Global GoalsCast podcast

The Covid Gamble that came up short

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The rich world placed a big bet on vaccines. But the flaw in that gamble became clear as a new variant spreads. The vaccine was never enough to stop the pandemic, Edie Lush points out in this episode, even if the world had enough vaccine. Most of the world did not have enough vaccine and the new variant, Omicron, mutated and began to spread. Wealthy countries, which had kept most of the vaccine for themselves, are now trying to block this variant by blocking travel from countries who first identified it, Botswana, South Africa and neighboring countries in southern Africa. “People are truly livid,” Professor Magen Mhaka Mutepfa of the University of Botswana reports. Africans feel they are being ostracized by the rich world for doing the right thing: reporting the new variant the moment they identified it. Jane Badham, a health consultant, offers a heart rending report of sorrow from Johannesburg. “African governments and people will need all the solidarity of everybody,” says Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization, “The last thing we want is people saying, ‘oh, we'll cancel flights.’ What's it do? What does it do?... I am so fixated on the importance of solidarity and so fixated on the unfairness of single-handed, high-handed responses. And particularly high handed responses from rich countries who've been hoovering up the vaccine and who've been making it difficult for poor countries to cope. No, we actually need to be able to count on each other in dealing with this pandemic. It’s got months, and years to run. So let's just be civil to each other.” Travel lockdowns may buy some time. But the crucial defenses are, as they have been from the beginning, masks, distancing, testing and isolating of those potentially infected. Peter Hebard, a systems engineer, offers advice on selecting effective masks. You can also learn more from the WHO here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks Edie Lush says empathy is crucial to an effective and appropriate global response. “We have to hold the consequences of what we do in mind,” she said, urging the developed world to increase vaccine and medical supplies to southern Africa as well as economic aid to ease the impact of travel bans.

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    The Covid Gamble that came up short

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    The rich world placed a big bet on vaccines. But the flaw in that gamble became clear as a new variant spreads. The vaccine was never enough to stop the pandemic, Edie Lush points out in this episode, even if the world had enough vaccine. Most of the world did not have enough vaccine and the new variant, Omicron, mutated and began to spread. Wealthy countries, which had kept most of the vaccine for themselves, are now trying to block this variant by blocking travel from countries who first identified it, Botswana, South Africa and neighboring countries in southern Africa. “People are truly livid,” Professor Magen Mhaka Mutepfa of the University of Botswana reports. Africans feel they are being ostracized by the rich world for doing the right thing: reporting the new variant the moment they identified it. Jane Badham, a health consultant, offers a heart rending report of sorrow from Johannesburg. “African governments and people will need all the solidarity of everybody,” says Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization, “The last thing we want is people saying, ‘oh, we'll cancel flights.’ What's it do? What does it do?... I am so fixated on the importance of solidarity and so fixated on the unfairness of single-handed, high-handed responses. And particularly high handed responses from rich countries who've been hoovering up the vaccine and who've been making it difficult for poor countries to cope. No, we actually need to be able to count on each other in dealing with this pandemic. It’s got months, and years to run. So let's just be civil to each other.” Travel lockdowns may buy some time. But the crucial defenses are, as they have been from the beginning, masks, distancing, testing and isolating of those potentially infected. Peter Hebard, a systems engineer, offers advice on selecting effective masks. You can also learn more from the WHO here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks Edie Lush says empathy is crucial to an effective and appropriate global response. “We have to hold the consequences of what we do in mind,” she said, urging the developed world to increase vaccine and medical supplies to southern Africa as well as economic aid to ease the impact of travel bans.
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    Everyone seemed disappointed with the Glasgow climate summit. But maybe it was not as bad as it looked? That is the provocative insight of Isabel Hilton, an expert on both climate action and on one of the pivotal countries, China. Yes, it was “unhelpful,” as she put it, that India, with China’s backing, changed the wording of the final communique to promise a “phase down” rather than a “phase out” of coal. But this language may have reflected the need to manage domestic politics while actually making progress. “I don't think coal is safe at all after Glasgow,” Hilton told co-host Edie Lush. More generally, Edie and co-host Claudia Romo Edelman explore a fascinating reversal. Where in the past political leaders overpromised and under delivered on climate action, Glasgow may mark a moment when what is actually happening exceeds what politicians feel able to talk about as they worry about nationalist and anti-climate forces. Not everyone, of course, shares this hopeful outlook. Edie describes conversations she had with several experts who expand on the widely held view that action on climate simply is moving too slowly to cap rising temperatures at 1.5 centigrade. The mayor of Dhaka North, Atiqul Islam, described how 1500 climate migrants were arriving in Dhaka every day as sea level rises in Bangladesh. Walter Roban, deputy premier and Home Minister of Bermuda, explained his vision to create a blue economy in the island nation and why help would be needed from the rich world.   Anne Cairns, from our sponsor Mastercard, and Jude Kelly, from the Women of the World Foundation, describe the importance of gender equity in solving the climate emergency. “Climate change is a man-made problem and needs a female solution,” Kelly says.
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    The world has had it with lockdowns at just the wrong moment. Covid is spreading faster than ever even as political leaders back off restrictions designed to curb it.  Dr. David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the World Health Organization on Covid-19, warns that the next six months will be rough. “We are in the middle of a really difficult pandemic and we are nowhere near the end of it,” he said. Vaccines alone cannot stop the pandemic. There is not enough supply and, in any case, the vaccines are better at preventing severe illness than at stopping transmission of the virus. He warns that measures of hospitalization and death miss the serious “Long Covid” afflicting many younger patients. Dr. Nabarro discusses effective public health measures with public health experts in Botswana and Canada.  This episode is sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Leaders in Innovation Fellowships. Dr. Jo-Ann Passmore of the University of Capetown Medical School describes her innovation, GIFT, which measures inflammation as a simple test for sexually transmitted diseases.
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    The world is exhausted with this pandemic. Yet, the virus perseveres, mutating in ways that have made it far more contagious. This has created a dangerous situation. Many communities want restrictions lifted, even as the need to curb the virus has never been greater. David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization for Covid-19, explains in this episode that it is vital to reduce the presence of the virus now before it mutates further to evade vaccines. Colleagues have told him that the Delta Variant could be within two mutations of being able to do that, Nabarro reports.  The Delta Variant is spreading rapidly in Africa, where very few people have yet to be vaccinated, as well as among the unvaccinated even in rich countries with relatively high levels of vaccination.  Dr. Lucky Aziken, an optometrist in Nigeria, is one of many health providers working to hold back the spread. He describes how he organized safety measures for one of Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations, inmates in the country’s 240 prisons. Co-host Claudia Romo Edelman talks with Dr. Nabarro about how she lost her own mother to Covid-19 and how each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the virus. While we cannot vaccinate our way out of the crisis, greater vaccine supply must be part of the long term solution. Co-host Edie Lush speaks with the CEO of the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, Adar C. Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India during the India Global Forum. He urges a global plan to have vaccine manufacturing capacity standing by in the next pandemic.   Also appearing in this episode are South African nutritionist Jane Badham and Holly Wheeler, a global health advocate.

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