DNC WAR ROOM RELEASES NEW TELEVISION AD: “Exploding”

30 Jun

The DNC War Room today released a television ad, “Exploding,” to highlight to critical swing voters how coronavirus is exploding again across the country because of President Trump.

The Trump campaign is running ads about being tough on China, but Trump’s failure to promptly address coronavirus, lest he upset China, is maybe the most disastrous example of a president getting played by a foreign country, leading to a total catastrophe at home.

“More than 125,000 deaths, 20 million jobs lost, and the worst recession in generations. It didn’t have to be this bad. Trump ignored warnings, downplayed the crisis, and put his joke of a trade deal ahead of the American people. Now we’re paying the price,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “He put himself and his political fortunes first, and the health and well-being of the American people last.”

WATCH HERE:

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WHO urges countries to expand access to rapid molecular tests for the detection of TB and drug-resistant TB

30 Jun

The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging countries to expand access to rapid molecular tests for the detection of TB and drug-resistant TB in updated consolidated guidelines, released today. The guidelines are accompanied by an operational handbook to facilitate rapid implementation and roll out of rapid molecular tests by national TB programmes, ministries of health and technical partners.

“The use of rapid molecular assays as the initial test to diagnose TB is recommended instead of sputum smear microscopy as they have high diagnostic accuracy and will lead to major improvements in the early detection of TB and drug-resistant TB,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme.  “We now need to urgently ensure universal access to these rapid molecular tests. This will impact positively on reducing transmission and enabling faster access to accurate life-saving treatment that will lead to better outcomes for those affected.”

The consolidated guidelines and the associated operational handbook recommend key updates of the approaches to diagnose TB including:

  • The use of Xpert MTB/RIF assay, Xpert Ultra assay and Truenat assay as the initial test to diagnose pulmonary TB and to detect rifampicin resistance.  This replaces smear microscopy and culture.
  • The use of Xpert MTB/RIF assay and Xpert Ultra assay for improved diagnosis of TB and rifampicin resistance in children, in specific specimens such as sputum, stool, nasopharyngeal and gastric specimens
  • The use of Xpert MTB/RIF assay and Xpert Ultra assay for improved diagnosis of TB and rifampicin resistance in patients with broad range of extrapulmonary TB.

The Xpert MTB Rif assay has been used worldwide since 2010, while the Xpert Ultra assay and Truenat assay are new technologies.

The above updates were signaled in January 2020 through a Rapid Communication from WHO in advance of the publication of the updated guidelines. The purpose was to help national TB programmes and other stakeholders plan and prepare in advance for the rapid transition to new diagnostic tools at country level.

Globally, diagnosis of TB and drug-resistant TB remains a challenge with a third of people with TB and two-thirds of people with drug-resistant TB not being detected. Accelerated efforts to diagnose TB and drug-resistance are essential to end the global TB epidemic and achieve the targets of the political declaration of the UN high-level meeting, the WHO End TB Strategy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, universal health coverage and the triple billion targets of WHO’s General Programme of Work.

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Public call for data on diagnostic accuracy on nucleic acid amplification tests to detect TB and resistance to selected anti-TB agents

30 Jun

Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) are promising technologies for the rapid and accurate detection of TB and resistance to selected anti-TB agents. In December 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) will convene a Guidelines Development Group (GDG) meeting to update its diagnostic guidelines on the use of NAATs to detect TB and resistance to selected anti-TB agents. Ahead of this meeting, WHO will commission reviews of relevant evidence on diagnostic accuracy for several NAAT assays.

The following NAAT assays or classes of NAAT assays will be discussed by the GDG:

Centralized assays that present end-to-end solutions for detection of TB and resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid (cDST: Index test 1);

Cartridge-based technology for isoniazid and second-line drug resistance detection (XDR cartridge: Index test 2);

Hybridization-based technology for pyrazinamide resistance detection (PZA LPA: Index test 3).

To enable this process, WHO is issuing a public call for data, appealing to industry, researchers, national TB programmes and other agencies to provide suitable evidence for the performance of these technologies. The obtained data will be essential to facilitate the process of WHO policy updates.

Please send relevant data by 1st August 2020, to ldr.policies@who.int. For more information on the parameters of the datasets, variables, and the process see below:

Annex 1: Data requirements

Index test 1: Centralized assays that present end-to-end solutions for detection of TB and resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid (cDST platforms).

Desirable characteristics of the test: (a) Sample preparation workflow included; (b) Automated DNA extraction; (c) Automated PCR preparation; (d) Automated result interpretation; (c) Capacity per run: ≥24 tests; (d) Time from sample to full MDR-TB diagnosis: <12 hours; (e) Minimal desirable drug resistance detection: at least to INH and RIF.

Study type: Clinical evaluation studies to confirm diagnostic performance on clinical samples.

Study population: Random sample of unselected patients with signs and symptoms of TB, requiring evaluation for TB and/or resistance to isoniazid and rifampicin in sites of intended use.

Reference standard: At a minimum, result of a single sputum culture and phenotypic DST, wherever applicable (liquid or solid, with speciation) should be included for each result of Index test 1. The use of a genotypic sequencing results where available will have an added value to confirm the presence of mutations in addition to phenotypic DST results.

Index test 2: Cartridge-based technology for isoniazid and second-line drug resistance detection (XDR cartridge);

Desirable characteristics of the test: (a) Automated real-time PCR; (b) Automated result interpretation; (b) Capacity per run: ≥ 4 tests; (c) Time test results: <4 hours; (d) Minimal desirable drug resistance detection: at least to INH and FQ.

Study type: (a) Analytical validation studies measuring accuracy, precision, and reproducibility of the test in contrived specimens or panels, covering all key mutations to isoniazid and second-line drugs. (b) Clinical evaluation studies to confirm diagnostic performance on clinical samples.

Study population: Patients with detected TB, requiring evaluation for resistance to isoniazid and second-line anti-TB agents in sites of intended use.

Reference standard: At a minimum, result of a single sputum phenotypic DST (liquid or solid, with speciation) should be included for each result of Index test 2. The use of a genotypic sequencing results where available will have an added value to confirm the presence of mutations in addition to phenotypic DST results.

Index test 3: Hybridization-based technology for pyrazinamide resistance detection (PZA LPA).

Desirable characteristics of the test: (a) Automated or manual hybridization methodology; (b) Automated or manual result interpretation (c) Time from sample to test results: <24 hours; (d) Minimal desirable drug resistance detection: at least to PZA.

Study type: (a) Analytical validation studies measuring accuracy, precision, and reproducibility of the test in contrived specimens or panels, covering all key mutations to pyrazinamide; (b) Clinical evaluation studies to confirm diagnostic performance on clinical samples;

Study population: Patients with detected TB and resistance to rifampicin, requiring evaluation for resistance to pyrazinamide in sites of intended use;

Reference standard: At a minimum, result of a single sputum phenotypic DST (liquid or solid, with speciation) should be included for each result of Index test 3. The use of a genotypic sequencing results where available will have an added value to confirm the presence of mutations in addition to phenotypic DST results.

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The United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Syrian People

30 Jun

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

At today’s fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region,” hosted by the European Union, Special Representative for Syria Engagement Ambassador James Jeffrey announced more than $696 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Syria in response to the ongoing crisis caused by the Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces.  This brings the total U.S. humanitarian response to more than $11.3 billion since the start of the Syria crisis.

The United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance – both in Syria and around the world.  This assistance is a component of our National Security Strategy, which directs us to continue to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, while ensuring increased global burden-sharing, and to support displaced people close to their homes to help meet their needs until they can safely and voluntarily return home.  We appreciate the European Union’s support in hosting the conference and laud all donors who made contributions today, while encouraging others to do more.  The international community, both traditional and new donors, must remain committed to meeting the growing needs of the Syrian people, a responsibility the Assad regime has proven unwilling to uphold. Instead, it has prioritized funding its reckless and destructive military campaign, payouts to regime loyalists, and the ongoing arbitrary detention of as many as 130,000 Syrian civilians, including women and children.

Today’s announcement of additional assistance through the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is part of ongoing U.S. efforts to provide life-saving food, nutrition, shelter, education, medical care, livelihoods, safe drinking water, hygiene supplies, and improved sanitation as well as mental health and psychosocial support to assist millions of Syrians in need, including those fleeing the devastating bombings by the Assad regime and its allies in northwest Syria. It also supports much-needed counseling and other protection programs for the most highly vulnerable groups, including children, women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.  This life-saving aid will be provided through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Food Program (WFP), non-governmental organizations, and others.

The international community relies on cross-border and cross-line access to deliver humanitarian assistance, and Syrians rely on this aid to survive.  In total, 6.5 million Syrians remain displaced within Syria and an additional 5.6 million have fled to neighboring countries.  From December to March, in response to bombing by the Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces, nearly one million people in northwest Syria – more than 80 percent of whom were women and children – fled in fear for their lives.  Following an early March ceasefire, over 270,000 people returned to areas of origin in northwest Syria, but approximately 700,000 remain forcibly displaced.

The United States strongly supports UN Secretary General Guterres’ recommendation to restore cross-border access between northeast Syria and Iraq to deliver aid and medicine.  Russia and China cynically conspired to hamper the international community’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid to vulnerable areas in Syria through UN Security Council Resolution 2504, which reduced humanitarian border crossings into Syria from four to two, decreased the authorization process for six months, and stopped 40 percent of the medical aid to northeast Syria, thereby increasing an already significant gap in meeting humanitarian needs at a time of a global pandemic.

The United States supports freedom of movement for all, including forcibly displaced persons and conflict-affected Syrians, as well as the safe, voluntary, and dignified return or resettlement and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons in a process that is free from coercion.  We reaffirm our commitment to a credible and inclusive Syrian-led, UN-facilitated political solution pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

 

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WHO speaks at the European Parliament on the COVID-19 response

30 Jun

On June 25, WHO Director General Dr Tedros  Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Hand Kluge, Regional Director of WHO Europe, spoke at the European Parliament Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on the fight against COVID-19 and the global response and highlighted the leadership of the European Union during this unprecedented time. 

“The EU is in a unique position to provide global leadership in defining the “new normal” as part of the global recovery”, Dr Tedros said. 

He reminded parlamentarians, that “although the situation in Europe has improved, globally it is still getting worse” and he added that “In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO. In the last month, almost 4 million cases have been reported.”.

The pandemic is showing how essential it is for governments at all levels, including local governments, to strengthen their capacity for prevention, preparedness and response. 

But plans for the post-COVID-19 recovery, and to reduce the risk of future epidemics, must go further upstream than early detection and control of disease outbreaks – “they must also lessen our impact on the environment, to reduce risk at the source”, Dr Tedros stressed. 

In this regard, Dr Tedros welcomed the Team Europe approach and the European Union plans for a greener recovery, bringing nature back in our lives. He also praised the Global Coronavirus Response pledging campaign launched by the EU, which has so far raised €9.8 billion, and said more is needed.

Dr Kluge emphasized the complementarities and synergies between the European Programme of Work, entitled United Action for Better Health” entitled, in supporting WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW13) and the EU4Health Programme of the European Commission. 

Dr Kluge warned parliamentarians about a second wave in Europe and that countries should be prepared. In this regard, he announced that the WHO European Region has started an ACTION REVIEW, gathering lessons learned in order to develop policy options to help countries to prepare for the Autumn. 

The Regional Director underlined that “health systems based on strong primary health care are the foundation for health security and universal health coverage” and that national routine immunization programmes needs to be maintained during the pandemic, he said.

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Partners in health: Germany and France commit to increased support to WHO affirming the Organization’s crucial role in global public health

30 Jun

Dr Tedros hosts a visit from Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health, Germany and Olivier Veran, Minister for Solidarity and Health, France on Thursday 25 June 2020

Germany and France have reconfirmed their political, financial and technical support to WHO. His Excellency Olivier Véran, Minister for Solidarity and Health of the Republic of France, and His Excellency Jens Spahn Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Germany, met with WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva on 25 June to discuss the status of the global COVID-19 pandemic and measures to help countries where it continues to spread.

“WHO is honoured to welcome you both here today,” said Dr Tedros during the press conference that followed the tripartite meeting, “we offer our sincere thanks for your expression of solidarity and support. We’re getting today all the support we need, political and financial.  I would like to express my gratitude.”

Germany will lead the EU Presidency for the next six months. “Global health and managing the pandemic will be key themes,” said Minister Spahn. “This is why I came to discuss the Presidency plans and ways to support WHO during this critical time. Germany remains a strong supporter and a friend; this is why I am here today.”  Germany will contribute an additional EUR 41.4 million to WHO‘s core work, and an additional EUR 200 million towards the implementation of the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. This follows Germany’s pledge in May of EUR 110 million to WHO in support of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a Global Collaboration to Accelerate the Development, Production and Equitable Access to New COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

“The world needs interconnected crisis management, we need a strong, efficient, transparent WHO, more than ever, that is able to lead and coordinate the response in a global crisis,” added  Minister Spahn. “Germany will do its part to give WHO the political, financial and technical support that is needed.”

Minister Véran reaffirmed France’s confidence in the Organization as the leading global public health agency and its crucial role in the response to epidemic diseases and in this case the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am also here to announce increased support to the work WHO, firstly with contribution in the amount of EUR 90 million towards the establishment of the WHO Academy, a centre of excellence that brings together international cooperation in the area of training and innovation”. He also highlighted the importance of the Germany-France partnership – both Member States of WHO and of the European Union -- saying that international cooperation is needed today more than ever. On this occasion Minister Véran also confirmed President Macron’s commitment during the ACT Accelerator Marathon on 4 May to support WHO’s coordination role and to provide and additional contribution of EUR 50 million for 2020-2021.

Germany and France both have longstanding partnerships with WHO and are strong supporters of global public health. Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first world leader to invite WHO to the G20 in 2017 under Germany’s leadership, thus highlighting importance of health for all people all around the world. Germany was at the center of the development of the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All, to drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Germany and WHO have engaged together on a multi-year Collaborative Programme providing decisive support in particular to implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all people of all ages, health systems strengthening,  health emergencies preparedness, anti-microbial resistance and access to medicine.

For more than 50 years, France has hosted the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon. France has also hosted the WHO Lyon Office for Country readiness strengthening since 2001. More recently, France and WHO signed an agreement to establish the WHO Academy, also in Lyon, which will be a state-of-the-art training centre, bringing the latest lifelong learning innovations to the global health sector.

In addition to their political, financial and technical support, Germany and France have also donated masks, respirators and other medical supplies and equipment to vulnerable populations still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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On China’s Threats to Impose Visa Restrictions on U.S. Officials

30 Jun

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on Hong Kong prompted the United States to retool its relationship with the territory. The Chinese Communist Party’s threats to retaliate by restricting visas for U.S. citizens exposes once again how Beijing refuses to take responsibility for its own choices. If China wants to regain the trust of Hong Kongers and the international community, it should honor the promises it made to the Hong Kong people and to the United Kingdom in the U.N.-registered 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

 

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