While Democrats Deliver, Republicans Have Another Bad Week With No One To Blame But Themselves

30 Jul

The contrast between Democrats and Republicans could not be more clear this week. On one hand, the economy has made an incredible comeback thanks to President Biden and Democrats’ leadership, House Democrats led efforts to get accountability for January 6, and President Biden delivered on his promise of a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Meanwhile, Republicans literally wandered the halls of Congress with their performative anti-mask stunts, repeatedly insulted police officers who protected them, and, again, voted against funding the police.

Democrats’ Week In Review: 

  • Washington Post: U.S. economy grew annual 6.5 percent between April and June, marking full recovery from the pandemic
  • New York Times: Pandemic Aid Programs Spur a Record Drop in Poverty
  • Reuters: U.S. consumer confidence at 17-month high; business spending on equipment strong
  • MarketWatch: Consumers boost spending in June and spearhead U.S. economic recovery
  • New York Times: How Biden Got the Infrastructure Deal Trump Couldn’t

Republicans’ Week In Review: 

  • Associated Press: Capitol police testimony blunts GOP’s law-and-order message
  • Esquire: Republican Congressman Chip Roy Threw a DEFCON-1 Tantrum About the House Mask Mandate
  • Washington Post: Republicans voice opposition to Jan. 6 investigation as police officers call for accountability
  • Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr: “Just now 205-of-206 House republicans (99.5%) voted against funding the Capitol Police.”
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IN THE STATES: As President Biden and Democrats Secure Bipartisan Deal, State Parties Highlight Need for Infrastructure Investments in Their Communities

30 Jul

This week, President Biden and Democrats secured a deal on the details of a once-in-generation investment in our infrastructure, which the Senate is now taking up for consideration. This bipartisan package includes investments that both parties have long agreed are necessary: improving our roads and bridges, getting rid of lead pipes and providing clean drinking water, ensuring every American has access to reliable high-speed Internet, and many other important investments. It’s no wonder this deal has broad public support, and it’s why labor leadersbusiness leaders, and local elected officials from across the country agree that now is the time to pass President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal. 

Take a look at the work Democrats are doing across the country to urge Congress to pass this deal: 

And thanks to President Biden and Democrats, our economy is getting back on track. Jobless claims have dropped, and new data shows that our economy has made a full recovery from the pandemic, posting one of the strongest quarters of economic growth in decades. But it doesn’t stop there — thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the share of Americans in poverty is expected to fall to the lowest level on record. This finding shows just how important the expanded Child Tax Credit payments going out to most American families are — and why we must extend it for years and years to come. See below for how this middle class tax cut is helping families across the country:

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New consortium working to boost vaccine production in South Africa

30 Jul

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and the World Health Organization (WHO),  Afrigen Biologics (PTY) Limited, the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa  (Biovac), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have signed a letter of intent to address the global imbalance of manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines.

This letter of intent brings together partners to establish the South African mRNA technology transfer hub that will allow for greater and more diversified vaccines manufacturing capability, strengthen African regional health security and respond more equitably to the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics. 

Further to WHO's announcement in June of the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa, this letter of intent sets out the terms of the collaboration and responsibilities between our organisations. Through a shared responsibility approach, the organisations will ensure the most suitable platform technologies are selected for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, that technology transfer is in place and that funding is secured for the hub, clinical studies and manufacturing support. It will also ensure that, crucially, this platform for innovation in vaccines is sustainable, inclusive, and will lead to vaccine security for Africa in the future.  

“Inequitable manufacturing and distribution of vaccines is behind the wave of death, which is now sweeping across many low- and middle-income countries that have been starved of vaccine supply,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization. “Building vaccine manufacturing capacity in South Africa is the first step in a broader effort to boost local production to address health emergencies and strengthen regional health security.” 

The new collaboration brings together key actors from COVAX partners, industry, government, academia, funding agencies, WHO AFRO, which was represented by Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti and the Africa CDC to collectively provide an enabling environment for the development of the first regional mRNA vaccine manufacturing production facility in Africa.

"At the Medicines Patent Pool, we look forward to offering our intellectual property expertise and experience, and to working closely with WHO and partners", said Charles Gore, Executive Director, MPP. "Within the consortium, MPP will provide appropriate intellectual property analysis, define and negotiate terms and conditions of the agreements, provide alliance management and make use of our established robust selection process to allow further technology recipients to benefit."

Afrigen is a biotechnology company incorporated in South Africa, which established the first adjuvant formulation laboratory in Africa and has a pipeline of vaccines in development. Afrigen has built strong research and development partnerships with leading Universities in South Africa and across Africa.

“We have recently completed a facility suitable for the establishment of a fully integrated mRNA pilot scale production, formulation and fill finish platform,” said Prof Petro Terblanche, Managing Director of Afrigen. “Our platform and facilities are well positioned to deliver on the hub’s objectives, and  Afrigen will focus on ensuring the technical, scientific, quality control and quality assurance and regulatory teams so as to implement the mRNA Hub for Africa.”

Biovac is a South African specialist vaccines company that was established to revive local human vaccine production in Southern Africa. Alongside the development of bacterial vaccine technologies, the company has built modern facilities and secured high profile technology transfers from international vaccine companies.

“Biovac sources and supplies a comprehensive range of vaccines required by the South African government and its neighbouring countries including childhood disease vaccines among others, and more recently COVID-19 vaccines,” said Morena Makhoana, Chief Executive Officer of Biovac. “It is a long-held desire of Biovac to ensure that the full value chain of vaccines is developed in our continent and our aim is to assemble state of the art manufacturing capacity and help ensure the transfer of mRNA technology and know-how as quickly as possible.”

South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has decades of experience in managing large research consortia and local and international funding programs, in both the research and innovation domains. The SAMRC is leading South Africa’s research and innovation response to COVID-19.  

“Throughout the pandemic, the South African Medical Research Council has been actively funding, conducting and facilitating research and development,” said Dr Michelle Mulder, Executive Director Grants, Innovation and Product Development (GIPD) of the SAMRC. “As part of this new collaboration our domain will be facilitating product and clinical development so that we can bring new products to market, allowing maximum participation of African countries in developing and testing context appropriate products.”

Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.

“Over the last few weeks there is a worrying increase in the number of cases across Africa and COVID-19 variants are causing a shocking wave of COVID-19 hospitalisation and death,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC. “Our objective is to ensure Africa has timely access to vaccines to protect public health security, by establishing a sustainable vaccine development and manufacturing ecosystem in Africa. As well as public health social measures, it is critical the world shares vaccine technologies now with African countries while also building up the manufacturing capacity across the region to help battle back against COVID-19 and also to leave a legacy for future pandemics.”

Harassment of Foreign Journalists in the People’s Republic of China

30 Jul

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

The United States is deeply concerned with the increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of U.S. and other foreign journalists in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including foreign journalists covering the devastation and loss of life caused by recent floods in Henan. The U.S. government reiterates the condolences of the American people to all those affected.

The PRC government claims to welcome foreign media and support their work, but its actions tell a different story. Its harsh rhetoric, promoted through official state media, toward any news it perceives to be critical of PRC policies, has provoked negative public sentiment leading to tense, in-person confrontations and harassment, including online verbal abuse and death threats of journalists simply doing their jobs. Foreign journalists are increasingly refused visas to enter or remain in the PRC, severely limiting the quantity and quality of independent reporting on important issues. We call on the PRC to act as a responsible nation hoping to welcome foreign media and the world for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In her July 26 meetings with PRC officials in Tianjin, Deputy Secretary Sherman specifically raised the importance of media access, freedom from harassment, and press freedom. We call on PRC officials to ensure that journalists remain safe and able to report freely.

Public Schedule – July 30, 2021

30 Jul

Office of the Spokesperson

                                           ***THE DAILY PUBLIC SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE***

SECRETARY ANTONY J. BLINKEN
Secretary Blinken attends meetings and briefings, from the Department of State. 

DEPUTY SECRETARY WENDY R. SHERMAN
Deputy Secretary Sherman attends meetings and briefings, from the Department of State.

DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCES BRIAN P. MCKEON
Deputy Secretary McKeon attends meetings and briefings, from the Department of State.

UNDER SECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS VICTORIA J. NULAND
Under Secretary Nuland attends meetings and briefings, from the Department of State.

BRIEFING SCHEDULE
2:00 p.m. Principal Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter holds a telephonic press briefing.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

Highlighting Initiatives for Social Cohesion in Nigeria, Deputy Secretary-General Stresses Women’s Role as Peacebuilders, Men’s Leadership to Redefine Masculinity

30 Jul

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to Osun State University panel on “Social cohesion, equity and sustainability:  Time for unity in action”, in Nigeria on 14 July:

Greater Partnership Key to Prevent Plight of Vulnerable Women, Children from Worsening Amid COVID-19, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Economic and Social Council Event

30 Jul

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to a virtual side event of the Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum on “Equity in the era of COVID-19 and the Sustainable Development Goals:  Improving Accountability for the Health and Rights of Vulnerable Women, Children and Adolescents”, on 13 July: