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Experts warn of pandemic disaster unless we understand COVID origin

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Leading US infectious disease experts say we could face “Covid-26” and “Covid-32”

Scott Gottlieb from Pfizer Inc. warns if we want to avoid possible covid-26 and Covid-32 pandemics, cooperation from China is crucial.

This comes amid growing speculation that coronavirus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan way back in November 2019.

Wuhan Institute of Virology
The P4 laboratory on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology on May 27.
Photographer: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

“There’s going to be Covid-26 and Covid-32 unless we fully understand the origins of Covid-19”

Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital CENTRE for Vaccine Development

Peter Hotez from the Texas Centre for Vaccine Development also says scientists should be allowed to conduct an investigation in China.

He says a team should study COVID’s origins in the Hubei province for six months to a year. He added the team should include scientists, epidemiologists, virologists and bat ecologists.

However, Chinese officials say the inquiry is evidence of “stigmatisation, political manipulation and blame-shifting”

New coronavirus strain that spreads more easily than others

This comes as authorities in Vietnam recently detected a new coronavirus variant.

Experts think the strain may be a hybrid from India and the United Kingdom.

The Vietnamese health minister said scientists found the new variant after examining the genetic makeup of the virus.

Lab tests also suggest the new strain might spread more easily than other versions of the virus.

Investigations into COVID’s origns

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced that his administration would be conducting an independent investigation into Covid-19.

Biden asked the country’s intelligence organisations to “redouble their efforts” and establish a definitive conclusion within 90 days.

He said: “the U-S will keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation”.

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Global Politics

Jab or jail: Duterte’s warning to Filipinos

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The President of the Phillipines is threatening his citizens with jail, if they don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine hesitancy is a serious problem in the Phillipines.

In a country where more than 23,000 people have died from COVID-19, a recent poll indicated only a third of Filipinos are willing to get inoculated.

The nation’s leader has threatened those who fail to do so.

In a televised address, Rodrigo Duterte warned: ‘You choose, Covid vaccine or I will have you jailed’.

He says that village leaders should “keep a list of those who refused to be vaccinated”.

“If you’re a person who’s not vaccinated and a potential carrier, to protect the people, I have to sequester you in jail.”

The comments put the hardline leader at odds with health officials who say vaccines are voluntary.

Last year the President ordered police and military to kill citizens who defied lockdown restrictions.

There have been more than 1.3 million cases of coronavirus in the country since the start of the pandemic.

“Don’t get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country,” Duterte told citizens in his address. “I’m just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government.”

“The first wave has really depleted the resources of government,” the President said. “Another one would be disastrous for this country.”

Duterte claims that is why “the stricter you are, the better”.

In response to his comments, the nation’s Justice Secretary says he believes the President “merely used strong words to drive home the need for us to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity as soon as possible”.

Menardo Guevarra added that there is currently no law that penalises people who refuse to get a COVID vaccine.

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Global Politics

Millions of American families are about to get cash in their pockets

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From next month, around 36 million American families are due to begin receiving payments totalling up to $1800 through to December this year.

Lawmakers have temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) available to families with children in 2021.

Known as the enhanced Child Tax Credit, it was signed into law by President Joe Biden as part of the American Rescue plan.

The efforts will increase the previous $2,000 annual tax credit to $3,600 per child, with half being paid in cash instalments and the rest claimed on 2021 tax returns.

Families will get monthly payments of up to $300 for each child 6 years old and under and up to $250 for each child 6 to 18 years old.

These funds can help parents afford necessities like diapers, school supplies, and food. But this increase in the CTC payments has only been approved for 2021.

The Biden administration has also proposed to extend this new cash-back system for five years if successful.

An estimated 90 percent of children in the United States will automatically get the CTC. Even if a parent is making little to no income, they can still be eligible for the new CTC.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris says residents need to “spread the word”

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Global Politics

Fresh study reveals divide in the U.S

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A new poll has found that around one-third of Americans are convinced that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

The Monmouth University study found that 32 percent of respondents are of the impression that widespread voter fraud was the reason President Biden won the election.

In similar polls conducted by the university in November, January and March, this figure has remained steady.

The study’s director says “the continuing efforts to question the validity of last year’s election is deepening the partisan divide in ways that could have long-term consequences for America’s Democracy”.

Unsurprisingly, the research also found that the majority of those who believe in the voter fraud theory are either Republican or Republican-leaning.

The Monmouth poll surveyed 810 U.S. adults from June 9-14. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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