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Phuket Gazette World News: U.N. General Assembly declares Crimea secession vote invalid

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Phuket Gazette World News: U.N. General Assembly declares Crimea secession vote invalid | Thaiger

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.N. General Assembly declares Crimea secession vote invalid
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution declaring invalid Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum earlier this month on seceding from Ukraine, in a vote that Western nations said highlighted Russia’s isolation.

There were 100 votes in favour, 11 against and 58 abstentions in the 193-nation assembly. A number of countries did not participate in the vote. Western diplomats said the number of yes votes was higher than expected despite what they said was Moscow’s aggressive lobbying efforts against the resolution.

Before the vote, one senior Western diplomat had described a result with 80-90 yes votes as successful for Ukraine. Other Western diplomats agreed, saying the result showed how few active supporters Moscow has around the world.

The General Assembly resolution echoes a text Moscow vetoed earlier this month in the Security Council. The approved declaration dismisses Crimea’s vote as “having no validity, (and) cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or of the City of Sevastopol.”

The resolution, which does not mention Russia by name, says the General Assembly “calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status” of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Although the resolution is non-binding, Western diplomats said it sends a strong political message about Russia’s lack of broad support on the Crimean issue. They said the fact that Russia lobbied so hard to persuade U.N. member states not to vote for it was proof that Moscow took it seriously.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia introduced the draft resolution, which had the overwhelming support of Western nations.

“The purpose of this document is to reinforce core United Nations principles at a moment when they are experiencing a major challenge,” he said.

“This text is also about respect of territorial integrity and non use of force to settle disputes,” he added. “It sends an essential message that the international community will not allow what has happened in Crimea to set a precedent for further challenges to our rules based international framework.”

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin had urged countries to support what he said was Crimea’s right of self-determination and to respect the Crimeans’ choice to place themselves under the authority of Moscow.

Ukraine’s former Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted last month after a deadly crackdown on demonstrations in Kiev that left dozens dead. That prompted Moscow to seize the Black Sea peninsula.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said all countries supported the idea of self-determination but that Russia had used its military to forcibly annex Crimea.

“Coercion cannot be the means by which a self determines,” she said. The chaos that would ensue is not a world that any of us can afford. It is a dangerous world.”

Power added that the resolution showed “that borders are not mere suggestions.”

Only 10 other countries stood with Russia in voting against the resolution. The group of 11 states, which the senior Western diplomat described as the “dirty dozen”, included critics of Western nations like Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan and Syria.

China, which since 2011 joined Russia in vetoing three Security Council resolutions that condemned Syria and threatened it with sanctions, abstained, as it did in the Security Council vote on Ukraine earlier this month.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs

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Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs | Thaiger
Stock photo of Pfizer vaccine via Flickr

The CEO for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines says it is likely that people will need a 3rd dose of the vaccine and to receive it annually. Albert Bourla, told CNBC, that the booster, or 3rd dose, will be needed less than a year after being fully vaccinated.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a 3rd dose, somewhere between 6 and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”

Bourla’s comment echoes that of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO when he stated in February, that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Both statements reflect the fact that since the vaccine is new, and testing periods are shorter than most vaccines in the past, researchers are still unclear about how long the vaccine will protect against the virus.

Pfizer says that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe diseases up to 6 months after the 2nd dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at 6 months.

Just yesterday, the Biden administration’s Covid response chief science officer, David Kessler, noted that new Covid variants could “challenge” the effectiveness of the shots.

“We don’t know everything at this moment. We are studying the durability of the antibody response. It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”

Late last month, the National Institute of Health started testing a new Covid vaccine from Moderna in addition to the one it already has, designed to protect against a problematic variant first found in South Africa. The variant is similar to that of the UK one that has recently made landfall in Thailand.

Recent findings, by The Lancet, however, have stated that the UK variant, known as B117, has a higher reproductive rate than other strains, and it’s more transmissible. However, it refuted earlier reports that the strain is more severe. Meanwhile, Thailand’s health minister is confirming his commitment to making AstraZeneca the nation’s chosen vaccine.

SOURCE: CNBC

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Economy

China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020

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China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020 | Thaiger
PHOTO: China - the second largest economy, and only major economy to grow last year.

China’s economy set a record for growth in Q1, 2021, marking an 18.3% jump in year-on-year figures, the biggest quarterly growth in almost 30 years. China only started publishing growth statistics in 1992, and this drastic increase is the fastest growth recorded since then.

The figures, however impressive, are mainly due to what is called a “low base effect” where the change from a low starting point translates into big percentage statistics. Because of the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Q1 2020 figures were dismal, allowing the big gain over the last year.

Quarter to quarter, the last 3 months saw only a 0.6% growth, but in the last quarter of 2020 China recorded an economic boom of 6.5% according to the Chinese government. Still, the figures are admirable, as China was the only major economy in the world to achieve growth in 2020. Most of the planet struggled to contain global Covid-19 outbreaks, crippling economies across the globe. But China, now the second-largest economy in the world, managed a 2.3% overall expansion. Even Chinese officials called the impressive statistics “better than we had expected.”

China has been growing in terms of imports and exports as well, with exports expanding nearly 31% and imports up 38% by price over last years.

SOURCE: CNN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine

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Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Denmark has announced that it is abandoning the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first European country to do so, amid concerns about very rare but serious blood clots. The rollout of the vaccine has run into problems in several countries, with its use either temporarily suspended or restricted to older age groups.

When concerns first arose over the vaccine’s rare side-effects, Denmark was the first country in Europe to suspend its use. In Thailand, use of the vaccine was suspended last month, before officials judged it safe to proceed, with Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul going on to confirm it would become the Kingdom’s primary Covid-19 vaccine.

Both the European drugs regulator and the World Health Organisation are standing by the jab, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. However, health officials in Denmark have now decided to ditch it for good.

“Denmark’s vaccination campaign will go ahead without the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Denmark has reported 2 cases of thrombosis (blood clotting) linked to administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, one of which proved fatal. The blood clot incidents arose after 140,000 people had received the jab. The Bangkok Post reports that 8% of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated and 17% have received their first dose.

The country plans to continue its rollout using the Modern and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Officials say they are confident that the availability of other jabs, coupled with the fact that Covid-19 is relatively under control in Denmark, means the country’s mass inoculation can continue without issue.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has released a statement acknowledging the decision taken by Danish health authorities.

“We recognise and respect the decision taken by the Danish Health Authority. Implementation and rollout of the vaccine programme is a matter for each country to decide, based on local conditions. We will continue to collaborate with the regulators and local authorities to provide all available data to inform their decisions.”

SOURCE: Euro News | Bangkok Post

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