June 18, 2021

Vietnam tightens sanitary measures and variants change names

If the pandemic continues to decelerate in Europe, concern is mounting in Asia. In Vietnam, where a new variant of the Covid-19 virus, described as a combination of the Indian and British variants by the authorities, was discovered last week, the authorities decided to take further restrictive measures in Saigon, the largest city ​​of the country.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed at least 3,543,125 worldwide since the World Health Organization (WHO) office in China reported the onset of the disease in late December 2019, according to a assessment established by Agence France-Presse from official sources on Monday.

After the United States (594,431 dead), the countries with the highest number of deaths are Brazil (461,931), India (329,100) and Mexico (223,507). On Monday, Peru reassessed the number of people who died from Covid-19 on its soil, increasing it from 69,000 to 180,000, on the recommendations of a technical council.

A woman behind a sign demanding to stand 2 meters from each other on May 31, 2021, in Hanoi.  Flights from abroad have been suspended in the Vietnamese capital.

Subject to an upsurge in the virus caused in particular by a hybrid variant, Vietnam is taking drastic measures. Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in the country, which had already seen some businesses close their doors last week, has been subject since Monday, May 31 to a new turn of the screw with the closure of cultural and sporting venues as well as ‘ban on any non-essential activity. Total containment is also applied in the most affected areas of the city.

Meanwhile, the suspension of international flight arrivals, decided last week at Tan Son Nathsera airport, will be extended until June 14, according to the civil aviation administration. It was to be lifted on June 4. The measure is also extended to Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport from Tuesday, civil aviation announced on Monday.

  • Greek letters to name the variants

Between the English variant or B.1.1.7, its real name, the WHO has decided: it will ultimately be alpha. The World Health Organization has decided to name the variants with Greek letters. The objective is twofold: to have names “Easy to pronounce and remember” and prevent the general public and the media from using names “Stigmatizing and discriminatory”, referring to where the first cases of the variant were detected, the organization said in a statement.

Read also More contagious, more virulent, more resistant to the vaccine: what we know about the main variants of SARS-CoV-2

Scientific names will continue to exist because they provide useful data to experts, but WHO will no longer use them in its daily communication. And the organization strongly encourages national authorities, the media and others to adopt the new names.

In addition to the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, renamed alpha, B.1.351, discovered for the first time in South Africa, becomes beta, and the P.1 variant, detected in Brazil, gamma. The WHO has given two different names to the distinct sublines of the B.1.617 variant, which ravaged India and spread to dozens of countries: B.1.617.2 thus becomes delta, and B.1.617. 1 becomes kappa.

  • Denmark wants to reconnect with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

The Danish government on Monday asked the country’s health authority to reconsider its abandonment of the anti-Covid vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, after seeing the goal of full vaccination slip by September. The authority, the choice of which is binding on the government, had first suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-April, due to very rare but serious blood side effects. A similar decision was taken in early May for Johnson & Johnson, marketed in Europe under the Janssen brand.

  • Burkina Faso receives its first doses

Burkina Faso received some 115,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines against Covid-19 on Sunday evening funded by the Covax device. They will allow this poor West African country to start a first phase of vaccination on June 2. Burkina, which has 13,430 cases of coronavirus for 166 deaths, was one of the last West African countries not to have launched its vaccination campaign against the epidemic.

Read also In Burkina Faso, first delivery of 115,000 doses of vaccines against Covid-19
  • Venezuela expects 5 million doses in early July, says Nicolas Maduro

A woman receives a dose of the Sputnik V vaccine in Caracas, Venezuela, May 29, 2021.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was waiting for the arrival in July of 5 million vaccines against Covid-19 via the Covax system. The country has been hit hard by a second wave of the epidemic since March.

“The Covax system has promised us more than 5 million doses of vaccines for the month of July”Maduro said Sunday evening during an intervention on public television, adding that his country had requested doses from the Johnson & Johnson laboratory. Power and opposition have been waging a war of declarations on the subject of vaccines for weeks.

Venezuela launched a first vaccination campaign at the end of February with the Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines. This concerned medical staff, authorities, security forces and teachers. On Saturday, the authorities kicked off a second vaccination campaign targeting the elderly as a priority.

Le Monde with AFP and AP