UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The United Nations calls on all member states, including China, to fully cooperate with the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid Beijing's rejection of a further investigation into the origins of the COVID-19, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a press briefing on Friday.
"We implore all member states, including China, to cooperate fully with the World Health Organisation, and if the World Health Organisation believes it requires further information, we hope that they will all cooperate", Haq said.
On Thursday, China's National Health Commission rejected the WHO plan for a second phase of the investigation, claiming its criteria were "insulting" and heavily suggested the laboratory leak possibility.
On Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the second study will include an audit of labs and research facilities in the area where the first cases of COVID-19 were registered in December 2019. The new study is part of a five-stage plan which the WHO put together to identify where did the coronavirus originate.
In March, the WHO published a report of the first fact-finding mission of its experts to Wuhan, where the world's first coronavirus outbreak occurred. Experts concluded that the leakage of the virus from a state-run laboratory in Wuhan was "extremely unlikely". They also said that there was a high possibility that the virus was transmitted to humans from bats through another animal.
MADRID (Sputnik) – The Spanish government intends to go on with its vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in 2022 and 2023, and is considering a third dose, Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Friday.
"Everything points to a 'yes'", Darias said in an interview with the Spanish Onda Cero broadcaster when asked if further vaccination of the population would be necessary in the following years.
She added that Spain had already secured Pfizer vaccine shots worth 1.8 billion euros ($2.1 billion), and Moderna doses for over 450 million euros for 2022 and 2023, the minister went on, adding that the authorities intended to administer a third vaccine dose to the country’s citizens. However, the government has yet to decide when the measure may be taken, she added.
"We must continue to vaccinate everyone until we reach, if possible, almost 100% [share of vaccinated]. And we must continue to vaccinate the rest of the world because no one can be safe until everyone is [vaccinated]", Darias noted.
As of Friday, nearly 64%, or some 30.2 million people, in Spain have been administered at least dose of a vaccine, and almost 53%, or over 25 million citizens, have completed the course.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German BioNTech will supply an additional 200 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to the United States, bringing the total amount of the contracted doses to 500 million, a joint press release said Friday.
"Pfizer … and BioNTech … today announced that the U.S. government has purchased an additional 200 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. These doses are expected to be delivered from October 2021 through April 2022", the statement read.
Under the existing contract, the manufacturers will provide the US government with a total of 500 million doses of the drug, according to the release. Out of the additional doses, 110 million will be delivered by year-end, while another 90 million will be supplied from January to April 2022.
"[Washington] has the option to acquire an updated version of the vaccine to address potential variants as well as new formulations of the vaccine, if available and authorized", the companies said.
Pfizer and BioNTech also said they are planning to supply an extra 500 million doses of the vaccine to the US for further donations to poorer nations.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Biden administration is cutting by a quarter the mortgage payments for homeowners hit by hardship from the coronavirus pandemic measures and moving missed payments until the end of the borrowing period to prevent foreclosures, the White House said on Friday.
The departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs are taking steps “to provide homeowners with a roughly 25 percent reduction in borrowers’ monthly principal and interest payments to ensure they can afford to remain in their homes and build equity long-term”, the White House said in a statement.
With more than 160 million Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and more getting back to work, life is returning to normal for most people but many others still need continued assistance, the White House said.
“For homeowners who can resume their pre-pandemic monthly mortgage payment and where agencies have the authority, agencies will continue requiring mortgage servicers to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower.”
The White House said in some cases, even larger reductions were possible, such as the new “COVID-19 Refund” option, where the Veteran Affairs Department will can purchase from the servicer a borrower’s pandemic-era arrearages and, if needed, additional amounts of loan principal, to help distressed owners keep their homes.
The US economy has rebounded in 2021 at a growth rate of 6.4 percent, but the Federal Reserve has cautioned it does not expect full employment - defined by a monthly unemployment rate of 4 percent or lower - to occur anytime soon. Officials have said of the 21 million jobs lost in 2020 during the height of the lockdowns and other restrictive measures, more than 7 million jobs are yet to return. The monthly unemployment rate in June stood at 5.9 percent.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Australians travelling in New Zealand through at least the next eight weeks will have to quarantine upon arrival, the New Zealand government said on Friday.
"Quarantine-free travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand is being suspended as the COVID-19 situation there worsens. From 11:59 pm (NZT) [11:59 GMT] today Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free. This will be in place for at least the next 8 weeks," the government said.
"The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine (COMIRNATY) in individuals 12 years and older. Previously, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was provisionally approved for use in individuals 16 years or older," the TGA said in a press release.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The final report on the study of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 will be prepared by October, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko announced on Friday.
"Today, observations are being completed. By October, reports on the Sputnik V vaccine will be prepared, interim reports have already been published," Murashko said during an educational event on vaccines.
NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – India has confirmed 35,342 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of those infected having reached 31,293,062, the country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday.
The death toll from the disease has reached 419,470 people, with 483 new fatalities being recorded over the past day.