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WHO spokesperson reveals details of its expert team visit to Wuhan

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Even as vaccines are rolled out, COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, having caused nearly 2 million deaths. The situation is in dire need of stronger global cooperation. That spirit can be at least reflected by the latest World Health Organization (WHO) expert team’s visit to China which will start in Wuhan, where the first cases of infections in China were reported.

“This is about understanding what happened so that the world can be better equipped as the world to prevent it happening again,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris in an exclusive interview with CGTN host Tian Wei. She stressed that the field trip is “not about finding someone to blame. Let’s leave the politics out of it.”

Dr. Harris revealed that preparations about the mission started last October. There were a few virtual meetings held since then. This trip will be about a wide variety of subjects related to the discovery research of the origins of COVID-19. While no quick answers are expected.

The WHO team of 10 experts from 10 different countries are expected to visit the Chinese city Wuhan, where cases of infections were first reported at the end of 2019. Yet later discoveries found the presence of the virus in Spain, Italy and the U.S., demonstrating how much is still unknown about the virus.

While the world is bogged down by this pandemic, there appear a few COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been developed at unprecedented speed. But that very fact has made people uneasy: was it developed too fast? Are those vaccines trustworthy?

“People should be concerned about the safety issues,” noted Dr. Harris, but she explained that one thing that has really slowed down vaccine development in the past was getting the funding for the studies, and this time that part got ample support.

Harris said that only after very careful review of data on issues of safety and efficacy, and visiting manufacturing factories, would the WHO put a vaccine on its Emergency Use Listing (EUL). So far only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the validation at the end of last year, but more announcements could be made as soon as in the next few weeks, according to Harris. Among those are candidates coming from Sinopharm and Sinovac, two Chinese vaccine developers.

The COVAX program was set up by the WHO with GAVI, the vaccine alliance, to help distribute vaccines to more countries. China joined COVAX last year.

Out of the 42 countries that are rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, 36 are high-income countries and six middle-income countries. “So there’s a clear problem that low- and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month.

“We are not happy that it’s not happening quickly enough,” said Harris, “but we determined to make it happen.”

World Insight with Tian Wei is an international platform for debate and intelligent discussion. It is the meeting point of both the highly influential and rising voices, facilitated by host Tian Wei. It provides nutrition to form your own thoughts and ideas through a 45-minute live debate and interviews.

Schedule: Monday-Saturday

 

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Foreign news

Xi Jinping announces China’s eradication of extreme poverty

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Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s eradication of extreme poverty at a national commendation conference held in Beijing on Thursday. 

With such achievements, China has created another “miracle” that will “go down in history,” Xi said.

“Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor.”

Xi put forward the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation” in November 2013 during an inspection tour of central China’s Hunan Province.

Focus on poverty eradication in country’s governance 

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has been working to improve people’s livelihood since its foundation, and the CPC Central Committee has kept poverty eradication at a prominent position in the country’s governance over the past eight years, Xi said. 

More than 10 million impoverished people were lifted out of poverty on average each year since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012. 

During these eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line were lifted out of poverty. All the 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 impoverished villages have been removed from the poverty list.

In addition, 770 million rural residents have shaken off poverty since the beginning of reform and opening-up over 40 years ago, when calculated as per the current poverty line, Xi said. 

Reviewing China’s effort over the past eight years, Xi said the country totally invested fiscal funds of nearly 1.6 trillion yuan (about $246 billion) into poverty alleviation and adopted a targeted poverty alleviation strategy, striving to eradicate poverty through development.

Meanwhile, over 1,800 workers lost lives for the country’s cause of poverty alleviation, Xi added. 

‘China example’ of poverty reduction

“The country has created a ‘China example’ of poverty reduction and made great contributions to global poverty alleviation,” Xi said. 

China met the poverty eradication target set in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and according to the World Bank’s international poverty line, the number of Chinese people lifted out of poverty over the past 40 years accounts for more than 70 percent of the global total, Xi noted.

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