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Bill Gates says India should not be given vaccine formula

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Bill Gates has been in the headlines for several reasons since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The tech mogul was celebrated, mocked and even scathingly criticised for his stand on the production and distribution of a vaccine candidate for the novel disease. A new comment by Gates puts him in a bad light yet again, as the tech entrepreneur suggests not to share patented vaccines with other countries.

Bill Gates was asked if a change in intellectual property law be helpful in the current Covid crisis? The backing thought was to share the vaccine formula and production techniques with countries other than the US so as to enable localised production.

To the surprise and shock of many, Gates said no.

He provided a couple of reasons for his argument. One of these was the limited vaccine factories across the world. Another was the process of transferring the technology itself, which would not be very effective without the “grants” and “expertise” that the US has, as per Gates.

Both vague, uninspiring reasons and not true to the slightest of thought. But even if you start to consider them as legit challenges, it is what Gates said in the midst that ticked off the deafest of ears.

“Moving something that had never been done moving a vaccine from say a J&J factory into a factory in India, that, it’s novel.”

India? Really? Had Gates not mentioned a specific country in his comment, he might have had a chance to get away with the comment. But considering that the country has the highest production capacity of vaccines in the world, the comment lost its credibility almost immediately.

The fact that India is a vaccine manufacturing hub is known to the world. At the start of this year, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the country’s vaccine production capacity as “the best asset that the world has today” in the fight against Covid-19. The backbone of this production is, anyway, a technology transfer between SII and AstraZeneca and not an individual effort to come up with a magic solution. So how Gates can point this out as a challenge is anybody’s guess.

In fact, Gates himself noted that the vaccine manufacturers are making such a technology transfer happen. Then why it cannot or rather “should not be done” is a question that Gates seems much confused on.

One might argue the claims based on the country’s ongoing crisis with the disease. That, however, can partly be blamed on the irregular distribution of the vaccine units to other countries and on a tragic under-preparedness of the country to fight a second wave, but not the lack of vaccine production capacity.

Another dull reason he put out for this was the trials required on vaccine candidates. But to think of it, any vaccine candidate is anyway tested in every region of use. So, one can only guess what Gates was trying to imply there.

This is not the first time Gates has come under the radar for his involvement with the vaccine availability around the world. As the pandemic evolved and a new perspective of the world post-Covid-19 came in, many started pointing fingers at how Gates profited from these vaccines.

A growing number of people from across the globe now hold the narrative that Gates knowingly pushed the vaccine towards a profiting business model rather than going for vaccine equity which is the need of the hour.

A report by Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network Ltd (AFTINET) points out the involvement of Gates through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation towards the partnership of the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca to deliver its Covid-19 vaccine candidate to the countries across the world. The report mentions that this was a major reason for the exclusive license controlled distribution of the vaccine instead of an open distribution model for any manufacturer.

Since much of this is speculation, and outright blame cannot be put on Gates for this. But some hints point to its legitimacy. Gates profited during the pandemic through sources directly linked to the Covid-19 related supplies. Such comments on keeping the vaccines exclusive do not help his case either.

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North Korea is facing a severe food shortage

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Addressing a meeting of senior leaders, Mr Kim said: “The people’s food situation is now getting tense”.

He said the agricultural sector had failed to meet its grain targets due to typhoons last year, which caused flooding.

There are reports that food prices have spiked, with NK News reporting that a kilogram of bananas costs $45 (£32).

North Korea has closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Trade with China has plummeted as a result. North Korea relies on China for food, fertiliser and fuel.

North Korea is also struggling under international sanctions, imposed because of its nuclear programmes.

The authoritarian leader of the single-party state talked about the food situation at the ruling Workers’ Party central committee which started this week in the capital Pyongyang.

During the meeting, Mr Kim said that national industrial output had grown by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Officials were expected to discuss relations with the US and South Korea during the event but no details have been released yet.

In April, Mr Kim made a a rare admission of looming hardship, calling on officials to “wage another, more difficult ‘Arduous March’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little”.

The Arduous March is a term used by North Korea officials to refer to the country’s struggle during the 1990s famine, when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without crucial aid.

The total number of North Koreans who starved to death at the time is not known, but estimates range up to three million.

It is highly unusual for Kim Jong-un to publicly acknowledge a food shortage. But this is a North Korean leader who has already admitted that his economic plan has failed.

The problem for Mr Kim is that when he took over from his father, he promised his people a more prosperous future. He said they would have meat on their tables and access to electricity. This has not happened. Now he’s having to prime the population for more hard work.

He is trying to tie this into the global pandemic, and state media reported that he pointed out to party officials that the situation across the world is getting “worse and worse”. With so little access to outside information, he can paint a picture of things being bad everywhere – not just in sealed off North Korea. He also described efforts to beat Covid-19 as a “protracted war”. That signals that border closures are not easing any time soon.

That is the concern of many aid organisations. The sealed border has prevented some food and medicine getting through. Most NGOs have had to leave the country, unable to get staff and supplies in or out.

Pyongyang has always called for “self-reliance”. It has closed itself off, just as it may need assistance and it is unlikely to ask for help. If it continues to push away all offers of international assistance, as ever, it may be the people who pay the price.

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Christian pastor killed over outreach to Muslims: ‘Today Allah has judged you’

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A radical Muslim has confessed to police in Uganda that he killed a 70-year-old pastor earlier this month because of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims by sharing the Gospel.

The accused, identified as Imam Uthman Olingha, told police he killed Bishop Francis Obo, senior pastor of Mpingire Pentecostal Revival Church Ministries International in Odapako village Mpingire Sub-County, on June 11, Morning Star News reported.

Olingha was one of the Muslim extremists dressed in Islamic attire who stopped Pastor Obo and his wife on their way home from a market at about 8:30 p.m., his wife, Christine Obo, said.

“Olingha openly confessed to police that he can’t regret that he killed the bishop because he did it in the cause of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims. He added that Allah will be with him in jail, but the kafiri (infidel) deserved the killing.”

One of the attackers told the pastor, who oversaw 17 churches across the region and had been sharing Christ with Muslims, that he was an “infidel” who caused Muslims to leave Islam and “blasphemes the words of Allah,” and that, “Today Allah has judged you.”

A week before the murder, the couple had invited a former Islamic teacher to testify on how he became a Christian at their church, Christine Obo recalled. Area Muslims were also upset with the church because it offered the former Islamic teacher a pig as part of a micro-enterprise livestock project that helped raise funds for the church, she added.

Describing the incident, she said, “As I moved a few meters in a hurry trying to save my life, I heard a little noise and wailing from my husband and realized that his life was in danger.”

When she reached home, she was trembling and unable to speak, she said, and her children took her to a hospital. When she regained consciousness the following morning, she told her oldest son and his siblings to go to the site.

“Reaching there, they were shocked and fearful as they found a big number of Christians and relatives gathered around the dead body mourning their bishop after being murdered by Muslims,” Obo was quoted as saying.

According to World Watch Monitor, a homegrown Islamist rebel movement organizing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has emboldened Ugandan radicals to persecute Christians.

Voice of the Martyrs earlier noted that Uganda’s history has made it vulnerable to the influence of Islam as “Arab countries also continue to invest significant resources into furthering Muslim interests in the country.”

In Uganda, persecution is mainly seen in the form of local Islamists persecuting Christians, mostly in areas where “radicals have been steadily encroaching.”

“Radical Islam’s influence has grown steadily, and many Christians within the majority-Muslim border regions are facing severe persecution, especially those who convert from Islam,” a Voice of the Martyrs factsheet explains. “Despite the risks, evangelical churches in Uganda have responded by reaching out to their neighbors; many churches are training leaders how to share the Gospel with Muslims and care for those who are persecuted after they become Christians.”

Last December, a mob of Muslim extremists in Uganda reportedly killed 41-year-old former imam Yusuf Kintu a week after he converted to Christianity.
Sources:Christian Post

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