BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will begin bilateral negotiations with Russia for the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, a source told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that any final deal is up to Russia providing the European Medicines Agency (EMA) with key data. .
The European Commission told EU member states’ health ministers on Wednesday that Brussels does not plan to initiate talks with Russia on an initial contract for Sputnik V as it does with other vaccine providers, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity. .
That is why German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced during a virtual meeting that Germany would initiate preliminary negotiations with Russia on a bilateral agreement to secure a vaccine, the source added.
In initial talks, Germany would first like to determine how much Russia could deliver and when, the source said.
After all, Germany will only buy Russian vaccines once approved by the EMA and for this it is imperative that Russia provide the necessary data, the source added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Bavarian prime minister said German territories would buy 2.5 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine if approved by the EMA.
Markus Soeder, prime minister of the wealthy southern German state, said the purchase would be made in July.
Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Written by Michael Nienaber; Edited by Paul Carrel and Kirsti Knolle
SAO PAULO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Last December, when doctor Victor Heitor Gomes became director of health for Rafard, a municipality 150 km northwest of São Paulo, he knew he faced challenges ahead.
The only clinic in the city of 9,000 has weathered tough times: heavy rains in mid-November caused part of the conference room walls to collapse and a month later more rain inundated parts of the building, including the operating room and public areas.
The problem forced the clinic to move some services to another room – and repairing a one-meter hole in the meeting room wall had to be postponed due to continued rain in Brazil’s summer.
Heavier rains and increasingly scorching temperatures have made life difficult for doctors in other ways too, said Gomes.
“They change the season for certain diseases. “You don’t expect to see dengue fever in winter, but it’s becoming more and more common now,” he said.
Extreme weather, such as the floods that swept through the Maria Tereza Apprilante Gimenez Primary Health Care Unit in Rafard, is increasingly becoming a region-wide threat as climate change continues – and creates additional burdens for health workers struggling to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Pan American Health Organization, nearly 70% of the 18,000 hospitals in Latin America and the Caribbean are located in areas highly prone to flooding, major earthquakes or hurricanes.
Inundation is the most common threat. Nearly 550 floods hit the region in the two decades between 2000 and 2019, affecting more than 40 million people and causing nearly $ 26 billion in damage, according to a 2020 report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
Brazil is the most flood-prone country in Latin America, the report said.
The storm that hit Rafard also worried nearby São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil and in South America.
The concrete-filled urban area acts as a “heat island” that absorbs and then slowly releases solar heat, making it hotter than the surrounding rural areas.
In cities like São Paulo, that extra heat combines with the moisture coming from the nearby Atlantic Ocean to create heavier rains, said Tércio Ambrizzi, an atmospheric scientist at the University of São Paulo.
“Heat lifts and condenses moisture, making it rain,” often more intense than is possible elsewhere, said the scientist, who co-authored a 2020 study of changing rainfall patterns in metropolitan São Paulo between 1930 and 2019.
Using data from Brazil’s National Meteorological Institute, the researchers found that heavy rains become more concentrated in shorter periods, while dry seasons are longer.
The changes have been very visible over the last decade, they said.
In 2014, Sao Paulo’s hottest summer in seven decades, reservoir water for the city fell below 20% capacity, in a record of the city’s biggest water crisis and a serious threat to health care facilities.
Very heavy rainfall events – the kind that can trigger disasters – have nearly doubled in the last decade compared with 1971-1980, the researchers found.
Extreme conditions are most visible in Brazil’s southern and southeastern regions, and are a particular problem for densely populated cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, which are particularly prone to flooding and landslides in part due to poor urban planning, Ambrizzi said.
Eduardo Trani, sub-secretary of the environment for the state of Sao Paulo, said his office was aware of the challenge.
A 2009 law passed by the state establishes policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate threats, including efforts to map climate risk in all 645 cities in the state.
Nearly 250 have been completed so far.
“This mapping is adapted to an environmental scale, so that the local town hall can study preventive measures to deal with floods and landslides,” said Trani.
So far the results found are that basic health care units, especially in the metro area of São Paulo, are often in flood-prone areas or are surrounded by them.
That can be partially mitigated with infrastructure changes, such as building flood walls around hospitals and moving vulnerable ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems to higher ground, resistance experts say.
Having spare resources – including solar panels or other renewable energy – can also keep hospitals functioning when the broader power system goes down in extreme weather.
Mariana Silva, infrastructure and sustainable finance specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, says building resilience is also a planning issue for the next few decades.
“If a hospital is to be built in a place that is very prone to disasters, we have to ask ourselves what we can change in terms of the technique. You’d be surprised how small changes can make a project resilient, “he said.
A design shift could add to costs – but ignore the risk that it would be more expensive, he said.
“Making that change costs extra – but now Latin American governments know that climate change is not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’ problem,” he said.
Reporting by Meghie Rodrigues; editing by Laurie Goering: Appreciation to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity. Visit news.trust.org/climate
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Preliminary data from a study in Brazil suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China Sinovac Biotech Ltd is effective against the P1 variant of the virus first discovered in Brazil, a source with knowledge of the study told Reuters on Monday. .
The source, who did not provide details, said the study had tested the blood of people vaccinated against the Brazilian variant virus. Coronavac, as Sinovac injections are called, is the main vaccine currently used to inject people in Brazil.
Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Written by Stephen Eisenhammer; Edited by Bill Berkrot
RAPOSA SERRA DO SOL, Brazil (Reuters) – Irisnaide Silva is female, Brazilian and native.
And for once, in her sight, she was heard.
For decades his family selected and panned the border near Venezuela, scouring the hills for diamonds and gold.
They continued digging even after Brazil marked the land in 2005 as indigenous territory, an act that banned mining despite protests from his family and other wildlife in his Macuxi tribe.
Now, Silva is none other than the ear of Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil.
A nationalist who deeply resents the global green movement for his desire to develop the Amazon rainforest, Bolsonaro has twice met Silva in the Brazilian capital.
He first saw him, along with several like-minded tribal leaders, soon after taking power in January 2019 discussing a bill that would allow mining on native land.
“Some people want you to stay on indigenous territories like prehistoric animals,” Bolsonaro said at the meeting. “Below the ground you have billions or trillions of dollars.”
Silva, 32, heads one of the two main indigenous groups in the Amazon state of Roraima. But other groups, and many other indigenous associations, see him as traitors manipulated by greedy intruders seeking to seize land and resources.
He doesn’t care.
“I’ve been called a white Indian,” Silva told Reuters of the chicks chirping in his steel-roofed home in the Raposa Serra do Sol reserve. Although his mixed-race background was unusual, critics used it to question his credibility.
“Others say I can’t lead because I’m a woman.”
His drive for development – and Bolsonaro’s desire to activate it – goes far beyond questions about mining and material wealth. It challenged decades of government policies trying to deter intruders and sparked a historical debate over whether some of the world’s most isolated tribes should be integrated into modern society or left alone, along with the Amazon.
Larger than Western Europe and home to nearly all of Brazil’s indigenous lands, the world’s largest rainforest is a bulwark against climate change, its vegetation serving as a giant filter for greenhouse gases.
The native land makes up 13% of Brazil – a protected area roughly the size of Egypt. But with indigenous people making up less than 0.5% of Brazil’s population, agricultural and mining groups have long watched this low-population area voraciously.
It is unclear whether Bolsonaro’s bill will pass the tough Brazilian Congress or how profitable mining is on this land. But the timing has never been more favorable for the president, with allies recently winning leadership in both assemblies and the COVID-hit economy desperately in need of investment. Bolsonaro has made the bill a priority for 2021.
By working with several indigenous people, activists say he is exacerbating tensions within tribes through division and conquest methods that have historically helped destroy native lands around the world.
“Bolsonaro is using a colonial strategy,” said Antenor Vaz, a former veteran field agent for Brazil’s customary affairs agency Funai.
‘NEW EL DORADO’
The prospect of legalization has led thousands of prospectors to venture into indigenous territories.
The Bolsonaro bill lays down a regulatory framework to open up this area to legal mining for the first time. Controversially, it will not give indigenous peoples veto power.
Many indigenous communities continue to lead rural lifestyles, pursuing little modern development beyond small-scale agriculture. But Silva and people like him believe that natives have the same rights as other Brazilians to exploit their resources.
The state of Roraima, with a small mining industry due to its large reserves, is already attracting investors. Anastase Papoortzis, head of state development company Codesaima, told Reuters the company had 29 exploration permits in indigenous territories and would attend a mining fair in Canada this year.
“It’s been set for us to go and present Roraima as a new mining frontier, the new El Dorado,” he said.
Lust for treasure, and the destruction it causes, has shaped this northern part of the Amazon basin since the Europeans arrived in the 18th century. Early maps even place El Dorado, the legendary city of gold, somewhere between green hills and scarred purple stone.
Since then the seekers have come.
In the 1950s, Silva’s grandfather arrived from northeast Brazil to try his luck. He married a local Macuxi woman and started a family. Silva Celson’s father, now 68, has been out digging with his father since the age of eight.
Silva was also looking forward to his childhood, but only during the holidays because his father insisted he stay at school, walking three hours a day to attend class. “I’m still mine sometimes,” she said, “but it’s bad for my nails.”
In the 2000s, when he finished school and was trained to become a teacher, indigenous factions competed over how to protect their homeland. The struggle at Raposa Serra do Sol has become a symbol of the Brazilian debate on indigenous policies.
While the larger Roraima Adat Council (CIR) wants sustainable nature reserves that remove outsiders from the area, Silva’s Society for the Defense of the United Indians of Roraima (Sodiurr) believes peasants should be allowed to stay, defining tribal areas as islands in around them. property.
Sodiurr argues that rice and cow farmers, who moved there in the previous decades, brought jobs and development.
After April 15, 2005, when the government ratified the Raposa Serra do Sol as a sustainable nature reserve, many farmers resisted eviction. Sporadic attacks on indigenous enemies raged for several years, injuring more than a dozen people.
‘THERE WILL BE BLOOD’
Silva didn’t fight, but it did inform his politics.
After a tenure as a city councilor, he won the leadership election of Sodiurr in 2019 and amplified his pro-development, pro-integration message. As he put it: “Nobody here wants to walk around with their sobs.”
He has expanded their social media presence and aligned organizations with right-wing state and federal governments.
Membership has also increased, according to Silva. Seven communities have changed allegiance, leaving CIR to join him, while eight others are in conversation, he said. There are about 350 indigenous communities in the state.
Edinho Batista de Souza, a CIR leader, said he was not aware the community was changing sides.
“The presidency (Sodiurr) does not speak the same language as the people,” he told Reuters. “The government is trying to manipulate some of the leaders, including the president, but the bases don’t agree with this idea.”
Although Sodiurr’s membership is less than half the CIR, smaller organizations now have support in Brasilia.
“It’s an old problem, but they used to be in the minority, now they have the President of the Republic … now they are in power,” said Marcio Meira, a former head of Funai who worked closely with both sides during the demarcation.
Funai, responding to a Reuters question, said he did not know the size of each group or how they might change. He declined to comment on the competition, other than saying it did not condone violence.
Bolsonaro’s agenda appears to trigger change before a vote on his mining bill.
Near Napoleao, a customary town of 1,200 people in the mountains south of Raposa Serra do Sol, workers sweat from dawn to dusk, cutting deep into the rocks.
Some have pneumatic workouts, but most chase purple veins with only muscles and pickaxes. Miners of wood from the rock face, bent under the lucky sack.
The “mountains”, as the five feral cat mines are known, have been running since July 2019. It has driven the change that Silva so desperately wants.
The city gets 4% of mining profits, according to Carpejane Lima, 38, the town’s traditional leader and ally of Silva. The diggers took 74% and those with the machines to extract gold took the last 22%.
“The power company has cut off electricity because we can’t pay the bills,” said Lima, in the shade of a mango tree. Now a cavalry of diesel generators is turning next to the general store which is reopening. Across the street, there is a stand selling replica soccer shirts.
“We can make this a prosperous city,” said Lima, a 48 gram gold bracelet gleaming on her wrist.
But mining brings in outsiders. Some tribes have the skills or capital needed to crush and process ore. This arrival, say critics, brought drugs, prostitution and disease. Mercury, which is used to separate gold, also appears at alarming levels in the blood of some indigenous people.
Since Bolsonaro was elected, CIR said 2,000 miners had trespassed on Raposa Serra do Sol to work on mines like this. Silva emphasized that only the native wild in the country.
In a hole by the river near Silva’s house, where his father lived under a tarp for weeks, a small group dug in the scorching sun.
“We will fight for what is ours,” said Celson. “If people who don’t belong come here to try and stop us, there will be blood.”
Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Additional reporting by Leonardo Benassatto; Edited by Brad Haynes and Andrew Cawthorne
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s 5 Star Movement, once the prototype for successful populist and anti-establishment parties across Europe, is at a crossroads. Is it fully embracing the political mainstream, or turning back to being an outsider?
With support dwindling, his fate could shape Italian politics for years to come, and the battle lines for his future have been drawn.
When the head of state asked the former head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi on February 2 to try to form a government, and end the Italian political stalemate, the 5-Star leadership immediately shelved its support.
But its founder, 72-year-old former comedian Beppe Grillo, had other ideas. Four days later, he was rushing from his home in Genoa to attend a crisis meeting in Rome with some 30 top 5-Star MPs.
At a meeting in a conference room in the capital’s labyrinthine Deputy Chamber, he explained that the original 5-Star decision had to be overturned, according to a lawmaker present.
“When we walked in Grillo was pretending to be talking to someone on the phone; It’s a kind of comedy act, ”said the source, who declined to be named because the meeting was closed. “He’s discussing … why we should be part of the government.”
Some 5-star politicians and voters were very unhappy with the demands imposed by Grillo.
At Draghi’s first parliamentary vote on Wednesday, 23 of 92 5 Star senators opposed the party line and refused to support him. The interim leader of 5-Star Vito Crimi said most of them would be expelled.
If the 5-Star emerges from its crisis further weakening or turns into a mainstream progressive party, it could mark the end of the populist wave that swept through Italy in the last election and which worries financial markets and its European partners.
Matteo Salvini’s league has shifted out of the right flank to get behind Draghi.
In some ways, 5-Star follows a similar trajectory to other populist parties in Southern Europe such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.
The three of them attain strength, but have been absorbed into the mainstream they vow to fight and watch their support wither.
“I don’t know what to call us now. Maybe an anti-establishment party ?, ”5-star lawmaker Raphael Raduzzi told Reuters. “We have to ask ourselves what we want to be.”
Grillo gave up day-to-day involvement in 5-Star affairs some five years ago, but when the big decisions had to be made, he was still the one to decide.
Shortly before his meeting with 5-star lawmakers, he wrote a blog post calling on the new government to appoint a transitional ecology minister with full responsibility for energy policy.
Grillo has spoken with Draghi and received assurances that this ministry will be created in exchange for 5-Star support, a source close to the 5-Star founder told Reuters.
Grillo, who communicates with the public primarily through his blog, declined to comment for this article.
Draghi’s spokesman confirmed Grillo and Draghi were talking about forming a government.
“They agreed on the importance of creating a government with a strong emphasis on ecological transitions,” he said.
Ecology has always been a central part of the 5-Star platform. It is one of the five “star” policies from which it takes its name. Sustainable transportation is another.
Italy, unlike Germany and France, has never had a successful Green party and Grillo is looking at the loophole in hopes of saving his party from gradual extinction.
Huge numbers and high aspirations were involved. The European Commission has ordered that policies to fight climate change should cover 37% of the Recovery Fund set up to help the bloc’s hard-hit economy, its single largest component.
In Italy’s case, that means 70 billion euros ($ 85 billion) to spend on the green transition over the next six years.
“Now the environment. Whatever it takes, “Grillo tweeted this week in the style of Draghi’s Andy Warhol, referring to the former ECB chief’s famous pledge in 2012 to do” whatever it takes “to save the euro.
The 5 star is the biggest force in parliament thanks to its victory in the 2018 election when it won 33% of the vote, double the tally of its closest rival.
It now has less than 15%, making it the fourth largest party in Italy, and is in dire need of a new identity.
He has four ministers in Draghi’s newly formed cabinet, but for many members, supporting the government of the former head of the ECB is unacceptable. Doing so in coalition with sworn enemies made matters worse.
Founded in 2009 as a channel for protest against alleged corruption and the cronyism of Italy’s political and business elite, 5 Bintang supports internet-based direct democracy and vows never to form alliances with traditional parties.
In the past three years it has ruled in two coalitions, with center right and left, and is now set to rule with both at once.
“For me this is a step too far,” said Raduzzi, the lower house deputy who opposes joining the technocrat government and career politician.
A LEADER OF THE FUTURE?
Raduzzi did not leave the party, unlike one of its most popular figures – Alessandro Di Battista – who frequently wrote articles attacking Draghi or members of his government.
Di Battista, a charismatic 42-year-old man, left after the decision to support Draghi, but his followers expect him to return when the time is right and see him as a future leader.
The battle for the future of the 5-Star will most likely be contested over the opposing visions of Di Battista on the one hand and Grillo on the other.
Grillo, for now in the driving seat, wants to turn 5-Star into a neighborhood, pro-EU party allied with the center-left Democrats to compete with Salvini’s right-hand bloc.
Di Battista wants 5 Stars to avoid structural alliances with the left and regain his old anti-establishment fervor, with a more critical attitude toward the EU and big business.
“I believe this government is committing suicide for the 5 Star Movement and bad for Italy,” Di Battista told Reuters. He did not rule out a return to 5 Star rank in the future.
The risk of the 5-Star, currently in the hands of the uncharismatic Criminal, is that whatever path the party takes, at the next election in 2023, its decline is irreversible.
The slump in 5-Star support is hardly surprising, given that they are also the anti-establishment party in government. Without enough seats in parliament to govern itself, the movement also joins either the left or the right.
Unlike the left-wing Syriza and Podemos, or the right-wing National Rally in France and the Austrian Freedom Party, the 5-Star has always presented itself as an ideological free movement with voters from the left and right alike.
Some political commentators believe that the best chance of a revival lies with former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who has no party affiliation but is close to a 5-Star.
The message Conte posted on Facebook on his final day as prime minister received more than a million likes, a record for an Italian politician. He vowed to “continue the path” of his 16-month, left-wing rule in the future.
Millions of 5-star voters, and some of his politicians, expect him to do so as their leader.
($ 1 = 0.8275 euros)
Written by Gavin Jones; Edited by Mike Collett-White