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UNICEF: 12.7 million children in Africa missed vaccinations

Nearly 13 million children missed one or more vaccinations in Africa between 2019 and 2021 because of the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the continent vulnerable to even more outbreaks of disease and facing a "child survival crisis," a new report from UNICEF said Thursday.

Amid a global "backslide" in childhood immunization over those three years, which the United Nations Children's Fund said is the worst regression for childhood vaccinations in 30 years, Africa is the region with the highest number of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children. UNICEF said that 12.7 million African children missed one or more vaccinations and 8.7 million didn't receive a single dose of any vaccine from 2019-2021.

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Ignoring experts, China's sudden zero-COVID exit cost lives

When China suddenly scrapped onerous zero-COVID measures in December, the country wasn't ready for a massive onslaught of cases. Hospitals turned away ambulances, crematoriums burned bodies around the clock, and relatives hauled dead loved ones to warehouses for lack of storage space.

Chinese state media claimed the decision to open up was based on "scientific analysis and shrewd calculation," and "by no means impulsive." But in reality, China's ruling Communist Party ignored repeated efforts by top medical experts to kickstart exit plans until it was too late, The Associated Press found.

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New COVID origins data point to raccoon dogs in China market

Genetic material collected at a Chinese market near where the first human cases of COVID-19 were identified show raccoon dog DNA comingled with the virus, adding evidence to the theory that the virus originated from animals, not from a lab, international experts say.

"These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

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China dismisses FBI statement on COVID-19 lab leak theory

For the second day in a row, China on Wednesday dismissed U.S. suggestions that the COVID-19 pandemic may have been triggered by a virus that leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

Responding to comments by FBI Director Christopher Wray, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the involvement of the U.S. intelligence community was evidence enough of the "politicization of origin tracing."

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After 3 years, Morocco lets Covid emergency powers lapse

A state of emergency that had been periodically renewed by Moroccan authorities for the past three years to battle the Covid pandemic lapsed without extension on Tuesday.

First declared on March 24, 2020 as the pandemic swept across the globe, the emergency had allowed authorities to take exceptional measure to battle the spread of the virus, including lockdowns, border closures and restrictions on movement and gatherings, including sports events. 

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Coronavirus origins still a mystery 3 years into pandemic

A crucial question has eluded governments and health agencies around the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began: Did the virus originate in animals or leak from a Chinese lab?

Now, the U.S. Department of Energy has assessed with "low confidence" in that it began with a lab leak, according to a person familiar with the report who wasn't authorized to discuss it. The report has not been made public.

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From Lebanon to Zimbabwe, 15 childhood cancer foundations join St. Jude Global Alliance

This month, 15 new members joined the St. Jude Global Alliance, a worldwide network of institutions working to improve survival rates for pediatric cancer and catastrophic diseases. In a historic first for the Alliance, these new partners are fundraising organizations rather than medical institutions, each dedicated to raising funds for hospitals in their home countries.

Each year, an estimated 400,000 children worldwide develop cancer. Globally, approximately 90% of children with cancer live in low- and middle-income countries, and far too many of these children lack access to adequate diagnosis and treatment. Compounding the problem is limited public funding for pediatric research and care, and imbalances in the technology available to raise needed funds. Most of these children will unnecessarily die from their diseases.

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WHO chief arrives in Syria's quake-hit Aleppo

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrived on Saturday in Syria's quake-stricken city of Aleppo, state media reported. 

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Brazil donates 38 solar-powered water purifiers to Lebanon

The Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon Tarcísio Costa has participated in a ceremony alongside General Mohammad Kheir, head of the High Relief Committee (HRC) and representatives of Lebanese NGOs, marking the delivery of a Brazilian humanitarian donation of 38 water purifiers to Lebanon.

"The Embassy of Brazil in Lebanon is proud to announce that the Brazilian government has donated, on a humanitarian basis, solar-powered water purifiers to Lebanon," the embassy said in a statement.

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African countries lack 'immediate access' to cholera vaccine

Africa's public health agency says countries with deadly cholera outbreaks on the continent have no "immediate access" to vaccines amid a global supply shortage.

The acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, told journalists on Thursday that the agency is working with the World Health Organization and the vaccine alliance GAVI on ways to obtain more doses.

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