Friday, April 3, 2020
Can You Be Re-Infected After Recovering From Coronavirus? Here's What We Know About COVID-19 Immunity.Troubling headlines have been cropping up across Asia: Some patients in China, Japan and South Korea who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and seemingly recovered have been readmitted to the hospital after testing positive for the virus again. Because SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was only discovered a few months ago, scientists are still trying to answer many big questions related to the virus and the disease it causes. Among them is whether patients can be reinfected by the virus after they seem to recover from the symptoms. With other coronavirus strains, experts say the antibodies that patients produce during infection give them immunity to the specific virus for months or even years, but researchers are still figuring out if and how that works with COVID-19. The answer has huge implications for the spread of the disease, since researchers believe it will continue to crash across the world in waves, hitting the same country multiple times. Can you get re-infected after recovering from COVID-19? There remains a lot of uncertainty, but experts TIME spoke with say that it’s likely the reports of patients who seemed to have recovered but then tested positive again were not examples of re-infection, but were cases where lingering infection was not detected by tests for a period of time.
Gender equality in the time of COVID-19.In a report published earlier this week, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) points out that disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls worse. With women representing 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally, special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers, the report says. In times of crisis, women and girls may be at higher risk of intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence due to increased tensions in the household. Also, sexual and reproductive health and rights is a significant public health issue that requires high attention during pandemics. Safe pregnancies and childbirth depend on functioning health systems and strict adherence to infection prevention, the report says. “Clearly, we must fight the virus for all of humanity, with a focus on people, especially the most affected: women, older persons, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and vulnerable groups,” Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed throughout the pandemic
UN working to fight COVID-19 and achieve Global Goals. The coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity for the human family to act in solidarity and turn this crisis into an impetus to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth Almost 25 million people could lose their jobs due to a coronavirus-induced economic and labour crisis, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has projected. In her blog, ILO Senior Economist Janine Berg warned that people in informal employment would not have social protection they need in times of crisis. She noted that the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) said that countries should guarantee at least a basic level of social security to all, and progressively ensure adequate levels of protection to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. “In light of the COVID-19 crisis, now is a good time to heed this advice and restructure and rebuild the systems we have in place,” she emphasized. Goal 6: Water and Sanitation One of the most effective ways to slow down transmission is to wash or sanitize hands. However, globally three billion people do not have access to even basic hand washing facilities at home. Lack of access to clean water affects vulnerability to disease and ill health. It is for this reason that UN-Water members and partners are committing to the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, which will unify the international community and deliver fast results in countries at an increased scale as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Goal 4: Quality Education According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), roughly 1.25 billion learners, or 72.9 per cent of total enrolled learners, worldwide have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak as of 20 March. “In this crisis, which is first and foremost a public health crisis, our thoughts are of course with the sick and all those who are suffering today and struggling against the coronavirus,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, adding that “We must, however, remain mobilized, because this crisis also tells us several things that are very dear to UNESCO’s mission.” UNESCO is supporting Governments for distance learning, scientific cooperation, and information support. Goal 17: Partnerships To make all the goals a reality will require the participation of everyone, including Governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and people around the world. The fight against COVID-19 is no exception.
How to minimize the impact of Coronavirus on food security“The economic consequences of this disease could end up hurting more people than the disease itself.” Avoiding protectionism, monitoring prices and supporting the vulnerable through social safety nets can limit the impact of the outbreak.In the past few weeks, as the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection spread to reach pandemic proportions, we have developed an obsession with figures and statistics — how many new cases have been reported from how many countries? How is the infection curve growing? What is the mortality rate and how does that compare with that of ‘normal’ flu? But these are not the only numbers keeping people awake at night. While still uncertain in its magnitude, the economic impact of the outbreak is of great concern too. While the food and agricultural sector should in principle be less affected than others, illness-related labour shortages, transport interruptions, quarantine measures limiting access to markets and supply chain disruptions resulting in food loss and waste could affect supply. On the demand side, a loss of purchasing power caused by the disease could change people’s eating patterns, resulting in poorer nutrition. Panic purchases of food — as those recently witnessed in countries around the world — could break the supply chain and cause localized price hikes. Apart from the food security implications of a COVID-19-triggered economic slowdown, an extensive spread of the disease in a poorer and more food insecure country could take a heavier toll on the economy than in those currently affected.
COVID-19 and the 5 major threats it poses to global food security. Virus risks undermining efforts to reverse trend of rising hunger. Entering 2020, the number of hungry and malnourished people around the world was already on the rise due to an increase in violent conflict and climate change impacts. Today, over 800 million people face chronic undernourishment and over 100 million people are in need of lifesaving food assistance. The novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, risks undermining the efforts of humanitarian and food security organizations seeking to reverse these trends. As former International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Director General Shenggen Fan, writes, “COVID-19 is a health crisis but it could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken.” Every major outbreak in recent memory — Ebola, SARS, MERS — has had both direct and indirect negative impacts on food security. This is what the experts are saying about the likelihood and nature of such impacts from COVID-19: 1)COVID-19 poses a great threat to nations lacking robust social safety nets. Safety-net systems are critical lifelines to help stem the negative economic and nutritional impacts of COVID-19. Many developing countries, however, lack safety-net systems to fill that void. In fact, less than 20 percent of people living in low-income countries have access to social protections of any kind, and even fewer have access to food-based safety net. 2) COVID-19 may cause breaks in food supply chains, food shortages and food price spikes. So far, the novel coronavirus has not shown a major direct impact on the supply or price of staple foods in places affected by the virus or globally. During the SARS and MERS outbreaks in China there was also minimal disruption to markets and prices locally, owing to sufficient buffer stocks and measures taken to ensure the continued flow of goods. This has not always been the case, however, in sub-Saharan African. The Ebola outbreak in 2014, for example, led to dramatic increases in the prices of staple foods in countries impacted in West Africa. Furthermore, the food-price spikes of 2007/8 demonstrate that export restrictions, market speculation and panic behaviour were, in part, responsible for the dramatic increase in global food prices in that period — measures we are not protected against today. In many developing countries, millions of families already spend upwards of half of their income on food in normal circumstances. Countries that rely heavily on imported food to meet demand, including sub-Saharan Africa, face disproportionate risk from supply chain failures, especially in the face of border-crossing closures. Finally, it is the impacts of farmers leaving their fields fallow (or facing delays in planting and harvesting) because of sickness and breakdowns in non-food supply chains, like fertilizer and other critical inputs, that may ultimately most impact developing country economies. 3)COVID-19 may cause the global economy to slow or fall into recession, exacerbating extreme poverty and hunger. 4)COVID-19 may prove especially deadly for people suffering from chronic or acute hunger or malnourishment. 5) COVID-19 poses a great threat to nations suffering from pervasive poverty and poor healthcare infrastructure.
Preventing Global Food Security Crisis under COVID-19. The COVID-19 outbreak is showing a new trend. While the situation in China has improved dramatically, several countries, especially the Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, and Iran, have been reporting more new cases. In fact, these countries have reported more new confirmed cases than China, most of which are in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic in Hubei province. Global food security already faces challenges COVID-19 is a health crisis. But it could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken. The world is already facing food and nutrition security challenges. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 820 million people across the globe are already suffering from hunger, although the Chinese number reported by FAO is grossly overestimated. Close to 150 million children in countries around the world are stunted because of a lack of proper nutrition. And in many countries, hunger and malnutrition have been on the rise for the past three years due to conflicts and the refugee crisis, climate change, and worsening inequality, with the Middle East and Sub-Saharan regions being particularly vulnerable. Epidemics like HIV/AIDS, Ebola and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have had negative impacts on food and nutrition security — particularly for vulnerable populations including children, women, the elderly and the poor. For example, when the Ebola epidemic hit Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 2014, rice prices in those countries increased by more than 30 percent and the price of cassava, a staple in Liberia, skyrocketed by 150 percent. Need to learn from previous epidemics The SARS and MERS outbreaks had relatively little impact on the economy and food and nutrition security of China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, largely due to the country’s resilience and ability to cope with emergencies. Countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, and Canada, too, showed such resilience, because they have enough food reserves and boast of vibrant value chains linking the domestic and international markets. Act now to prevent food security crisis The novel coronavirus is still spreading and it is difficult to say when it would be contained. So to ensure food security for all, we need to take urgent actions at the global and country levels. First, there is a need to closely monitor food prices and markets. Transparent dissemination of information will strengthen government management over the food market, prevent people from panicking, and guide farmers to make rational production decisions. And to nip market speculation over supply in the bud, the government should strengthen market regulation. Second, it is necessary to ensure international and national agricultural and food supply chains function normally. China has set a good example of how to ensure food security during the current epidemic by, for instance, opening a "green channel" for fresh agricultural products, and banning unauthorized roadblocks.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Agribusiness: Summit to explore scaling up innovation in agriculture. The fourth Agri-Food Tech & Innovation Summit (AFTI EA 2020), hosted by the Africa Agri Council (AAC) is set to explore the upsurge in new thinking and the game-changing developments in agricultural practices and technology, and what is needed to scale these innovations to reach smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. "We have the technology and the innovations to make a difference, yet these innovations aren't reaching the smallholder farmers who need them most - they lack access to the right information at the right time," says Ben Leyka, AAC MD. The summit takes place between 25-26 March 2020 in Nigeria. Michael Hailu, director, CTA states that "with the right policies, innovation and investment, the continent’s agriculture could be transformed into a powerhouse not only to feed a growing population but to create decent employment for millions of young people." #Agribusiness #foodsecurity #foodsafety
Saturday, February 15, 2020
Scientists fear coronavirus spread in countries least able to contain it.Concerns are rising about the virus’s potential to circulate undetected in Africa and Asia.Infections of the new coronavirus have now been detected in 24 countries outside China. But researchers warn that cases might be going undetected in some nations that are considered at high risk of an outbreak but are reporting fewer cases than expected, or none at all. The possibility of unreported cases is particularly concerning in countries with weaker health-care systems, such as those in southeast Asia and Africa, which could quickly be overwhelmed by a local outbreak, experts say. Although no cases have yet been reported in Africa, some countries there, such as Nigeria, are at particular risk because of their strong business ties to China. Researchers have been using flight data to create models of the virus’s possible spread around the world. On 11 February, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses officially named the virus SARS-CoV-2, highlighting its similarity to the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
A father who wrongly believed he had the coronavirus threw stones at his family to keep them away from him and then hanged himself so they wouldn't catch the deadly virus in India
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Scientists Say Bats Could Be Linked To Coronavirus As Videos Of Bat Soup Appear Online.Scientists in China have suggested the coronavirus could have originated from fruit bats, while videos of people tucking into bat soup have been shared online. A statement published in the South China Morning Post: "The Wuhan coronavirus' natural host could be bats... but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate."The report comes as videos have gone viral showing people tucking into bat soup - considered a delicacy in parts of China. Clips shared online show a bat floating inside a bowl of broth, while another shows a woman eating a bat with a pair of chopsticks. Scientists are still unclear on how the virus has spread, but the report found it has a 'strong binding affinity' to a human protein called ACE2. Scientists say this binding protein has a 'high resemblance to that of SARS'.more