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WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 6 November 2020 – World Health Organization

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  • Today, WHO and UNICEF are jointly launching an emergency appeal to rapidly boost measles and polio vaccination. We estimate that $655 million US dollars is needed to address dangerous immunisation gaps in children in non-Gavi eligible countries. 
  • As the pandemic unfolds, as countries have reflected, they have used intra action reviews to make their responses stronger.  An Intra-Action Review uses a whole-of-society, multi-sectoral approach, acknowledging the contributions of all relevant stakeholders involved in COVID-19 preparedness and response at the national and sub-national levels. 
  • Intra-Action Reviews not only help countries improve their COVID-19 response but also contribute towards their long-term health security. To date, 21 countries have completed them and others are in pipeline.  
  • Today we are happy to welcome the Ministers of Health from Indonesia, the Kingdom of Thailand and South Africa to share their experience and lessons from COVID-19.   

——–

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

In the summer, Africa was certified as wild polio free. This marked one of the greatest public health achievements of all time.   

Driven by millions of health workers reaching every child repeatedly with an effective vaccine and a unique partnership between WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, CDC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi – global polio eradication remains achievable.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic hurt momentum as polio and immunization efforts were suspended.  

This left children, especially in high-risk areas, more vulnerable to killer diseases like polio, measles and pneumonia. 

And now we’re starting to see outbreaks of these diseases.

We need to turn the tide quickly and ensure no child is left behind.

Today, WHO and UNICEF are jointly launching an emergency appeal to rapidly boost measles and polio vaccination.

While the world watches intently as scientists work to ensure safe and effective vaccines are developed for COVID-19, it is important to ensure that all children receive the lifesaving vaccines that are already available.

We estimate that $655 million US dollars is needed to address dangerous immunisation gaps in children in non-Gavi eligible countries.

This is a global call to action for all donors to stay the course and not to turn their backs on the poorest and most marginalized children in their hour of need.

===

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we must take all opportunities to learn and improve the response as we go.

Many countries heard our call back in January when we rang our highest alarm by calling a public health emergency of international concern. 

They worked closely with us and followed the parameters set out in the strategic response plan that WHO outlined on the 4 February.

They’ve conducted reviews, shared data and experience and honed their response to their national experience and unique situation on the ground.

As the pandemic unfolds, as countries have reflected, they have used intra action reviews to make their responses stronger.

This kind of self-analysis review is what the world called for during World Health Assembly back in May. 

An Intra-Action Review uses a whole-of-society, multi-sectoral approach, acknowledging the contributions of all relevant stakeholders involved in COVID-19 preparedness and response at the national and sub-national levels.

By reviewing and adapting the current preparedness and response strategies and identifying what is working well and what needs to be strengthened, the review gives countries the opportunity to change the trajectory of the pandemic.

Intra-Action Reviews not only help countries improve their COVID-19 response but also contribute towards their long-term health security.

To date, 21 countries have completed them and others are in pipeline.

Today we are happy to welcome the Ministers of Health from Indonesia, the Kingdom of Thailand and South Africa to share their experience and lessons from COVID-19.  

I would like to first introduce his excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Thailand Anutin Charnvirakul.

The floor is yours, your excellency.

===                     

Thank you Minister for those insightful remarks and lessons regarding Thailand’s response.

I would now like to welcome his excellency, Minister of Health of South Africa, Dr. Zwelini Mkhize.

Your excellency, the floor is yours.  

===

Minister, thank you for sharing South Africa’s determined efforts to tackle COVID-19.

I would now like to turn to the Minister of Health of Indonesia, Dr. Terawan Agus Putranto.

Your excellency, the floor is yours.

===

Thank you Minister Putranto for sharing Indonesia’s efforts to suppress COVID-19.

===

By conducting reviews in real-time and sharing lessons to the world, these three countries have reflected a blueprint for how countries can suppress COVID-19 and break the chains of transmission.

You can do exercises, you can do simulations, but the best time to look at your emergency response capacity is when an emergency is happening.

That is when you can clearly see what works, what doesn’t and what you need to improve.

There’s hope and now is the time to double down on efforts to tackle this virus.

Wherever a country is in terms of the outbreak, countries can turn it around by driving a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response.

It’s never too late.

While we invest and test vaccines to prove they’re safe and effective, I encourage all countries to learn from Thailand, South Africa, and Indonesia and work to suppress this virus today with the tools in hand that we know work.

We can save lives and livelihoods and end this pandemic, together.

I thank you.

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Trump threatens defence veto over social media protections – Canora Courier

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a defence policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.

On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump took aim at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

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Trump called Section 230 “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” adding, “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”

Trump has been waging war against social media companies for months, claiming they are biased against conservative voices.

In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.

Since losing the presidential election, Trump has flooded social media with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Twitter has tagged many such Trump tweets with the advisory, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

Tuesday’s veto threat is another potential roadblock for the passage of the annual defence policy measure, which is already being held up in Congress by a spat over military bases named for Confederate officers. The measure, which has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis, guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.

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Bill Barr bashed in right-wing media after election fraud comments: 'He is either a liar or a fool or both' – CNN

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Since he was confirmed as attorney general, William Barr has been somewhat of a hero in the right-wing media universe. He has assailed the Russia probe. He has talked a big game about cracking down on Antifa. He has sharply criticized the news media. On and on it goes.
But his celebrity status took a hit on Tuesday when he undercut President Trump’s brazenly false contention that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. Speaking to the Associated Press, Barr said that, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
The statement from Barr, which merely recited a simple fact, not only cut against what Trump has been saying, but also what Trump’s propagandists and allies in right-wing media have been feeding their audiences. For weeks, these media personalities have strung their audiences along, suggesting that damning proof of fraud was just around the corner. Which is why the comment from Barr stung so bad.
The comment effectively forced these right-wing stars to pick between acknowledging the reality Barr laid out or continuing Trump’s fantasy. Trump’s most devoted propagandists chose the latter. And so they started to throw Barr under the bus, just as they’ve done with every other conservative who has dared to contradict the president. (Think about how former conservative stars such as Jeff Sessions, Justin Amash, Paul Ryan, and others were treated when they didn’t blindly oblige Trump’s demands.)

“A liar or a fool or both”

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, whose conspiratorial program is a favorite of the president, attacked Barr in brutal terms on his show. “For the attorney general of the United States to make that statement — he is either a liar or a fool or both,” Dobbs said. Dobbs then went further, suggesting Barr was “perhaps compromised.” He characterized Barr as having “appeared to join in with the radical Dems and the deep-state and the resistance.”
Dobbs wasn’t the only one. Newsmax host Greg Kelly, who has risen to fame in right-wing media circles in the last few weeks for suggesting Trump could emerge as the winner of the election, went after Barr on his show. “Some of us are wondering if he is a warrior with the Constitution or if he’s just a bureaucrat,” Kelly said. Kelly added that he “can’t believe” if Barr “looked for voter fraud he wouldn’t find any.” And Mark Levin said he “regret[ted] to say” that Barr’s comments were “misleading.”
The far-right blogs were even harsher. The Gateway Pundit, a fringe website which Trump has repeatedly promoted, published a post that said Barr had revealed himself as “totally deaf, dumb and blind.” The post went on to say that Barr’s “masquerade as someone opposed to the criminality of the Deep State” had been “exposed as a venal lie” and that he was a “fraud.” It concluded, “You either fix the damn corrupt system or we will abandon you…Our days of tolerating betrayal are over.”

Some hold fire

While Barr faced strong criticism from some notable names in right-wing media, others refrained from attacking him on Tuesday night. Notably, heavyweights Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity didn’t skewer the AG. It will be interesting over the next 24 hours if this anti-Barr narrative takes greater hold in the Trump-friendly media, or if it dissipates.

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Trump threatens defence veto over social media protections – BarrieToday

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a defence policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.

On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump took aim at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

Trump called Section 230 “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” adding, “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”

Trump has been waging war against social media companies for months, claiming they are biased against conservative voices.

In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.

Since losing the presidential election, Trump has flooded social media with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Twitter has tagged many such Trump tweets with the advisory, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

Tuesday’s veto threat is another potential roadblock for the passage of the annual defence policy measure, which is already being held up in Congress by a spat over military bases named for Confederate officers. The measure, which has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis, guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.

The Associated Press

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