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On May 18, 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the Zika virus to be an international public health emergency, a move that was met with both praise and criticism. While the WHO took the right step to warn the public about an outbreak of a potentially dangerous virus, some health officials and experts criticized the WHO’s decision to name the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” However, even though the WHO may have had good intentions for declaring a health emergency, the organization’s decision to do so may have been premature, and it might be preventing other health officials and experts from getting the funding they need to fight the Zika virus.

In a recent op-ed, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discusses how the World Health Organization’s new vaccine, Covid-19, will help fight the disease in developing countries. While Covid-19 is effective, it’s also expensive— $100 for every dose, and 11 doses are needed for the vaccine to be effective. That’s why Fauci believes that it is the responsibility of rich countries to help other countries struggling with Covid-19.

A health worker prepares a dose of Kovaxin vaccine at a vaccination centre in Kolkata, India, on 24. April. Sudipta Das/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Dr Anthony Fauci said India’s native Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, neutralises the B1.617 variant first identified in the South Asian nation.

We continue to receive daily data on this (variant B1,617), but the most recent data have been obtained by examining sera from recovered Covid 19 patients and from people who received the vaccine used in India, Covaxin. It was found to neutralize 617 variants, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday during a virtual press briefing of the White House Covid-19 response team.

He described India 617 as unsettled, adding: Despite the real challenges we see in India, vaccination can be a very, very important antidote.

Covaxin is 78% effective against coronavirus, according to data released on 21. April data released by Bharat Biotech, which developed the drug in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a government agency. The efficacy against the severe form of Covid-19 was 100%, resulting in fewer hospitalizations, the press release said.

A total of 25,800 people between the ages of 18 and 98 participated in the vaccine trials. Efficacy is based on an early analysis of 43 Covid-19 cases. Thirty-six cases occurred in participants who received the placebo, compared to seven in participants who received the vaccine, according to a March press release.

About the vaccine: Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. This is the first Covid-19 vaccine developed entirely in India. Following the successful sequencing of a novel coronavirus, the ICMPD entered into a public-private partnership with Bharat Biotech in March 2020 to develop a virus isolate as a vaccine candidate.

During a webinar on 23. In April, leading Indian epidemiological experts confirmed a link between the increased prevalence of the B1.617 variant and the recent outbreak in the country.

In Maharashtra we have seen it (the variant identified for the first time in India) increase, we have seen an epidemic, we have seen it increase in Delhi, we are seeing an epidemic, these are very important epidemiological correlations, said Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. According to Agrawal, the B1.617 variant was first discovered in India in December.

Another expert said the spike in Greater Delhi was due to the prevalence of variants, including the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the UK, and the B1.617 variant.

We saw an increase from 28 percent of mutant variants in the second week of March… …to 50 percent by the last week of March… The increase we see in Delhi is, I think, directly correlated with the type of variants we see, says Sujit Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control.

India reported 360,960 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, a world record for the number of new cases reported in a single day, according to India’s health ministry, CNN reported.

The total number of cases is now 17,997,267, including 201,187 deaths.

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