The World Health Organisation (WHO) team conducting the investigation into the origins of the CCP virus has failed to determine where the virus originated.
Peter Ben Embarek, head of the WHO mission, said further studies are required to determine if the virus was imported or if the virus had been spread directly from animals to humans.
He implied the virus was introduced into Wuhan from elsewhere, as there was no evidence showing a SARS-CoV-2 spread in Wuhan prior to Dec. 2019, despite studies saying otherwise.
Instagram Bans Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Over COVID-19 Vaccine Claims
Facebook-owned Instagram this week banned Robert Kennedy Jr. from the photo sharing app over claims he circulated misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook said in a statement to news outlets.
Pelosi Aims to Finalize Relief Bill by Month’s End
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she expects lawmakers to complete legislation based on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus relief bill by the end of February.
As House committees works to cobble the sweeping bill into place, Pelosi predicted the legislation would become law before enhanced unemployment benefits expire in mid-March and said an address by Biden to a joint session of Congress would come after the measure is done.
Merkel Promises Lockdown Will Not Last a Day Longer Than Necessary
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Thursday to have a little more patience after agreeing with regional leaders to extend the country’s CCP virus lockdown until March 7 and said restrictions would not last a day longer than necessary.
Addressing the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, Merkel said the extension was needed to avoid a third wave due to the risk posed by new virus variants.
South Africa to Vaccinate Health Care Workers With J&J Vaccine as Part of ‘Implementation Study’
South Africa will move forward with its phase one vaccination program to inoculate its health care workers with the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, though the vaccine has not been granted an emergency authorization usage.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Feb. 10 that the country could no longer wait to immunize its health care workers as the J&J vaccine has “proven effective” against the highly transmissible B.1.351 variant of the CCP virus—which causes COVID-19—that was first identified in the country in November 2020.
Hard-Hit Restaurants Feed Doctors, Nurses
At Oregon Health & Science University, the state’s largest hospital, morale was low. Then, the food started coming: hot and delicious individually wrapped meals from some of the city’s trendiest restaurants, a buffet of cuisines from Chinese to Italian to Lebanese to Southern comfort food.
“I’ve never been more tired, mentally, physically and emotionally. It really has drained me,” nurse Henry Valdez said. “When these meals started, I was just in awe. One or two times it brought a tear to my eye, the generosity of people, because it has not been an easy year—and the food provided comfort.”
Portugal Extends Lockdown
Portugal extended on Thursday a nationwide lockdown until March 1 to tackle its worst surge of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began as authorities scramble to relieve pressure on overstretched hospitals.
The country of just over 10 million fared better than other nations in Europe in the first wave of the pandemic, but 2021 brought a devastating surge in infections and deaths. Nearly 14,900 people have died of COVID-19, with cumulative infections at 778,369.
Kent Variant Likely to ‘Sweep the World’: UK Expert
The CCP virus variant first found in southeast England is on course to “sweep the world,” a British expert in microbiology has said.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, said that the B117 strain, commonly referred to as the UK variant or the Kent variant, is not just more transmissible than the original strain but has been reported to be “slightly more lethal” as well, though evidence for its higher lethality is not yet firmly established.
Biden’s School Goal Draws Blowback
President Joe Biden is being accused of backpedaling on his pledge to reopen the nation’s schools after the White House added fine print to his promise and made clear that a full reopening is still far from sight.
Biden’s initial pledge in December was to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days in office. In January he specified that the goal applied only to schools that teach through eighth grade. And this week the White House said that schools will be considered opened as long as they teach in-person at least one day a week.
Chicago Begins Return to Classrooms
Chicago parents Willie and Brittany Preston have spent nearly a year wrestling with online school schedules for their six children, often with everyone hovered over devices around the dining room table.
Starting Thursday, they’ll get relief. Their youngest daughter, 4-year-old Lear, returns to class as the nation’s third-largest school district slowly reopens its doors following a bitter fight with the teachers union over COVID-19 safety protocols.
WHO Scientist Thinks Pandemic ‘Started in China’
An Australian scientist appointed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) team investigating the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus has said he thinks the contagion originated from bats in China.
Prof. Dominic Dwyer, a microbiologist from Sydney, told 9News after returning home from the month-long investigation that there was “very limited” evidence it originated outside China. “There is some evidence, but it’s not really very good,” he said, adding that the virus likely went from bats through an intermediate animal like a pangolin or a cat where it can replicate.
Surge Takes Toll on Portugal’s Undertakers
Portugal fared better than others in Europe in the first wave of the pandemic in March-April, but the new year brought a devastating surge in infections and deaths, overwhelming the health service and funeral homes.
More than 14,700 people have died of COVID-19 in Portugal, with cumulative infections since the start of the pandemic at nearly 775,000. “I have never felt this emotional, with so many consecutive funerals,” funeral parlor worker Carlos Carneiro told Reuters.
Not Perfect, but Saves Lives, AstraZeneca Says of Vaccine
AstraZeneca’s CCP virus vaccine is not perfect but will have an impact on the pandemic, its chief executive predicted on Thursday as the two-dose shot, developed with Oxford University, has been hailed as a “vaccine for the world” because it is cheaper and easier to distribute than some rivals.
But its rapid approval in Europe and elsewhere has been clouded by doubts over its most effective dosage and interval between doses. Data also showed it was less effective against a fast-spreading South African variant of the virus, and the company has been embroiled in a row with the European Union over supply delays.
Rebecca Zhu, Zachary Stieber, Meiling Lee, Alexander Zhang, Caden Pearson, The Associated Press contributed to this report.