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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Trump halts funding WHO - Germany accused US of modern piracy in masks !

It started in Wuhan a few months ago and has spread everywhere .. .. do you know that China is not in the top 5 in terms of no. of people killed by the dreaded virus.  United States tops the list, followed by Italy, Spain, France & United Kingdom !

US President Donald Trump has now  halted funding to the World Health Organisation over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, drawing condemnation from infectious disease experts as the global death toll continued to mount. Trump, who has reacted angrily to criticism of his administration’s response to the worst epidemic in a century, has become increasingly hostile towards the WHO. The Geneva-based organisation had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak than otherwise would have occurred, Trump said. “The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump told a White House news conference on Tuesday.

Nearly two million people globally have been infected and more than 124,000 have died since the disease emerged in China late last year, according to a Reuters tally. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump’s criticisms of the WHO, especially its “unfathomable” support of re-opening China’s “wet markets”, where freshly slaughtered animals are sold and where the coronavirus first appeared in the city of Wuhan late last year.

In Europe, carmakers initially seemed little inclined to support hospitals, medical workers and the health industry to cope with the consequences of COVID-19. By the looks of it, it’s mainly the OEMs headquartered in a highly affected country that are starting to do something for the community – or at least communicate about it.  The first OEM to speak out was FCA. Italy being the country with the most victims and the highest need for support and FCA playing an important societal role as one of the country’s largest employers, it only seems logical they should do something. On March 19, the Italian carmaker said it was in talks, together with Ferrari and Magneti Marelli, with the nation’s biggest ventilator manufacturer (Siare Engineering) to help boost the production from just 160 machines per month today to 500 in a few months’ time.

Now that France sees the COVID-19 numbers rise dramatically, PSA is making great efforts in collaboration with Valeo and Schneider Electric to help Air Liquide Medical Systems increase ventilator production by building components. By the middle of May, some 10,000 units should be produced.  In Spain, Renault workers are using 3D printers to manufacture visors for health workers from home. SEAT has converted part of its Leon factory in Martorell to produce simplified automated ventilators using windscreen wiper motors, gearbox shafts and gearbox housings. The ventilators were designed by a team of engineers and are now undergoing final testing before approval is given for mass production.  In Belgium, the Audi factory is working together with the Brussels VUB University to develop a similar solution. A prototype developed by the university’s FabLab robotics division is currently being assessed for approval and could already be built by Audi later this week. Support is also given by Volvo's Ghent factory, even though not officially so. It goes without saying that these devices are less advanced than conventional ventilators, but they are able to do the job for patients who need assistance in breathing but are not in the most critical of conditions.

Meantime, a number of European governments have rejected Chinese-made equipment designed to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of testing kits and medical masks are below standard or defective, according to authorities in Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands. On Saturday, the Dutch health ministry announced it had recalled 600,000 face masks. The equipment had arrived from a Chinese manufacturer on 21 March, and had already been distributed to front-line medical teams. Dutch officials said that the masks did not fit and that their filters did not work as intended, even though they had a quality certificate.  Spain’s government encountered similar problems with testing kits ordered from a Chinese company. It announced it had bought hundreds of thousands of tests to combat the virus, but revealed in the following days that nearly 60,000 could not accurately determine if a patient had the virus.

The Chinese embassy in Spain tweeted that the company behind the kits, Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, did not have an official license from Chinese medical authorities to sell its products. It clarified that separate material donated by the Chinese government and technology and retail group Alibaba did not include products from Shenzhen Bioeasy. Allegations of defective equipment come after critics warned China could be using the coronavirus outbreak to further its influence.

On a different note, a few days ago, furious Germany accused US of 'modern day piracy' after 200,000 3M face masks - destined for Berlin - were intercepted at Bangkok Airport and flown to America instead - as France claimed Donald Trump was offering 'cash on the tarmac' for medical kits.   It was a case of shipment of 200,000 FFP2 and FFP3 masks were made by the US company 3M which has a factory in China. They were on their way to healthcare workers in Berlin but the masks never arrived. Instead, German officials allege the protective equipment was intercepted at Bangkok Airport and instead flown to the US. 'We consider that an act of modern piracy,' Berlin's interior minister Andreas Geisel blasted.

A spokesperson for Berlin police later  clarified that the masks were bought at a higher price by a mystery buyer in Thailand - and their whereabouts is unknown.  The dispute came after the White House condemned 3M for producing face masks for overseas countries instead of focusing solely on the US.  The leader of the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, also accused unidentified Americans of swooping in with cash at the last minute to secure shipments already promised to French buyers.

Shipping company Geodis was responsible for the organisation of 16 flights by two chartered cargo planes, reported World Cargo News. A senior US official on Thursday rejected allegations from French politicians that Americans had accroached the French shipment during the coronavirus crisis, calling the stories 'completely false.'

~ World Trade – and reaction to Corona .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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