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WHO Calls for Billions to Combat Coronavirus

By VOA News June 26, 2020

The World Health Organization needs more than $30 billion over the next year to develop and produce COVID-19 tests, vaccines and other treatments, the organization said Friday.

A WHO-led coalition focused on containing the spread of the coronavirus hopes to use the funds to speed up efforts to assist low- and middle-income (LMIC) countries by the middle of next year.

The WHO said in a statement Friday that plans include "the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of 500 million tests to LMICs by mid-2021, 245 million courses of treatments to LMICs by mid-2021, and 2 billion vaccine doses, of which 1 billion will be purchased for LMICs, by the end of 2021."

India reported close to a half million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday with 17,296 new infections, its biggest 24-hour increase. The spike has prompted a delay in the resumption of regular train services until August 12.

A coronavirus state of emergency in Thailand that critics maintain has been used to suppress political dissent may be extended next week. The cabinet is scheduled to decide on whether to extend it on Tuesday. The state of emergency empowers the government to censor the media, disperse gatherings and implement curfews.

In the U.S., a single-day record for new infections was set for a second straight day Thursday. U.S. states reported 39,327 new cases, according to the Washington Post, the highest one-day total since the outbreak began in December.

The U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 2.4 million, about one-fourth of all infections worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The U.S. is also the world leader in COVID-19 deaths, with over 124,400.

On Friday, the U.S. coronavirus task force held its first public briefing in nearly two months. Vice President Mike Pence said 16 states are experiencing increases in infections and 34 states have recently reported stabilizing numbers of new cases.

Pence said the federal government is focusing on surges in Southern states and encouraged people to comply with local, state and federal guidelines to avert further spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rick Bright, a top U.S. government medical researcher, has charged the Trump administration of advancing what he called a "coordinated effort" to punish him for exposing what he said is a bungled response to the coronavirus.

Bright filed a new complaint with the federal watchdog agency to which government whistleblowers can turn. Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said in his complaint he had been downgraded to a much lesser role in the National Institutes of Health that cut him off from work related to the coronavirus.

The top U.S. infectious disease expert said on CNN Friday the White House Coronavirus Task Force is considering testing groups of people at one time.

The proposal, which Dr. Anthony Fauci first mentioned to the Washington Post, is under consideration after President Donald Trump recently said he asked that testing be slowed down because more testing would reveal more infections.

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