Voice of America

Voice of America 1 May 2020

Mass Grave for COVID-19 Victims in Brazil

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CORONAVIRUS

▶️ Thousands of graves have been dug in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, Friday, May 1, as the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.


U.S. researchers have opened another safety test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this one using a skin-deep shot instead of the usual deeper jab. Researchers are testing a vaccine by biotech company Inovio Pharmaceuticals. (April 8)
As covid-19 started to hit the world, many of us were concerned about whether we'd be infected.
Some said it's as bad as the flu, others predicted worse. Then news about health systems being overwhelmed and bodies piling up started to emerge.
That gave a bleak picture. But it's not everywhere. Mortality rates in Qatar and Singapore are below 0.1% - among the world's lowest.
The Gulf nation's mortality rate is at 0.07% -- that's 12 deaths in more than 16,000 cases.
And Singapore's is 0.093% of more than 19,000 infections.
Experts say testing, the availabilty of hospital beds and population age are three critical factors.
Yet, Singapore's outbreak is the biggest in southeast Asia
And Qatar has the second highest number of cases in the Arab world, although the curve is flattening.
So what's exactly behind that?

Presenter: Peter Dobbie

Guests
Dr Ali Omrani, Senior Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Head of Research at the Communicable Diseases Center at the Hamad Medical Corporation.
Dr Annie Sparrow, Professor of Population Health Science and Policy at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Archie Clements, Professor of Infectious Disease at Curtin University Perth.
President Trump ordered all flags at federal buildings to fly at half-staff for the next three days. The tribute, which will last through Memorial Day, honors Americans who have died from COVID-19. Nearly 100,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus.
On The Listening Post this week: Brazil's President Bolsonaro and COVID-19 misinformation. Plus, how well has the WHO performed as a key information source during the pandemic?

Brazil's Bolsonaro: Turning COVID-19 denial into media spectacle

A president at odds with his advisers and scientists over COVID-19, who has said the virus is no worse than the flu, and whose supporters accuse the media of hyping up the story. Not Donald Trump, but Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro.

Even as deaths in Brazil surpass China, President Bolsonaro continues to downplay the pandemic. After firing his health minister, he went on to attend a "protest" demanding military intervention to lift the lockdown. He also has the support of two of Brazil's biggest media players, Record TV and SBT. Whether Bolsonaro is in denial, or just playing politics, they are standing firmly by his side.

Contributors:

Andrew Fishman - Managing editor, The Intercept Brasil

Gustavo Ribeiro - Founder, Brazilian Report

Bob Fernandes - Journalist and commentator

Leonardo Custodio, Postdoctoral researcher - Abo Akademi University

On our radar:

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about a media storm in Pakistan, where a religious leader turned a televised coronavirus fundraiser into an attack on the broadcasters.

Who holds WHO accountable?

COVID-19 is the biggest news story most of us have ever seen. Of all the institutions responsible for getting information out, the World Health Organization (WHO) may be the most vital.

The WHO is a specialised agency of the United Nations borne out of the recognition that no single country can manage a global outbreak, and that an international health body is needed to rise above the politics of national interests.

In this pandemic, however, the WHO has been accused of falling short of its mandate and was unable to act independently in accessing and assessing the outbreak. The WHO was only granted access to Wuhan in mid-February. And not only did it fail to verify the early information on COVID-19 coming out of China, but it amplified it by repeating Chinese misinformation.

On January 14, the WHO tweeted that there was "no proof of human-to-human transmission" of the coronavirus. But at the time, media in Hong Kong and other countries, were already comparing the virus to SARS and saying it was most likely transmitting from people to people.

The Listening Post's producer Nic Muirhead reports on the WHO, and how one of the most important news sources in the world may be compromised.

Contributors:

Lawrence Gostin - Director, O'Neill Institute, Georgetown University

Osman Dar - Global Health Programme, Chatham House

Stephen Buranyi - Journalist, The Guardian

Rana Mitter - Director, China Centre, Oxford University

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