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Coronavirus

Apple, Google launch COVID-19 exposure notifications in phones for contact tracing

The technology will assist health authorities in carrying out contact tracing without having to build an app.

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Fiscal actions of $11.7 trillion expended for COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns – IMF, WHO records highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases, Apple, Google launch COVID-19 exposure notifications in phones for contact tracing, Hydroxychloroquine, Oil and Gas companies revenues plummet by over N84 billion in 3 months, COVID-19, Coronavirus, access bank mourns staff

American Technology giants, Alphabet Inc’s Google, and Apple Inc, on Tuesday announced a new system that would enable public health authorities to use smartphones to help in contact tracing. This new system will assist health authorities in carrying out contact tracing without having to build an app.

The innovation, which is called Exposure Notifications Express, will allow public health officials to submit a small configuration file to Apple and Google. Both tech firms will then use the file to set up systems that phone owners can apply to determine if they have been near someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

READ: Zoom reports a surge in profit of 3,300%

For the iPhones, a new version of the iOS operating system released on Tuesday that would alert users of an exposure notification system from local health authorities is available, and allows users to set it up without downloading any new app. On Android devices, users will also get a prompt from their phones’ operating systems, though they will still have to download an automatically generated app.

The Exposure Notification Express also works closely with tools released by the two technology companies in May that enable public health officials to build apps that allow iPhones and Android devices to use Bluetooth signals to detect proximity to a person who has tested positive.

READ: Facebook rivals TikTok with launch of video-sharing product inside instagram

About 24 countries and 6 states in the United States have launched the exposure notification apps based on the Apple-Google technology in recent weeks without major hitches.

However, it is yet to be determined how effective the exposure notification apps will be in helping to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease. Most governments are not tracking detailed data on app usage in the interest of user privacy.

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Coronavirus

Covid:19 WHO says wealthy countries are undermining COVAX vaccine initiative

WHO DG has said that the deal between rich countries and vaccine manufacturers is undermining its COVAX initiative.

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COVID-19 vaccine likely to be ready by December - WHO, Virtual hackathon: WHO offers $20,000 to curb Coronavirus with African-tech solution, covid-19, coronavirus

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said that the deal between high-income countries and manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccine are undermining its COVAX initiative by reducing the number of doses it can purchase.

This is as he pleads with rich countries to check before ordering additional Covid-19 vaccine shots for themselves whether that undermines efforts to get vaccine shots to poorer nations.

According to a report from Al Jazeera, this was disclosed by the WHO boss after talks with German President, Walter Steinmeier

Wealthy nations have snapped up several billion vaccine doses and some countries have ordered enough shots to vaccinate their populations more than once, while some countries in the developing world have little or none.

Tedros said that these actions by the rich countries have even led to the reduction of the amount that was allocated to COVAX, although he did not mention the names of the countries involved or provide other details.

He harped on the need for the rich countries to cooperate in respecting the deals that COVAX has with the manufacturers and make sure before they seek more vaccines that their requests do not undermine those deals.

Tedros said, “But I don’t think they’re asking that question.’’

Tedros, who has earlier warned that the world faces a catastrophic moral failure if Covid-19 vaccines are not distributed fairly, said he understands the political pressures leaders in high-income countries face.

He said, “If this virus is not defeated everywhere, we cannot defeat it globally. It will have a safe haven somewhere and can strike back.’’

He added that countries left behind in vaccinating could also become breeding grounds for new variants.

He also called for the stepping up of vaccine production because with increased production, there will be more vaccines available, then there is a better volume to share.

What you should know

  • The WHO has kicked against vaccine nationalism, which they said will prolong the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. A successful global vaccination campaign is considered to be key to stemming the pandemic.
  • This led to the launching of the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to ensure equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine across the globe, especially among the poorer countries.
  • European nations have given financial support to the UN-backed COVAX scheme, which aims to get vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people and are considering sharing some of their own doses, though they have not specified when.
  • On Friday, leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers said they would accelerate global vaccine development and deployment and support “affordable and equitable access to vaccines” and treatments for COVID-19.

They cited a collective $7.5bn from the G7 to UN-backed efforts.

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Coronavirus

Ghana receives World’s first doses of free WHO Covax vaccines

Ghana received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from Covax.

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Ghana has received the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from Covax, a global scheme to procure and distribute inoculations for free, as the world races to contain the pandemic.

This was disclosed by World Health Organisation (WHO) Accra, Ghana via it’s Twitter handle on Wednesday.

Covax, launched last April to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations, said it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of the year.

READ: Health Minister says Nigeria may get COVID-19 vaccines in 10 days

In a joint statement issued by UNICEF and WHO, it stated, “We are pleased that Ghana has become the first country to receive the Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax facility.

“The 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, are part of an initial tranche of deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries.”

According to France24, the Emirates flight carrying the vaccines touched down at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport shortly after 0740 GMT, according to images broadcast on television.

READ: African Union secures 270 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from drugmakers

 

What you should know

  • Covax had said it aimed to deliver 2,412,000 doses of the vaccine to Ghana.
  • The country’s food and drug authority has authorised the use of the vaccines made in India as well as the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.
  • The West African nation has recorded 80,759 Covid-19 cases and 582 deaths since the start of the pandemic. These figures are believed to fall short of the real toll as the number of tests is low.
  • Health workers and other frontline staff are meant to be among the first to receive doses.
  • “In the days ahead, frontline workers will begin to receive vaccines,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. “The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin – the ramping up of the largest immunization campaign in history.”

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