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UN chief voices appreciation for India”s leadership in fight against COVID-19, vaccine assistance

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(Asian News Hub) – India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti on Saturday said that UN chief Antonio Guterres, in a letter dated February 17, “extends his personal gratitude” to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for “India’s offer of 200,000 doses” of COVID-19 vaccines for UN peacekeepers.

Guterres has voiced appreciation for India’s leadership in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its efforts to bring a “much-needed supply” of the COVID-19 vaccines to the world market.

The Secretary-General says “India has been a global leader in pandemic response efforts”, Tirumurti tweeted, expressing his gratitude to the UN Chief.

In an excerpt of the letter tweeted by Tirumurti, Guterres says, “Indeed, India has been a global leader in pandemic response efforts having provided critical medicines, diagnostic kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment to more than 150 countries.

“Efforts by India in developing and manufacturing one of the two vaccines currently granted Emergency Use Listing by the World Health Organization bring a much-needed supply to the global vaccine market. I also appreciate your continued efforts to support and strengthen the COVAX Facility to ensure more equitable access.”

COVAX is is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday, India, which has been hailed as the pharmacy of the world, announced the gift of 200,000 COVID-19 doses for UN peacekeepers.

“Keeping in mind the UN Peacekeepers who operate in such difficult circumstances, we would like to announce today a gift of 200,000 doses for them,” Jaishankar said, addressing the UN Security Council open debate on the implementation of resolution 2532 (2020) on the cessation of hostilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quoting the Bhagavad Gita, Jaishankar had said “Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.”

He told the meeting that it is this spirit in which India approaches the COVID challenge and urged the Council to work collectively to address its different dimensions.

The 200,000 doses essentially mean that it will be possible to administer the required double doses of COVID vaccines to all UN peacekeepers across missions.

According to UN Peacekeeping, currently, a total of 94,484 personnel are serving in 12 peacekeeping operations across the world led by the Department of Peace Operations.

A total of 121 nations are contributing uniformed personnel to the UN peacekeeping missions.

India is traditionally among the largest troop-contributing countries to peacekeeping missions.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, had told PTI in response to a question on the Secretary General”s thoughts on the announcement by India, said that Guterres is “extremely grateful” for the gift of 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for UN peacekeepers and the distribution will be operationalised by the UN”s Department of Support.

“We are extremely grateful for this donation announced today by the Indian delegation. The distribution will be operationalised by the UN”s Department of Support,” Dujarric had said.

Earlier this week, two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine were given WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL). The versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca-SK Bioscience (AZ-SKBio) and the Serum Institute of India (AZ-SII), are now available for global rollout through the COVAX Facility.

The vaccine Covishield is the version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. Covaxin is the indigenously developed vaccine by pharma company Bharat Biotech.

Jaishankar said these two vaccines have already been granted emergency authorisation and additionally, as many as 30 candidates are under various stages of development.

Under the initiative “Vaccine Maitri”, which translates into Vaccine Friendship, India is providing vaccines to the world.

Last month, Guterres had said that the vaccine production capacity of India is “one of the best assets the world has today”, and had applauded India for supplying COVID-19 vaccines to nations around the world.

I would like to say how much we count on India. I mean, India has one of the most advanced pharmaceutical industries. India played a very important role in the production of generics for use that was a very important element of democratisation of access to medicines all over the world,” Guterres had said.

PTI

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Afghanistan: 37 killed, over 70 injured as blast hits Shia mosque in Kandahar

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(Asian News Hub) – Suicide bombers assaulted a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan that was packed with worshippers attending weekly Friday prayers, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 70, Associated Press reported quoting hospital official and an eyewitness.

The attack on the Imam Barga mosque came a week after a bombing claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan.

Also Read: Amit Shah warns Pakistan, refers to surgical strike

Murtaza, an eye-witness who like many Afghans goes by one name, said four suicide bombers attacked the mosque. Two detonated their explosives at a security gate, allowing the other two to run inside and strike the congregation of worshippers.

Speaking to The Associated Press by phone, he said Friday prayers are typically attended by around 500 people.

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At least 20 killed, over 300 injured in an earthquake in Pakistan

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(Asian News Hub) – At least 20 people were killed and over 300 others injured after a powerful 5.9 earthquake struck Pakistan’s Balochistan province early on Thursday, October 7, 2021, according to PTI quoting media reports.

Disaster management officials said the death toll may increase, Geo News reported.

According to the seismological centre, the epicentre was located near Harnai at a depth of 15 km.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said many of the dead were women and children.

The quake affected Quetta, Sibi, Harnai, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Chaman, Ziarat and Zhob in Balochistan.

Images on social media showed people in the city of Quetta out on the streets in the aftermath of the quake, Dawn newspaper reported.

Aftershocks are still being felt in different areas. The earliest tremors were felt at 3:20 am after which panicked citizens rushed out of their houses reciting verses from the holy Quran. Relief and rescue activities are underway, with an emergency declared in all hospitals.

According to Deputy Commissioner of Harnai Sohail Anwar Hashmi, several people have been rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

He said that several buildings in Harnai have been damaged. Many people were left buried under the rubble.

The power supply to the area has been suspended, he said.

According to the rescue sources, more than 70 houses were reported damaged in Harnai.

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World surpasses 5M COVID-19 deaths

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(Asian News Hub) – The coronavirus death toll around the world surpassed 5 million on Friday, according to Reuters’s tally.

Around the world, an average of 8,000 deaths a day were reported, according to the outlet. However, it noted that the global death rate has slowed in recent weeks.

Reuters reported that it took over a year to accumulate 2.5 million deaths, but it took under eight months to accumulate the second 2.5 million deaths.

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