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G20 agrees to temporary debt standstill for poorest countries

first_imgThe International Monetary Fund and World Bank had been calling on the governments to provide six months of debt relief to the countries most in need, and finance ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies agreed to do so on Tuesday providing the G20, including China and Russia, was in favor.”This is a powerful, fast-acting initiative that will do much to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of millions of the most vulnerable people,” the leaders of the IMF and World Bank said in a joint statement.The IMF on Monday approved a six month standstill on debt payments from 25 nations, mostly in Africa.The G20 officials also reiterated their commitment to deploy “available tools” to deal with the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19.”Our efforts must continue and be amplified,” the communique said.Topics : The Group of 20 nations announced support Wednesday for a temporary halt to debt payments by the world’s poorest nations as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.”We support a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries that request forbearance,” the G20 finance ministers and central bankers said in a communique following their virtual meeting. “All bilateral official creditors will participate in this initiative.” The group, which brings together the world’s largest economies, also called on private creditors, working through the Institute of International Finance, to participate in the initiative that extends to the world’s 76 poorest countries.last_img read more

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Efficacy and safety first: Experts urge government not to put vaccines on pedestal

first_imgIn a country battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of economics and public health, the government appears to be pinning its hopes on vaccine development, as new cases and deaths continue to soar in what experts have deemed as a never-ending first wave.In a statement on Wednesday to express President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s condolences on the deaths of 100 doctors from COVID-19, presidential spokesperson Fadjroel Rachman ended it by pointing to the government strategy of securing potential vaccines.That includes, Fadjroel said, “looking for vaccines produced by any parties in the world; research and production collaboration between [state company] Biofarma, universities and local and foreign institutions; and the Merah-Putih vaccine research by Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology.” Indonesia is rolling out the trials for Sinovac’s CoronaVac on 1,620 people along with several other countries, while G42 is carrying out trials in its home country on 45,000 participants of 85 ethnicities.However, determining how long immunity resulting from vaccination will last requires not only clinical trial results, but also post-use surveillance after the vaccination program is rolled out next year, said Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) biotechnology researcher Wien Kusharyoto.“No matter what, we still have to monitor, even after the vaccination is rolled out, the efficacy and the impacts among those already vaccinated. It’s too early to say that it will last six months to two years,” he said.Experts have urged the government not to put potential vaccines on a pedestal, saying that whether it can truly rely on the vaccines will depend on their eventual efficacy and safety to be shown in the results of the trials that are still under way, and the government should rather prepare for the “worst-case scenario”.The efficacy threshold would be 50 percent, though ideally it should be around 70 percent, said independent molecular biologist Ahmad Utomo, adding that past vaccine development had shown that failures were not uncommon.Lower than 50 percent, then vaccines would be out of the question, he said. If it hovered just above it then the government should reconsider whether putting in so much money into the vaccination program would be as effective as if the money was to be used on improving public health.This means scaling up tests, enhancing contact tracing, providing financial assistance to those in isolation and improving treatment, he said.”The government should look into which of these will be most cost-effective,” Ahmad said.Read also: Grim picture as Indonesia enters sixth month of COVID-19 outbreakBoth Terawan and Erick have said that the vaccination program could possibly put a strain on the state budget if it were to be made free for all.Erick has suggested those who can afford it pay for it themselves, with current estimated costs ranging between US$25 and $30, as the government expects to cover some 93 million Social Security Agency (BPJS) beneficiaries in a vaccination program expected to start next year.But with the race to find vaccines, the trailing economic and political interests, and the government having secured hundreds of millions of doses, experts have raised concerns that these will all affect decisions by authorities.Wien of LIPI expressed the hope the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) would remain independent from all sorts of intervention in evaluating clinical trial results and issuing permits, otherwise public health would be at stake.”If there are undesired effects [from the vaccines], there won’t be trust among the people; this will put the vaccination program itself at risk and will automatically affect economic recovery efforts too,” he said.BPOM head Penny Lukito hoped the trials would be successful, pointing to the fact that phase III human trials would not start if phase I and II trials were a failure.”The clinical trials we are on now are the phase III trials; this means that the phase I and II trials involved humans and have succeeded,” she told a press briefing on Wednesday. “The phase III is not about whether [the vaccine is] a failure or not, but about gathering more data [on its efficacy and safety].”Topics : The government says it has so far secured 30 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year, in addition to between 290 million and 340 million doses by next year, following state-owned companies’ agreements with China’s Sinovac Biotech, and the United Arab Emirates’ Group 42 (G42) Healthcare.Read also: Vaccines won’t bring back normal life at once: Experts”As a note, the vaccines developed today for COVID-19 [is for an immunity that lasts] six months to two years. It’s not a vaccine shot [for] a lifetime [protection],” said State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir in a meeting last week with the House of Representatives.Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto told the meeting that this meant the vaccine could possibly have to be injected once every six months, or one, or two years.But experts have expressed caution about this estimate, wondering where it came from given that the two potential vaccines are still in phase III clinical human trials, which would determine the vaccines’ efficacy and safety.last_img read more

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Syracuse running back Rene to undergo surgery, out for season

first_imgSyracuse running back Steve Rene is out for the rest of the 2012 season due to an upper-body injury that required surgery, SU Athletics announced in a press release Tuesday.Rene, who saw action in five games as a kick and punt returner, will undergo surgery on Nov. 27. Team physician Dr. Irving Raphael will carry out the procedure, and Rene will be evaluated throughout the rehabilitation process. Whether or not he can participate in spring football will be determined in March 2013, according to the release.Rene battled injury throughout preseason camp and during the season, and he finished with eight punt returns for one yard and nine kick returns for 193 yards. Rene hadn’t played in the Orange’s last three games.SU strong safety Ritchy Desir leads the team with 19 punt returns for 100 yards while wide receiver Jeremiah Kobena has been the team’s primary kick returner, with 20 returns for 386 yards. Comments AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm Contact Ryne: rjgery@syr.edulast_img read more

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