From one COVID death every 17 seconds in Europe to the UK’s new green plan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says one person is dying from COVID-19 every 17 seconds in Europe as concerns grow the continent’s health systems could be overwhelmed if stricter measures are not implemented.

Related: How should the world be warned of global health emergencies?

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled a new 10-point plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’ which the British government says will create up to 250,000. The plan has drawn a mixed response from environment groups, with plans to boost investment in nuclear power drawing particular scrutiny.

Related: The key areas of Boris Johnson’s ‘green industrial revolution’

 

Pharmaceutical giant Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5%, the second vaccine candidate to claim an efficacy rate above 90% after Pfizer and BioNTech announced similar results for their vaccine last week. Though both vaccines have shown positive results, health experts say Moderna’s results are potentially more promising as it can be stored at much warmer temperatures than Pfizer’s which could make distribution much easier.

Related: Scientists race to find ‘warm’ Covid vaccine to solve issue of cold storage

 

Public health groups are urging policymakers to commit a portion of their COVID-19 vaccine supplies to a ‘humanitarian buffer’ that would be used to vaccinated people living in ‘rebel-held territories, those in asylum-seeker camps and others unlikely to receive vaccinations from their governments.’

Related: Opinion: How the pandemic exposes power imbalances in global supply chains

 

The British government is looking to slash billions from its overseas aid budget, with plans to cut the aid budget from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5%. Experts had anticipated the cuts to the aid budget given the economic impact of COVID-19, but reducing it to 0.5% would mark a major shift in policy and would potentially require an act of parliament if the government intends to make the cut.

Related: FCDO to become ‘reserved’ department, will not be hiring foreign nationals

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to commit to maintaining UK overseas aid spending at 0.7% of GDP during a debate over proposed increases to the UK’s defence budget, fueling speculation the UK is planning to make cuts to the aid budget.

Related: Boris Johnson urged to commit to aid budget after defence boost

 

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says the number of refugees resettled in safe countries will hit a record low in 2020, with just 15,425 refugees resettled at the end of September of this year compared to a figure of 63,726 in 2019.

Related: UN issues $100m emergency funding and calls for global effort to avert famine

 

As US president-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January, his transition team is making plans to ensure the climate crisis is prioritised across the federal government, drafting executive orders to reduce planet-warming pollution and seeking nominees who will embed climate policy across all federal departments.

Related: Biden may help US-UN relations. But there isn’t a magic wand to undo damage.

 

New research published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) shows 19 of the top 20 climate funding recipients for water programs between 2000 and 2018 were middle income countries with Bangladesh the only lower-income country in the top 20.

Related: Is climate finance diverting from development assistance?

 

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has announced nearly USD $800 million in grants from his Bezos Earth Fund to some of the US’s most prominent environmental organizations, including USD $100 million each to the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Related: Countdown to COP26: What are the development sector’s priorities?

 

The G-20 group have agreed a debt framework to help countries pursue debt restructuring or forgiveness.

 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has declared an end to its 11th Ebola outbreak nearly six months after the first cases were reported, marking the first time the country has been Ebola-free in roughly two and a half years.

 

As the world marks World Toilet Day, WASH experts say the climate crisis is intensifying the global sanitation crisis and the sector needs more support and funding in response.

Related: Q&A: Léo Heller on 10 years of the human right to water

 

UN observers say the Trump administration is spending its final days deepening the US’s isolation from the rest of the world on social and health issues, including a vote where the US cast the sole vote in favour of its own amendment on a resolution on efforts to treat medical complications from childbirth, with 153 votes against and 11 abstentions.

 

Women’s health charity Marie Stopes International has announced it is changing its name to MSI Reproductive Choices in an effort to distance the organisation from its founder’s views on eugenics and interracial marriage.

Related: MSI Reproductive Choices: The story behind the new name