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  • Improving understanding of and response to infodemics during public health emergencies
    on 23rd February 2021 at 8:21 am

    Following the first global infodemiology conference held in July 2020, WHO and partners coordinated a joint call for papers  with 5 academic journals representing different scientific fields, all related to components of the science behind managing infodemics. This week the first of these academic journals published its special infodemic feature. The research findings contribute to filling the knowledge gap identified through the WHO public health research agenda for managing infodemics released earlier this month. In the issue published by Health Security, you’ll find original peer-reviewed articles that address practice- and research-based analysis of misinformation during epidemics, characteristics of successful online messaging, disinformation and epidemics in the context of biowarfare, understanding the impact of different news sources on risk perception, and use of community listening and feedback to respond to false information. The commentaries focus on the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of crisis and emergency risk communication, scientific situational awareness, and approaches to social media messaging. Through research being published, the science of infodemic management will be built on solid and scientifically tested methods and analytics, all of which can contribute to the design of policies and interventions that will help health authorities monitor, evaluate and respond to the current and future infodemics. 

  • No-fault compensation programme for COVID-19 vaccines is a world first
    on 22nd February 2021 at 3:25 pm

    New programme makes compensation available to eligible individuals in 92 low- and middle-income countries without need to resort to law courtsThis is the first and only global vaccine injury compensation mechanismThe programme is funded by a small levy on each dose supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC   The World Health Organization (WHO) and Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB), through ESIS Inc., a Chubb company, signed an agreement on behalf of the COVAX Facility on 17 February 2021 for the administration of a no-fault compensation programme for the 92 low- and middle-income countries and economies eligible for support via the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) of the COVAX Facility. As the first and only vaccine injury compensation mechanism operating on an international scale, the programme will offer eligible individuals in AMC-eligible countries and economies a fast, fair, robust and transparent process to receive compensation for rare but serious adverse events associated with COVAX-distributed vaccines until 30 June 2022.By providing a no-fault lump-sum compensation in full and final settlement of any claims, the COVAX programme aims to significantly reduce the need for recourse to the law courts, a potentially lengthy and costly process. ESIS, as the independent administrator of the programme, was selected in accordance with WHO’s procurement rules and procedures, and charges no fees to applicants.All vaccines procured or distributed through the COVAX Facility receive regulatory approval or an emergency use authorization to confirm their safety and efficacy. But, as with all medicines, even vaccines that are approved for general use may, in rare cases, cause serious adverse reactions. “The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has been matched by the largest ever rollout of new vaccines under the ACT-Accelerator and its vaccines pillar, COVAX. This no-fault compensation mechanism helps to ensure that people in AMC-eligible countries and economies can benefit from the cutting-edge science that has delivered COVID-19 vaccines in record time,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We are pleased to be collaborating with Chubb, which has the capabilities to support the COVAX facility through its global network and claims handling ability. WHO’s agreement with Chubb offers further protection and confidence in the life-saving power of vaccines.”“The No-Fault Compensation fund is a massive boost for COVAX’s goal of equitable global access to vaccines: by providing a robust, transparent and independent mechanism to settle serious adverse events it helps those in countries who might have such effects, manufacturers to roll out vaccines to countries faster, and is a key benefit for lower-income governments procuring vaccines through the Gavi COVAX AMC,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi.The COVAX no-fault compensation programme will be operationalized through its web portal (www.covaxclaims.com) by 31 March 2021, which will include resources such as the programme’s protocol, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and information on how to submit an application.Eligible individuals may apply for compensation under the programme once the portal becomes operational, even if a COVAX-distributed vaccine is administered to them before 31 March 2021.The programme is financed initially through Gavi COVAX AMC donor funding, calculated as a levy charged on all doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed through the COVAX Facility to the AMC eligible economies until 30 June 2022.WHO is working with Chubb to secure insurance coverage for the programme with Chubb as lead insurer.“Chubb is proud and honoured to work with the World Health Organization and its partners on the critically important COVAX programme,” said Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chubb. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on people and economies around the globe, and the development and deployment of efficacious vaccines is a crucial step toward ending this crisis. However, a vaccination strategy is only as effective as the number of people it reaches, which is why the COVAX facility is so critical. Access to the protection offered by a vaccine should not be limited or restricted. All countries, regardless of income levels, should have equal access to these life-saving vaccines.”The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines during 2021 will be the fastest and largest global deployment of novel vaccines in history. The COVAX Facility aims, by the end of 2021, to deliver at least 2 billion doses of safe, effective and quality-assured vaccines to all participating countries, including at least 1.3 billion doses to the 92 AMC-eligible countries and economies, at the same time as wealthier nations.***ABOUT the COVAX FacilityThe Gavi-administered COVAX Facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers.  ABOUT WHOThe World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from 149 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing. For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice, visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest,  Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch  ABOUT Gavi, the Vaccine AllianceGavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation and reaching the unvaccinated children still being left behind, employing innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here. ABOUT CHUBBChubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London, Paris and other locations, and employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at: www.chubb.com . ABOUT ESIS, A CHUBB COMPANYESIS, Inc. provides claim and risk management services to a wide variety of commercial clients. Our innovative best-in-class approach to program design, integration, and achievement of results aligns with the needs and expectations of our clients’ unique risk management needs. With more than 66 years of experience and offerings in both the U.S. and globally, ESIS provides one of the industry’s broadest selections of risk management solutions covering both pre- and post-loss services.  

  • WHO Director-General’s statement on Tanzania and COVID-19
    on 20th February 2021 at 8:02 pm

    We extend our condolences to our Tanzanian sisters and brothers on the recent passing of a senior Tanzanian leader as well as the government’s Chief Secretary.In late January, I joined Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Director for the African Region, in urging Tanzania to scale public health measures against COVID-19 and to prepare for vaccination. I also encouraged the sharing of data in light of reports of COVID-19 cases among travellers.Since then I have spoken with several authorities in Tanzania but WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic.This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination.A number of Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond have tested positive for COVID-19. This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond.COVID-19 is a serious disease that can cause severe illness and even death. National authorities everywhere must do all they can to protect people and save lives and WHO stands ready to support them in the response against this deadly virus.  

  • G7 leaders commit US$ 4.3 billion to finance global equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines in 2021
    on 19th February 2021 at 7:06 pm

    The ACT Accelerator partnership welcomes over US$ 4.3 billion of new investments from the USA, Germany, the European Commission, Japan, and Canada to fund the development and equitable rollout of the tests, treatments and vaccines needed to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.Today’s commitments bring the amount committed to date to US$ 10.3 billion, leaving a funding gap of US$ 22.9 billion to fully fund the ACT Accelerator’s work in 2021. The UK’s commitment to share vaccine surplus with developing countries is also welcomed and joins similar commitments made by Canada, France, Norway and the European Union. Global Health leaders reiterated, however, that without further significant financial commitments, access to COVID-19 tools would be delayed, risking further mutations and prolonging the pandemic everywhere.  Commitments made at today’s Virtual G7 leaders meeting hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and at the Munich Security Conference later in the day, signaled significant progress in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic with an important underscoring of the need for global equity in access to test, treatments, and vaccines. Leaders recognised that no country can be safe until every country is safe and collectively committed over US $4.3 billion to the ACT Accelerator partnership to develop and distribute effective tests, treatments, and vaccines around the world.Contributions were made up as follows:The USA committed initial $2 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment and a further $2 billion through 2021 and 2022, of which the first $500 million will be made available when existing donor pledges are fulfilled and initial doses are delivered to AMC countries.Germany committed US$ 1.8 billion[i] with contributions to all pillars and partners of the ACT Accelerator across tests, treatments, vaccines, and health systems strengthening. The European Commission committed US$ 363 million[ii] for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Japan committed US$ 79 million for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment and UNITAID.Canada committed US$ 59 million to the ACT Accelerator.[iii]In addition, the European Investment Bank is providing a further US$ 242 million[iv] in loan guarantees which will help the ACT Accelerator partnership to frontload future payments to speed up the response.The UK’s commitment to join Canada, France, Norway and the European Union in sharing its additional vaccine doses with developing countries is a vital step to increase volume of vaccines available worldwide and support rapid reduction of virus transmission amongst some of the world’s most vulnerable and exposed populations.The ACT Accelerator initial needs for 2020-2021 were US $38.1 billion. Prior to today, an unprecedented mobilization of sovereign donors, private sectors, philanthropic and multilateral contributors had already committed  US $ 6 billion. Considering those pledges, and costs adjustments, today’s new contributions bring the total committed to the ACT Accelerator partnership to US$ 10.3 billion and reduce the funding gap to US $22.9 billion. The next few weeks will be critical for the global COVID-19 response. Further commitments are needed to fully fund the work of the ACT Accelerator and enable the delivery of more than 2 billion doses of vaccine; medical oxygen and millions of treatment doses including dexamethasone and new products, as and when they become available; and over 900 million diagnostic tests including high-quality, lower-cost molecular tests, antigen detection RDTs (Ag-RDTs) and self-tests. This work will also support the urgent need for rapid R&D, product evaluation, and regulatory pathways for new and modified tests, treatments and vaccines to meet the needs of global response programmes and the threat of new and emerging variants. Global health leaders responded to today’s announcements: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “I thank the US, Germany, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, Japan, and Canada for their significant funding commitments. Today’s news shows us solidarity prevails; we can turn a corner on this pandemic by funding the only global solution to end it. History will judge us collectively and I welcome the words of support from today’s G7 Leaders and the Munich Security Council for again highlighting to the world that we have to solve this together.”Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said: “This support for the Gavi COVAX AMC shows great commitment to equitable, global access to COVID-19 vaccines and is a major boost to our efforts to end the acute phase of the pandemic. We thank G7 countries, and particularly Germany and the United States, as well as the EU, for this strong leadership in the fields of global health and global health security.”  Dr Catharina Boehme, CEO of FIND, said: “Today’s new commitment is gladly welcomed. Over a year into the pandemic, inequality in testing remains across the globe, meaning that many countries are still flying blind in their pandemic response even as new variants emerge. For every test conducted in Africa, Europe is conducting 33. The pandemic will not be defeated until every country can access the tests, treatments and vaccines it needs to keep everyone safe.”Peter Sands, Executive Director of Global Fund, said: “The Global Fund welcomes these significant contributions to the ACT-Accelerator.  As the virus evolves, it is important to ensure equitable access to tests, treatments, vaccines and PPE to defeat COVID-19 and save lives. Galvanizing a bolder, faster  and more unified response should be a top priority for everyone. The longer COVID-19 is left unchecked in some parts of the world, the more the risk of new variants and the greater the knock-on impact on economies and other deadly diseases. We must act together now.”Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid, said: “Unitaid welcomes such strong commitment to the vital work of the ACT-Accelerator. Treatments for COVID-19 are needed to save lives and provide a second line of defense against a mutating virus. This investment will aid our work to ensure promising treatments reach people everywhere.”Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said: “We are entering a new and more complex phase of the pandemic. The emergence of novel variants that threaten to impact the safe and effective vaccines we have developed means that now, more than ever, we are in a race against this virus. It is paramount that we take this opportunity to not only push forward with our plan to end the acute phase of this devastating crisis, but also continue to focus on ensuring we invest in R&D, work for globally fair distribution, and build on our scientific achievements to meet the continued challenge of this pandemic. We welcome the G7’s leadership and focus on advancing COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment, in addition to their commitments to increase manufacturing capacity and share genomic sequencing information so that we can accelerate our work and continue to provide the tools the world so urgently needs. There is a moment of opportunity that we must now seize to collaborate in our efforts to stop the devastation of this pandemic.  Notes to Editors The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT Accelerator, is the proven, up-and-running global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.The ACT Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it. The ACT Accelerator comprises four pillars: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health system strengthening.The diagnostics pillar co-convened by the Global Fund and FIND is focused on bringing to market 2–3 high-quality rapid tests, training 10,000 healthcare professionals across 50 countries and establishing testing for 500 million people in Low and Middle-Income countries by mid-2021.The therapeutics pillar is co-convened by Unitaid and Wellcome. Therapeutics can play a role in all stages of COVID-19 disease: to prevent infection; suppress symptoms and spread of infection to others; treat or prevent symptoms; as a life-saving treatment for severe symptoms; and as a treatment that can speed up recovery. The aim in the next 12 months is to develop, manufacture and distribute millions of treatment doses, helping COVID-19 sufferers to recover from the disease. The vaccines pillar, co-convened by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, is speeding up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries. At the same time, it is supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed by the end of 2021.The health systems connector pillar, led by the World Bank, the Global Fund and the World Health Organization, is working to ensure that these tools can reach the people who need them.Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation, hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Since April 2020, the ACT Accelerator has supported the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease. With significant advances in research and development by academia, private sector, multilateral organizations and government initiatives, the ACT Accelerator has advanced our understanding of what works to fight the disease. It has transformed our ability to tackle COVID-19 on a global scale: vaccines are poised to roll-out worldwide, low-cost high-performing antigen rapid diagnostic tests can now detect transmission anywhere, affordable therapy for severe disease can save lives in any setting, and health systems are being prepared for the roll out of tools. Find out more: https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator[i] €1.5 billion[ii] €300 million[iii] Canadian $75 million[iv] €200 million

  • World Waking Up To Vaccine Equity
    on 19th February 2021 at 1:44 pm

    At the halfway point in the World Health Organization and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ 100-day challenge, a movement of people and organizations is now uniting together under the banner of vaccine equity. WHO welcomes the new commitments made by France, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America to COVAX and equitable allocation of vaccines. Backed by 190 countries and economies, COVAX is the global mechanism best positioned to deliver vaccines to the world and end the COVID-19 pandemic.“There is a growing movement behind vaccine equity and I welcome that world leaders are stepping up to the challenge by making new commitments to effectively end this pandemic by sharing doses and increasing funds to COVAX,” said Dr Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “This can’t be business as usual and there is an urgent need for countries to share doses and technology, scale up manufacturing and ensure that there is a sustainable supply of vaccines so that everyone, everywhere can receive a vaccine.”Close to 7000 people and hundreds of organizations have already signed on to a vaccine equity declaration that directly calls on governments and manufacturers to speed up regulatory processes, boost manufacturing by sharing know-how and technology, and ensure that doses are shared equitably. There is a specific call to start with all health and care workers, who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic for more than a year. Heads of state and sports stars like Romain Grosjean; international agencies including UNICEF, UN Development Programme, UN Women and the World Food Programme; sporting organizations like the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby and FIFA; networks focused on faith, gender and youth, and civil society groups like the Elders, Global Health Council, Nursing Now, Pandemic Action Network, UHC2030 and Women in Global Health,*– these and many more have signed on to the broad based movement, which recognizes the moral, economic and global security imperative of equitable vaccine distribution.Dr Keith C Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and Chairman of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) said, “Today, thankfully we are at that place where we now have tested and proven vaccines. A brightening light is shining on our way towards a more successful response to the still marauding virus.”The movement for vaccine equity is growing, and to prevent virus variants from undermining our health technologies and hampering an already sluggish global economic recovery, it is critical that leaders continue to step up to ensure that we end this pandemic as quickly as possible. Individuals and organizations everywhere are encouraged to join in this crucial effort. Note to editors: Please find the declaration at who.int/vaccinequity*A list of declaration supporters will be added to the WHO website and updated regularly.   

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  • Could Poor Oral Hygiene Increase the Risk of COVID-19 Infection?
    by Victoria Sampson, BDS on 15th April 2021 at 8:56 am

    For years, the dental profession has been aware of the direct connection between the mouth and the body, with many believing that the mouth is the mirror to one’s health. This connection is mutual; when there is poor systemic health, the mouth often reacts with inflammation, xerostomia, periodontal disease and increased decay. When we take… The post Could Poor Oral Hygiene Increase the Risk of COVID-19 Infection? appeared first on Ask the Dentist.

  • Are Permanent Retainers the Right Choice for You?
    by Mark Burhenne, DDS on 21st March 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Retainers are appliances you should wear once you remove your braces. They are either permanent or removable.  A permanent or fixed retainer is, basically, a piece of metal wire attached to the inner side of your teeth. The metal wire is glued to your teeth to hold them in place so that they don’t move… The post Are Permanent Retainers the Right Choice for You? appeared first on Ask the Dentist.

  • Hydroxyapatite Vs. Fluoride: How Do They Compare?
    by Mark Burhenne, DDS on 14th March 2021 at 7:45 pm

    Dentists have recommended fluoride toothpaste for stronger cavity-resistant teeth for decades. It is still considered the “gold standard” in dental schools, despite its safety concerns. But there’s a new ingredient in town proven to be just as effective as fluoride and completely non-toxic. It’s called hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite toothpaste has replaced fluoride toothpaste as what I… The post Hydroxyapatite Vs. Fluoride: How Do They Compare? appeared first on Ask the Dentist.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine: My Take as a “Holistic” Healthcare Practitioner
    by Mark Burhenne, DDS on 3rd March 2021 at 2:11 pm

    View this post on Instagram A post shared by Dr. Mark Burhenne (@askthedentist) “How could you advocate for getting the vaccine? I thought you were a holistic dentist.” I’m getting this question a lot, and the answer is this…⁣⁣I’m a healthcare worker. When you’re a healthcare worker, you have to think of your patients, especially… The post COVID-19 Vaccine: My Take as a “Holistic” Healthcare Practitioner appeared first on Ask the Dentist.

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