WHO warns of vaccine distrust
As the world celebrates advances in vaccines against the novel coronavirus, a top WHO expert warned that public distrust risked rendering even the most effective treatments useless against the pandemic as global death toll from the virus topped 1.3 million yesterday.
Infections are surging throughout America and Europe, with governments forced to take more drastic action despite fears about the devastation inflicted on their economies.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,305,039 people since emerging in China late last year, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources at 1100 GMT yesterday. At least 53,438,640 cases have been registered.
On Friday, 9,995 new deaths and 660,538 new cases were recorded worldwide. The countries with the most new deaths were the United States with 1,596, followed by France with 932 and Mexico with 568.
Bars and clubs in New York, the epicenter of the US's spring outbreak, were ordered to close at 10pm on Friday and the state governor warned schools could move to online only teaching as early as tomorrow.
Even with a vaccine expected to receive approval soon, the head of the WHO's immunisation department warned that misinformation and mistrust colouring people's acceptance of scientific advances could hamper its effectiveness.
"We are not going to be successful as a world in controlling the pandemic with the use of vaccines as one of the tools unless people are willing to get vaccinated," Kate O'Brien told AFP.
Lebanon entered a new two-week lockdown on Saturday after reported infections crossed the 100,000 mark, with hospitals in the crises-wracked country almost at capacity.
Virus restrictions forced Hong Kong's traditionally boisterous and colourful annual gay pride parade online Saturday.
Across India meanwhile, millions ignored social distancing advice and gathered to pray at temples or go shopping for the Diwali, the festival of light.
In his first public address since being declared the loser of the November 3 election, Donald Trump on Friday touted medical breakthroughs that happened under his watch but said he remained firmly against new lockdowns.
He predicted a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which the companies have said is 90 percent effective in trials so far, would receive emergency approval "extremely soon."
The United States, the country hardest hit by Covid-19, meanwhile saw 188,858 more cases and 1,596 more deaths Friday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
New antivirus measures came into force in Ukraine yesterday, with all non-essential businesses ordered to stay closed for the weekend.
Officials in Kiev pulled back from a nationwide lockdown, admitting the country's already-battered economy could not stand it.
With hospitals saturated with Covid-19 cases, Greece is also shutting its schools and kindergartens until the end of the month.
Even the partial restrictions have sparked protests in Kiev, as populations across the world grow ever wearier of restrictions on daily life.
In an Ifop survey in France 60 percent of respondents admitted to flouting the country's latest lockdown rules at least once by making up a false excuse to go out or meeting up with family and friends.