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Global COVID-19 Cases Top 33 Million As Death Toll Nears A Million

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The world is about to cross the one million mark coronavirus deaths.  998,000 persons have been killed by the virus globally as confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide surpass 33 million. The infection situation has worsened in some countries.

The United States is worst hit with more than 7 million confirmed cases, and 205, 000 deaths.

India has struggled to stop an alarming surge in cases the past three months, more than six million cases have been reported there, with the number of deaths nearing 100,000.  More than 95,500 patients have died in India so far.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Africa has reported both the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world.  Fears that the pandemic might devastate the African continent have so far abated.

W.H.O. emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan said “certainly, the reported numbers and most importantly, the reported deaths from Africa are low, and they’re the lowest in the world. Dr Ryan said Africa has many lessons to teach the world about how to be resilient and creative.

Ryan credited humanitarian agencies, governments in Africa and community health workers across Africa for the protection of vulnerable populations, such as those living with HIV and refugees.

The global health body urged Africa to remain on guard.

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COVID-19 Infection Gives Some Immunity, But Virus Can Still Be Spread, Study Finds

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As United Kingdom, struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and amid attempt to accelerate vaccination efforts, a study of healthcare workers in the European country has found people who have had COVID-19 are highly likely to have immunity to it for at least five months but there is evidence that those with antibodies may still be able to carry and spread the virus.

Preliminary findings by scientists at Public Health England (PHE) showed that reinfections in people who have COVID-19 antibodies from a past infection are rare – with only 44 cases found among 6,614 previously infected people in the study.

But experts cautioned that the findings mean people who contracted the disease in the first wave of the pandemic in the early months of 2020 may now be vulnerable to catching it again.

They also warned that people with so-called “natural immunity” – acquired through having had the infection – may still be able to carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nose and throat, and could unwittingly pass it on.

Susan Hopkins, the senior medical adviser at PHE and co-leader of the study, whose findings were published on Thursday said “we now know that most of those who have had the virus, and developed antibodies, are protected from reinfection, but this is not total and we do not yet know how long protection lasts.”

“This means even if you believe you already had the disease and are protected, you can be reassured it is highly unlikely you will develop severe infections. But there is still a risk you could acquire an infection and transmit (it) to others.”

A statement on the study said its findings did not address antibody or other immune responses to vaccines now being rolled out against COVID-19, or on how effective vaccines would be. Vaccine responses will be considered later this year, it said.

According to British government data, a daily record of 1,564 deaths was on Wednesday reported in the country bringing the total death toll to more than 89,000 persons.

The UK with its population of more than 66 million has injected 2.6 million persons with the first dose of a vaccine. Earlier, the British government approved three main COVID-19 vaccines – by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford and Moderna.

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‘Unique’ COVID-19 Variant Detected In Kenya

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Kenya says it has detected a unique coronavirus variant in the south-east of the country, following a study by state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute between June and October.

Scientists at the institute say more research needs to be done to assess the impact of the variant.

Kenya has so far confirmed nearly 100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states – Botswana, Zambia and the Gambia in west Africa.

WHO says Africa has now surpassed three million COVID-19 cases, and daily case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak.

WHO an average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases.

“Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point,” it added.

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WHO Reform Needed In Wake Of Pandemic, Public Health Experts Say

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Public health experts have said on Wednesday, the role and remit of the World Health Organization (WHO) should be examined in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reforms will likely be needed to free it from politics and give it more independence.

Speaking at the Reuters next conference, British and Swedish epidemiologists Neil Ferguson and Anders Tegnell, and the head of Nigeria’s Centre for disease control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the united nations health agency-W.H.O. Had faced difficulties in leading a global response to the pandemic.

All three experts say they expect populations in their countries and others to face restrictions designed to slow the spread of the pandemic for at least the first half of 2021, and maybe longer if the rollout of vaccines takes more time.

But they expressed hope that, by the end of the year, life might start to look a little more like a pre-pandemic normal.

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