Here’s an overview of the most important developments around the world today.
1. WHO recommends Eli Lilly, GSK-Vir’s drugs, to expand Covid-19 treatment pool
A World Health Organization (WHO) panel recommended the use of two drugs by Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology for Covid-19 patients, adding treatment options such as the rapidly spreading Omicron variant renders many ineffective. WHO data shows that Omicron, which evades the protection of many vaccines and therapies, has been identified in 149 countries.
The panel Thursday strongly recommended Lilly’s baricitinib, sold under the brand name Olumiant, for patients with severe Covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids, while conditionally endorsed GSK-Vir’s antibody therapy for non-severe patients at the highest risk of hospitalization. So far, GSK-Vir’s monoclonal antibody therapy is the only one shown to be effective in lab tests against Omicron, while similar treatments from Eli Lilly and Co and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals offered lower protection in such tests
2. Pakistan Passes Controversial Financing Act
The Pakistan National Assembly passed the controversial Financing (Supplementary) Bill on Thursday, dubbed the ‘mini-budget’, despite strong opposition from opposition parties. The bill aimed at raising more taxes and fees and empowering the central bank was introduced by the government on Dec. 30 to meet an important condition of the International Monetary Fund to approve $1 billion under the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility.
The opposition argued that additional taxes would hurt the already taxed masses, while the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021, also passed along with the Financing Act, would make the central bank stronger than the government and operate as it sees fit. .
3. Last year was the world’s sixth warmest on record, US scientists say
Last year was the seventh warmest year on record, leading to extreme weather events around the world and further evidence that the world is in a long-term warming trend, according to an analysis released Thursday by two US government agencies. The data collected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA also revealed that the past eight years were the eighth and the last decade the warmest since record keeping in 1880, officials said.
Warming in 2021 occurred despite the presence of La Nina in the Eastern Pacific, a cooling trend that generally lowers global temperatures. Last year’s extreme heat wave in the US Pacific Northwest, intense rains from Hurricane Ida and flooding in Germany and China were linked to global warming, the agencies said.
4. Britain’s Prince Andrew is losing royal and military ties
Prince Andrew had military ties and royal patronages have been removed and will no longer be known as “His Royal Highness,” Buckingham Palace said, as Queen Elizabeth’s son files a US lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse.
Andrew, 61, the Duke of York, was forced to resign from public duties in 2019 over his connections to convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and after a disastrous BBC TV interview that the prince had hoped would clear his name. Thursday’s move by the royal family means he will now lose all his royal connections.
5. Blinken says US is working on Havana Syndrome after diplomats are sick in Paris, Geneva
The United States still does not know what the disease known as Havana Syndrome or who is responsible for it, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Thursday after more US diplomats called in sick in Paris and Geneva. Blinken said the entire federal government is working to get to the bottom of the disease, which has affected about 200 US diplomats, officials and relatives abroad.
“To date, we don’t know exactly what happened and we don’t know exactly who is responsible,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC. That reports The Wall Street Journal on Thursday additional illnesses among officials serving in US diplomatic missions in Paris and Geneva, where the United States and Russia held security talks on Monday over Moscow’s troop build-up near the border with Ukraine.