How COVID-19 startled Rwanda that seemed to have it under control

Christophe Hitayezu

Down To Earth | April 01, 2021

How COVID-19 startled Rwanda where authorities thought they have it under control

Since the first case of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was identified on March 14, 2020, Rwanda — a sub-Saharan landlocked country with an estimated 12 million people on an area of 26,338 square metres — has put in place various control measures. It organised a bi-monthly cabinet review to mitigate the spread of coronavirus while also conducting efficient tracing, testing and isolating of patients.

Rwanda increased its testing capacity, with over 4,000 tests daily and up to 1,012,451 tests by March 1, 2021. The effort has led the country to being ranked first in Africa and sixth globally in managing the pandemic and making the information accessible to the public, by the Australian think-tank Lowy Institute.Read More »


IMF’s double standards on pandemic packages

Prabhat Patnaik

People’s Dispatch | April 04, 2021

The COVID-19 crisis has seen a very different response from the advanced countries compared with the Third World countries. The former have unrolled substantial fiscal packages for rescue and recovery while the latter have been trapped in fiscal austerity.

Among Third World countries, India’s fiscal package has been perhaps the most niggardly, amounting to no more than 1% of GDP; but even other Third World countries have not fared all that much better.Read More »


Explained: How Intellectual Property Rights are blocking vaccine production

Peoples Dispatch | April 04, 2021

Estimates suggest that the mass of the population in wealthier countries are likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid of 2022. However, in poorer economies, mass immunization will take until 2024, if it happens at all. These countries will pay the cost of this delay in the form of 2.5 million avoidable deaths.

What is standing in the way of expanding production and carrying out mass vaccination campaigns across the world?Read More »


Plague Songs

Martin Rowson

Culture Matters | March 31, 2021

Plague Songs

In May 2020 the award-winning cartoonist Martin Rowson set himself the challenge of writing a Lockdown Diary in verse. The result is Plague Songs, a unique cycle of furious, bleakly comic and often offensive poems about COVID-19, fiercely inventive and desperately funny. Rowson, who recovered from the virus at the start of the year (‘sweating in freezing fits, embalmed in bed/ In sulphurous miasmata, my joints like broken walnuts,/ With hogtied eyeballs and less energy than dissipating smoke’) records in manic verse the long lockdown Summer of 2020 – coughs and sneezes, lockdown-haircuts, funerals and furloughs, hangovers and hauntings, track and trace, when Death and Pestilence were playing on the swings and visiting the elderly in their Care Homes.

Plague Songs is also book about living in Banarnia – a nightmarish world of jingoism and xenophobia, hierarchy and inequality, government incompetence, Boris Johnson’s world-beating wet dreams, and the deadly twin viruses of stupidity and selfishness. What rhymes with COVID except bovid? Is Matt Hancock the Tory Party’s answer to Fred West? Does every shroud have a silver lining?

Plague Songs is also available here on CD, set to music by Welsh musician and playwright Jon Tregenna.

Recalled to Life

by Martin Rowson

You’ve been stuck indoors so long you’re Monte Christo’d,
Scratched days runed on the walls,
Your eyes Ben Gunning madly,
So stir crazy now most mornings you can’t stir.

You’ve been stuck inside so long you’ve gone full Withnail
Breakfast every morning
From last night’s takeout’s tinfoil
Cold Korma which you spoon in with a shoehorn

You’ve been stuck inside so long that you’ve Rasputined,
Charles Manson in the mirror,
Homer Simpsoned in your y-fronts
De-evolving til you’re now the Missing Link

You’ve been stuck indoors so long you’ll Dr Manette,
But you’ve been recalled to life!
The shops have opened! There’s a fire sale
On strait-jackets and shrouds on down the High Street!

Cover image: Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson is a multi-award-winning cartoonist, writer and broadcaster. Photo: Fred Rowson.



Preparing for the next pandemic

Nature Medicine | March 15, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened a window of opportunity for rethinking the way countries prepare for public-health crises. This window must not be wasted.

A year has gone by since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. Nearly 100 million people have become sick worldwide, more than 2 million have died, and many survivors are experiencing long-haul symptoms. Despite advances in the vaccination and clinical management of patients with COVID-19, the end of the worst public-health crisis in a century is not nearly in sight yet. In this issue, we launch a special Focus dedicated to understanding the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to begin to explore the lessons that can be learned from the mistakes made in handling the current health crisis, in order to prepare for future crises.

Read More »


Has COVID peaked? Maybe, but it’s too soon to be sure

Smriti Mallapaty

The Nature | March 18, 2021

People shop while wearing face masks in Singapore

Mask-clad Singaporeans throng the city’s Chinatown on the eve of Lunar New Year in February 2021. Singapore has been more successful than many other regions at controlling outbreaks of COVID-19.Credit: Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Has the world hit peak COVID-19? It’s a question scientists are beginning to ask as global case figures tumble and mass vaccination efforts gather speed. But a plethora of new variants that threaten to circumvent vaccines and existing natural immunity mean it’s too soon to be sure, say researchers.

“The early evidence is encouraging, but the possibility of variants escaping pre-existing immunity is a clear and present concern,” says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. “There are lots of places where population immunity and vaccine coverage is quite low, and those places will remain vulnerable.”Read More »


Vaccines: Patents or life!

European Secretariat of the International Peoples’ Assembly | March 11, 2021

Organizations have denounced that even amid a devastating pandemic, pharmaceutical companies and other entities have put profits over people.

One year after March 11, 2020, the day on which the World Health Organization WHO defined the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, we are still grappling with new waves, heavy restrictions, and a number of deaths reaching over 550,000 only in Europe.

The substantial public resources that have financed the research of private pharmaceutical companies have seemingly “worked”. As of today, there are more vaccines that have completed the control phases and a large part of the scientific community is convinced that the vaccines are the most suitable tool for overcoming the pandemic, along with, as we always highlight, the necessary strengthening of the public health system and the community-based medicine.Read More »


Can COVID spread from frozen wildlife? Scientists probe pandemic origins

Nature | February 26, 2021

Two people in protective gear and visors swab food in a freezer at a market.
Chinese health workers test frozen food and packaging for traces of SARS-CoV-2.Credit: Sipa Asia/Shutterstock

Momentum is growing for the suggestion that the coronavirus can spread from infected frozen wildlife. A World Health Organization (WHO) fact-finding mission in China did not rule out the idea that this mode of transmission contributed to early outbreaks of COVID-19 — although investigators say it’s unlikely to have started the pandemic.

Read More »


COVID-19 and Homelessness: When Crises Intersect

Travis P Baggett and Jessie M Gaeta

The Lancet | February 05, 2021

In this issue of The Lancet Public Health, Thomas Roederer and colleagues

present the findings of a large-scale serosurvey of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among people experiencing homelessness and precarious housing in the greater Paris region. More than half of those sampled had SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibodies, reflecting a substantially higher burden of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection than that seen in the general population. The findings are notable for several reasons.

Read More »

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