Here is a round-up of the main developments in the world today.
1. WHO recommends Eli Lilly, GSK-Vir drugs, expanding 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 like the fast-propagating Omicron variant makes many ineffective. WHO data shows that Omicron, which escapes the protection provided by many vaccines and therapies, has been identified in 149 countries.
Thursday’s panel strongly recommended Lilly’s baricitinib, sold under the brand name Olumiant, for patients with severe Covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids, while conditionally endorsing GSK-Vir antibody therapy for patients non-severe with the highest risk of hospitalization. So far, GSK-Vir monoclonal antibody therapy is the only one to be shown to be effective against Omicron in laboratory tests, while similar treatments from Eli Lilly and Co and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals offered less protection in such tests
2. Pakistan passes controversial budget bill
Pakistan’s National Assembly on Thursday passed the controversial (supplemental) finance bill, also known as the “mini-budget”, despite stiff resistance from opposition parties. The bill to raise taxes and give more power to the central bank was tabled on December 30 by the government fulfill a key condition of the International Monetary Fund approve $ 1 billion under the $ 6 billion extended financing facility.
The opposition claimed that additional taxes would hurt the already overwhelmed masses, while the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021, which was also passed along with the Finance Bill, would make the bank powerhouse stronger than the government and function as it pleases.
3. Last year was the sixth hottest on record in the world, according to American scientists
Last year ranked as the sixth hottest year on record, causing extreme weather events around the world and adding to the evidence that the globe is in a long-term warming trend, according to an analysis released Thursday by two US government agencies. Data compiled by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA also revealed that the past eight years have been the warmest eight and the past decade has been the warmest since the start of the record keeping in 1880, officials said.
The 2021 warming occurred despite La Nina’s presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, a cooling trend that generally lowers global temperatures. Last year’s extreme heat wave in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, heavy rains from Hurricane Ida and flooding in Germany and China were linked to global warming, the agencies said.
4. Prince Andrew of the UK loses royal and military ties
Prince Andrew had its military ties and royal patronages suppressed Thursday and will no longer be known as “His Royal Highness,” Buckingham Palace said, as Queen Elizabeth’s son battles a US lawsuit in which he is accused of sexual abuse.
Andrew, 61, Duke of York, was forced to resign from public office in 2019 due to his ties to US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and after a disastrous BBC TV interview which the prince had hoped to erase his name. The royal family’s move on Thursday means he will now lose all of his royal connections.
5. Blinken Says US Is Working On Havana Syndrome After Diplomats Sick In Paris, Geneva
The United States still does not know what disease known as Havana syndrome is or who is responsible for it, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Thursday after other US diplomats were reported ill in Paris and Geneva. Blinken said the entire federal government is working to shed light on the disease, which has afflicted around 200 American diplomats, officials and family members abroad.
“To this day, we don’t know exactly what happened and we don’t know exactly who is responsible,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday additional illnesses among officials serving in U.S. diplomatic missions in Paris and Geneva, where the United States and Russia held security talks on Monday over strengthening Moscow’s troops near the Ukrainian border.