WHO’s review of two Chinese COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use licensing – a prerequisite for their inclusion in the Covax Facility global vaccine distribution programme – is proceeding as scheduled.
The World Health Organization’s review of two Chinese Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use licensing - a prerequisite for their inclusion in the Covax Facility global vaccine distribution programme - is proceeding as scheduled. Kate O’Brien , director of the WHO’s immunisation department, said on Thursday meetings to discuss Sinopharm and Sinovac were planned for Monday and May 3, respectively. “We are pleased that we are at a point that these review meetings can be scheduled and we are looking forward to … the formal review meeting of the [emergency licensing] process,” O’Brien said. “The WHO has been in constant touch with the two companies to prepare for the official review meeting.”Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The scheduling of the meetings means the reviewers have the required information and could finish their report before these dates. “The meetings are planned based on the expectations that reports from all the reviewers will be completed in time for that meeting,” O’Brien said. “Occasionally, unexpected things happen but the meeting is expected to take place as the dates have been shared.” According to past practice, the emergency use licensing (EUL) will be granted shortly after the reviewers’ recommendation at the formal meeting, opening the way for the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to be included in the Covax programme led by the global health agency. A WHO endorsement would also boost confidence in the two Chinese vaccines, which have faced pressure over a lack of transparency and confusing data. They have been administered to hundreds of millions of Chinese people. More than 100 million doses have been exported to developing countries, although Sinopharm has yet to give details about its late-stage clinical trials. China ’s CanSino distances
AdStreamen Sie Netflix or Pay TV channels such as SKY, DAZN, Maxdome, beliebigen Filme oder Fernsehsendungen auf Ihren Großbildschirm.South China Morning PostUS senators propose more programmes to help competition with ChinaMore aid to Africa and Latin America, greater funding for technology industries and a more robust US development bank were among the initiatives added on Wednesday to a landmark bill intended to improve the US’ ability to compete with China. “The issues facing us today in foreign policy, and perhaps for the entire 21st century, is going to be China, China and China,” said Jim Risch of Idaho, the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in the hearing on the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. “I can’t overstate the significance of this bill.”Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The legislation, which enjoys strong bipartisan support, represents an effort by Congress to strengthen US tools deemed necessary to counter Beijing and to bolster US capabilities as the two economic giants increasingly face off as “strategic competitors”. “China is strategic competition – not because that is what we want or what we have tried to create but because of the choices that Beijing has and is making,” said Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, the committee’s chairman. “China today is challenging the United States and international community across every dimension of power – political, diplomatic, economic, innovation, military, even cultural – and with an alternative and deeply disturbing model for global governance.” US lawmakers prepare a sweeping effort to counter China The legislation is now expected to go to the full senate for debate and a vote. While it has several steps to go before enactment, the hearing underscores its strong support and broad ambitions. Risch predicted that it could end up with as many as 80 votes in the 100-seat Senate, an extraordinary level of support amid an era in Washington of deep partisan division. Even before Wednesday’s amending, the bill was already 281 pages and is almost certain to grow. A Pew Research poll in May 2020 found that nine out of 10 Americans regard China as a competitor or an enemy, rather than as a partner. The bill as written would add new sanctions on Chinese officials accused of human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang; strengthen US ties with Taiwan; and try to further limit Beijing’s military operations and territorial claims in the South China Sea and beyond. The legislation follows a recent spike in military tensions involving the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province, and in waters around the Philippines. The bill would also earmark US$10 million to “promote democracy” in Hong Kong and require a State Department report on ways that China uses Hong Kong’s unique status to circumvent US laws and safeguards. Several senators cited Beijing’s policies toward the Uygurs in the far western Xinjiang region as justification for their hardline amendments. Up to 1 million of the mostly Muslim community are detained in camps there, according to civic groups and the United Nations, with some accounts accusing China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has upheld a Trump administration determination that the abuses constitute genocide, although that wording is not included in this bill. Beijing has characterised the camps as employment and training centres, a claim that has been met with growing scepticism in the US and Europe. In a bid to bolster its case, the Chinese embassy in Washington – just as the hearing was starting on Wednesday morning – announced an online event entitled “Xinjiang is a wonderful land”. The May programme is to include a 20-minute session on “Xinjiang residents on their everyday work and life”. One addition to the bill on Wednesday would include more effective programmes to counter China’s financial aid, lending and persuasion campaigns in Africa and Latin America, with senators bemoaning shortfalls in US efforts in those regions. Ideally, senators said, those would also include attempts to ramp up vaccine distribution to counter Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy” around the world. The problems facing US companies looking to return home from China Another amendment would add funding to make the US more competitive in countering Beijing’s bid to establish supremacy in key technologies, as outlined in its Made in China 2025 economic blueprint. This is one of dozens of US efforts and proposals to make supply chains less dependent on China, bolster US semiconductor capacity and put more research funds into science and technology. “The best thing we can do is to start by investing in ourselves,” said Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close ally of President Joe Biden. But Coons also warned that state and federal funding is limited in the wake of the pandemic and its related economic downturn, which would require “tough choices” on some provisions in the Menendez-Risch legislation. Another new provision strengthens the US International Development Finance Corp as it tries to compete against the China Development Bank, which has played an instrumental role in Beijing’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure programme. Proposed reforms include treating equity investments as loans and raising the agency’s equity cap to US$100 billion, from US$60 billion. Senators acknowledged, however, that Chinese spending leaves the US in the dust. China’s development bank is more than 10 times the size of its US counterpart, while Beijing’s loans to developing countries totalled US$462 billion from 2008 to 2019, vastly more than Washington’s outlays, they said. “American businesses need more tools to compete with China,” said Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey. “The US is decidedly being left behind.” Several amendments did not make it into the bill, including one by budget hawks to cut financing for the National Science Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank. Another sought to upgrade the title of Americans working at the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy on the island, from “director” to “representative”. Some also questioned the effectiveness of some spending in the bill, including a proposed “Countering Chinese Influence Fund”, that has a five-year price tag of US$1.5 billion. Weifeng Zhong, a fellow at the libertarian Mercatus Centre, said he found it “refreshing” that “US policymakers recognise the increasing importance of the US-Taiwan partnership”. However, he added, “many of the proposed uses of the fund are about making Americans aware of China’s malign influence – which they already are – while much-needed details on how policymakers would actually confront it are still lacking.”More from South China Morning Post:US and EU should join forces to check China’s influence in Africa, Indo-Pacific, Republican senator proposesChina’s strategy in Africa ‘isn’t always working’, Biden UN nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield tells senatorsUS lawmakers urge multilateral approach to counter ChinaThis article US senators propose more programmes to help competition with China first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
2 days agoSouth China Morning PostFourteen directors, five workers at 15 travel agencies arrested on suspicion of attempting to cheat Hong Kong authorities out of nearly HK$3 million by using forged papers for subsidy schemeFourteen directors and five employees of 15 travel agencies have been arrested on suspicion of attempting to cheat the government out of nearly HK$3 million (US$386,500) under a subsidy scheme to relaunch Hong Kong’s tourism industry and foster local economic revival. The 13 men and six women, aged 32 to 83, were accused of using forged documents to apply for subsidy under the Green Lifestyle Local Tour Incentive Scheme. Police said it was the first offence of this kind for the scheme. The fake documents used in the applications were mainly receipts from restaurants, tourist bus companies and insurance firms, according to the force.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “We suspect travel agencies involved did not organise related tours and used fake receipts to apply for the government subsidy. The amount involved was HK$2.95 million in total,” Chief Inspector Lo Yin-lam of the Eastern district crime squad said. Police arrest three after victim loses HK$69 million in huge phone scam The scheme, designed to stimulate spending and support tourism and related sectors, including catering and transport, was introduced in December, 2019. Travel agencies are required to organise green tours to apply for subsidy under the scheme. The cash incentive amount per tour participant is HK$200 and the maximum amount of cash incentives each travel agent can get is HK$200,000. The case came to light when the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong assessed applications and called related parties, such as restaurants and tourist bus companies, to verify. Lo said the fraud involved 16 applications filed by 15 local travel agencies between May and July last year. One of the applications, involving HK$50,000, was approved while the others were rejected. “The travel agencies involved are relatively small in scale and have been operating for between two and 20 years,” he said. After an investigation, officers arrested the 19 Hongkongers during a series of raids on Tuesday and Wednesday. Police arrest six over HK$7.5 million online scam preying on city’s jobless The suspects were arrested for conspiracy to defraud – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail. As of Wednesday afternoon, all the suspects were being held for questioning and had not been charged. Police said the investigation was continuing and further arrests were possible.More from South China Morning Post:Hong Kong police arrest three after victim loses HK$69 million in huge phone scamHong Kong police arrest six over HK$7.5 million online scam preying on city’s joblessPolice bust fraud syndicate, arrest 24 accused of conning Hong Kong credit card companies out of HK$85 millionThis article Fourteen directors, five workers at 15 travel agencies arrested on suspicion of attempting to cheat Hong Kong authorities out of nearly HK$3 million by using forged papers for subsidy scheme first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.Read more: Yahoo Singapore »
1.8 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine: Health minister
A total of 1.2 million people have completed the full vaccination regimen, says Mr Gan Kim Yong.
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