 

Brazil has reported over 25,000 cases and over 1,500 deaths - figures that experts deem underestimates. Brazil’s Health Minister, Luiz Mandetta, has repeatedly contradicted his president and has tried to communicate the dangers of the virus - it is feared that he may be asked to resign due to his dissent. 

Australia and The Netherlands test the BCG vaccine, WHO says lack of evidence currently 

The BCG (bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccine is used in many developing countries against TB. Studies have shown that it seems to boost the immune system and may protect against a range of pathogens. It has been used against leprosy and studies have shown that children vaccinated with it have lower death rates from various respiratory infections. 

Interest in the vaccine grew after data from the BCG atlas (which looks at the geographic spread of the vaccine) was correlated with WHO data on COVID-19 prevalence; crude numbers showed that countries that vaccinate with BCG had lower rates of the virus. Since then many experts have faulted this correlation and its limitations; testing is not widespread enough in poorer countries to actually confirm fewer cases, for example. The WHO, on Sunday, said that there was not enough evidence to make claims about BCG.

Having said that, researchers are suggesting that clinical trials need to be attempted to gather robust data on these claims since the widespread effects of BCG merit further investigation. 

COVID-19 may put over 100 million children at risk for Measles

UNICEF in a press release has said that 24 countries have paused their Measles immunization programs because of the COVID-19 lockdown. These developments fall in line with updated WHO guidelines; governments have been recommended to pause preventive immunization campaigns in places of no active outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases while sustaining immunization activities to the best of their abilities in areas where there are active outbreaks. 

UNICEF endorsed these measures but urged governments to identify children that are unvaccinated to prevent outbreaks in especially vulnerable communities. 

Even though Measles is vaccine-preventable, it killed over 140,000 people in 2018.

For more information, read our article on the right way to wash your hands to avoid coronavirus infection.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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