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How are States Addressing Racial Equity in COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts?

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Introduction

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues and expands to larger segments of the population, early KFF analysis of state-reported data raise concerns about disparities in vaccinations for Black and Hispanic people. Ensuring equitable access to the vaccines will be important to mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic for underserved populations, prevent widening disparities going forward, and achieve broad population immunity. The Biden administration’s national COVID-19 response strategy outlines equity as a key priority, including as part of vaccine distribution efforts. Some states have also emphasized equity as a priority in their vaccine distribution plans and, in some cases, have taken responsive action to address disparities in vaccinations revealed by early data.

This brief reviews information available through state websites and publicly available vaccine distribution plans as of February 2021 to provide greater insight into how states are addressing equity through vaccine allocation and distribution strategies, outreach and communications efforts, and data collection and reporting. The review seeks to provide a snapshot and examples of state efforts in these areas. However, this review does not provide a fully exhaustive summary of all state actions, and given the rapidly evolving nature of state vaccination efforts, it may not reflect the latest developments in state approaches. Beyond the state-level strategies highlighted in this review, efforts to advance equitable access to the vaccines are also underway at the city and county level, among health systems and providers, and in the private sector. Moreover, the federal government is implementing a range of approaches to expand vaccine access and uptake — including direct distribution through community health centers — with a particular focus on reaching underserved areas and communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Vaccine Allocation and Distribution

Where and how people can sign-up for and access vaccines has direct implications for who will receive them. People living in underserved and disproportionately affected areas may face increased challenges accessing vaccines due to more limited resources available to navigate online sign-up systems, lack of transportation, and other access challenges. States are employing a range of strategies to increase the availability and accessibility of vaccines for disproportionately affected areas and people.

Some states are allocating additional vaccine doses to enhance vaccine supplies in underserved and disproportionately affected areas. About half the states indicated in their vaccine distribution plans that they planned to use the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) or similar indices to inform their vaccine allocation strategies. States varied in the level of detail they provided in their plans on how they would use these resources to inform their allocation approach, although some states have provided more specific implementation details. For example, in December, Governor Baker of Massachusetts pledged to allocate 20% additional vaccines to communities with high social vulnerability to help address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on people of color. New Hampshire has indicated that it will reserve 10% of its vaccine supply for allocation to communities that have been hard hit by the pandemic. Connecticut reports providing an additional roughly 10% of the state’s allocation to areas that have high vulnerability based on the SVI. North Carolina also reports allocating additional doses to counties with larger older populations and historically marginalized populations. They indicate that vaccines will be invested into projects and events that promote increased access and partnerships in the community, with a particular focus on achieving equitable access to the vaccine. California will begin reserving 40% of vaccines for residents in the most disadvantaged areas of the state.

Some states are prioritizing vaccine appointments or eligibility for certain groups or areas. In response to early data showing gaps in vaccinations in certain wards of the city, Washington DC changed its vaccine appointment system to prioritize people living in these low-income, underserved areas. Residents in these wards are given the opportunity to register for vaccine appointments 24 hours before they become available to people living in other areas of the city. California provided codes that would provide access to vaccine appointments to community organizations that were intended to be distributed to people living in largely Black and Hispanic communities, although media reports pointed to problems with the initial rollout of this approach. Rhode Island has taken a different approach of prioritizing eligibility for broader groups of residents in certain geographic areas that have an increased risk for COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, including Central Falls and certain other areas of the state. Montana and Utah include people of color in their initial vaccine priority groups. With Montana vaccinating American Indians and people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications in Phase 1b, and Utah including people living in Tribal reservation communities and racial/ethnic groups at increased risk in Phase 1c.

Nineteen states have established call centers or provided text options to facilitate access to vaccine appointments for people who may not be able to navigate online sign-up systems. For example, Mississippi and Alabama have set up vaccine appointment scheduling hotlines for residents who cannot or do not want to use the web-based booking programs. In Maryland, the Departments of Health and Aging collaborated to create a telephone-based support line and appointment system designed to assist those without internet access. Connecticut is working with the United Way to provide a call center to schedule appointments that is available 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. However, many states have also encountered initial challenges with this approach, due to overwhelming demand. For example, New Jersey opened up a phone line to schedule vaccine appointments, but it was quickly stretched beyond its initial capacity. Some states are using text-based approaches to provide notifications of when appointments become available. Oklahoma is piloting a text-based notification system that sends second dose appointment updates to individuals who have registered for the vaccine through their scheduling portal.

Some states are deliberately locating vaccine clinics in underserved or disproportionately affected areas. For example, Tennessee is partnering with pharmacies and community health centers to add more than 100 vaccination sites, with a particular focus on rural and underserved areas. Colorado has outlined several strategies to increase the accessibility of vaccines, including partnering with counties to host community clinics, establishing community partnerships to reach communities of color, and coordinating with transportation providers to assist people without vehicles in getting to appointments. The state has also established a goal of having vaccines available through a community-based clinic in “50% of the top 50 census tracts with a high-density of low-income and minority communities.” Alaska is using an Area Deprivation Index to identify areas to provide targeted efforts to ensure equitable access to the vaccine through partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers and other community and locally-led organizations. While placing vaccine clinics in underserved or disproportionately affected areas can make vaccines more accessible to people living in areas, location alone will not necessarily ensure access if people face barriers completing sign up processes, and appointments are taken by people living in other areas. As such, prioritizing or reserving appointments for people living in those areas is also important.

Outreach and Communications Strategies

In addition to ensuring individuals can access the vaccine, making sure people receive clear information that explains how and when they can obtain the vaccine and addresses any concerns or questions they have about the vaccine also is important. Moreover, it is key for this information to be provided in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways through trusted messengers.

Some states are collaborating with and supporting community-based organizations and health centers to conduct outreach, communication, and education. For example, Massachusetts launched a targeted outreach initiative through which the Department of Health will invest resources directly into the 20 cities and towns most impacted by COVID-19 to increase awareness of vaccine safety and efficacy by working with local leaders and community- and faith-based groups. The state has also invested $1 million in the Massachusetts league of community health centers to provide grants to health centers to assist in engaging patients and community members in vaccination discussions and increase vaccination rates in the states’ hardest hit communities. The state of Washington has Community Outreach Services Contracts with several community-rooted organizations and groups to assist with COVID-19 vaccine outreach and makes investments in community/ethnic media outlets and community based organizations for community-driven messaging efforts. Colorado announced it is working to schedule more than 175 vaccine equity clinics across the state in partnership with community based organizations, local public health agencies, and Tribes, with community organizations playing a key role in providing outreach to their community members and registering people for appointments.

Many states are launching their own vaccination communications campaigns, often with a focus on reaching people of color and other groups who may face heightened barriers to vaccination. As part of its GoVAX outreach campaign, Maryland launched a mobile public health education unit—or sound truck—to provide information about COVID-19 prevention and vaccination availability in Spanish and English in selected neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the virus. Volunteers will also distribute informational flyers and face masks at designated stops. In Ohio, health officials are hosting virtual town halls that will be replayed weekly on television to tackle COVID-19 vaccine myths. The town halls are focused on addressing questions and concerns of Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and rural residents. In addition to these outreach efforts, all states provide information through public-facing websites to address questions and concerns about the vaccine. For example, many prominently feature frequently asked questions (FAQ) sections that address common questions.

Most state websites include information clarifying that the vaccine is available for free, although the information is not always highlighted prominently. Some states highlight this information up front. For example, North Carolina clarifies that the vaccine is available for free to all who want it on its landing page for vaccine information (Figure 1). Similarly, Minnesota includes this information in the FAQs listed on its “vaccine basics” page. Clarifying that people can receive the vaccine at no cost regardless of insurance status is important for facilitating equity, as recent survey data show that Black and Hispanic adults have heightened concerns about potentially having to pay out-of-pocket costs. Possibly, even more important is whether vaccine providers clarify that the vaccine is available at no cost and ensure people are able to sign up for appointments without providing insurance information.

Figure 1: Examples of State Website Information Clarifying the Vaccine is Available for Free

Fewer state websites clarify that individuals are eligible for that vaccination regardless of immigration status and/or that obtaining the vaccine will not negatively affect immigration status. Clarifying this information can help address fears and confusion that could present barriers to vaccination among immigrants. For example, Rhode Island clarifies that undocumented immigrants are eligible for vaccination and that information will not be shared with immigration authorities (Figure 2). In Massachusetts, they emphasize that the vaccine is free for all Massachusetts residents, and that health care providers may request reimbursement from the federal government to cover the administrative costs of providing vaccines to undocumented immigrants.

Figure 2: Examples of State Websites Clarifying Immigrant Eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccine

Figure 2: Examples of State Websites Clarifying Immigrant Eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccine

All websites provide options to access information in different languages, but they vary in how they provide this access. Some states solely utilize google translate or similar translation software; others provide translated materials through downloadable resources, in some cases linking to translated materials provided by CDC. However, recent reporting finds that many vaccine registration and information websites at the federal, state, and local levels violate disability rights laws, hindering the ability of blind people to sign up.

Data Collection and Reporting

Collecting and analyzing COVID-19 vaccination data by race/ ethnicity is integral to gaining insight into who is and is not receiving vaccines and can be used to direct resources and efforts to address disparities as they are identified.

As of March 1, 2021, 41 states are publicly reporting COVID-19 vaccination data by race and/or ethnicity. While most states are reporting data, the quality, completeness, and timeliness of the data vary widely across states, which affects its usefulness. For example, as of March 1, 2021, in Minnesota and Washington D.C., race/ethnicity information was missing for over 40% of vaccinations, while North Carolina reported less than 1% as missing race/ethnicity information. States also vary in the extent to which they disaggregate data to allow an understanding of the experiences of specific groups. For example, Florida groups people who report their race as Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or other into a single “Other race category.” In contrast, other states, like Maine, disaggregate data separately for racial and ethnic groups. Very few states report vaccination data by race/ethnicity and other demographic factors like age or gender. However, South Carolina and Washington provide data in these more detailed ways, allowing for a more nuanced understanding of who is being vaccinated that can inform efforts to address gaps.

Several states have taken actions designed to increase the completeness of race/ethnicity data. For example, North Carolina and Texas are requiring vaccine providers to collect race/ ethnicity data. Texas is updating its immunization registry system so that race and ethnicity must be entered to complete the data entry process. Michigan added a hand-entry field into their registry system to collect race and ethnicity data since the system had not previously collected this information. In addition, Virginia added language to its website to encourage individuals to report demographic data and clarifying how the data will be used (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Example of State Website Information on Importance of Reporting Demographic Data and How Data Will Be Used

Figure 3: Example of State Website Information on Importance of Reporting Demographic Data and How Data Will Be Used

Conclusion

In sum, early data pointing to racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations underscore the importance of intentional efforts focused on ensuring equity as the vaccine rollout continues. As highlighted in this brief, a number of states included a focus on equity in their vaccine distribution plans and are taking responsive action to try to address emerging disparities through vaccine allocation and distribution approaches, outreach and communications strategies, and data collection and reporting. Continued monitoring of data to understand who is and is not receiving the vaccine will be important for gauging the effectiveness of these approaches; and will help guide ongoing efforts to prevent and reduce disparities as distribution continues.

As noted, beyond the state-level strategies highlighted in this review, efforts to advance equitable access to the vaccines are also underway at the local level, among health systems and providers, and in the private sector. Moreover, at the federal level, the Biden administration has outlined equity as a key goal of its national COVID-19 response strategy, including as a part of vaccine distribution efforts. To that end, it has established a COVID-19 Health Equity task force; indicated plans to work with states to incorporate equity into their vaccine distribution processes; is taking steps to expand vaccine availability in underserved areas through federally-supported vaccination centers and allocations of vaccine doses directly to community health centers and retail pharmacies; is launching and vaccination communication plan; and is focused on expanding data collection and reporting. The American Rescue Plan Act includes additional funding that will further enhance these approaches.

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Source: https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/how-are-states-addressing-racial-equity-in-covid-19-vaccine-efforts/

Covid19

AllStar Health Brands Announces Updates on Covid Testing Initiatives

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Miami, FL, April 2, 2021 – OTC PR WIRE — AllStar Health Brands Inc. (OTC Pink: ALST) (“AllStar Health” or the “Company”), a specialty pharmaceutical and nutritional supplements company, is pleased to update current and prospective shareholders on the status of the Company’s ON-Going Business Operations including Covid-19 testing Initiatives in several countries.

“As a Distributor for TPT Medtech, we are continuing to work in other countries including South Africa with the goal of introducing the ‘QuikPASS’ and ‘QuikLAB’ systems to offer definitive testing solutions in these countries,” stated Dr. Bagi, CEO of AllStar.

AllStar is a Distribution partner for TPT MedTech products and services in Jamaica. BayWest Wellness Center in Jamaica has contracted with TPT MedTech to utilize its “QuikPASS” and Check & Verify Passport technology systems at the Montego Bay Airport to verify that individuals have been tested to leave the county of Jamaica.  Baywest Wellness secured the Covid 19 testing contract with the Montego Bay Airport in February 2021 and executed its technology deal with TPT MedTech in February as well.

About AllStar Health Brands

AllStar Health Brands Inc. is a Nevada Corporation established in 2017, and headquartered in Miami, Florida. AllStar is a specialty HealthCare Products Company dedicated to improving health and quality of life by offering select, nutritional supplements, over the counter remedies, and medicines all across the Americas and Europe. AllStar’s goal is to bring additional products to the market and provide new, innovative options for better health and wellbeing.

For more information, please contact Investor Relations at (305) 423 7028.

Safe Harbor Statement

Statements about the Company’s future expectations and all other statements in this press release other than historical facts, are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby.

The above information contains information relating to the Company that is based on the beliefs of the Company and/or its management, as well as assumptions made by any information currently available to the Company or its management. When used in this document, the words “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plans,” “projects,” and similar expressions, as they relate to the Company or its management, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect the current view of the Company regarding future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, including the risks and uncertainties noted. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated, expected, intended or projected. In each instance, forward-looking information should be considered in light of the accompanying meaningful cautionary statements herein. Factors that could cause results to differ include, but are not limited to, successful performance of internal plans, the impact of competitive services and pricing and general economic risks and uncertainties.

SOURCE: AllStar Health Brands Inc.

Public Relations
EDM Media, LLC
https://edm.media
(800) 301-7883

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Source: https://otcprwire.com/allstar-health-brands-announces-updates-on-covid-testing-initiatives/

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Enerkon Solar International (ENKS) Names New Board and Scientific Committee Members and Announces New FARA Filing in support of Commercial Aspirations

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New York, April 1, 2021 – OTC PR WIRE – Enerkon Solar International (OTC PINK: ENKS) Names New Board and Scientific Committee Members and Announces today New FARA Filing in support of Commercial Aspirations in North Africa and other Important Updates regarding the new SARS2-COVID 15 Second “Insta-Test”.

ENKS Chairman Mr. Ballout stated that since the company Nominated a New Scientific Committee and Board Members this week, the company issue the first name selections today which are:

  • Senator Roberto Lario Rodriguez (Ret.) – (El Salvador) Advisory Bord Member for South and Central America
  • Dr Ibrahim El Nattar – (Egypt) Advisory Board Member for Renewable Energy in Africa
  • Dr Mark Schutz – Bioscience – (MD 0- USA), Graphene and Passive Immunity and Medical Advisory Board member
  • Michael Vishmidt (Israel/Ukraine) – Scientific Advisory Board Member for New Technology and Research
  • Dr Vasily Muraveynik, (Ukraine) – New Biomedical Science Advisory Board Member
  • Isaac Ray (Cal. USA) Special Scientific Advisor for Industrial Emission Suppression Technology
  • Nural KARAVELİOĞLU – (Turkey) – Consulting Board Member for Renewable Energy, Hydrogen and Government Relations”
  • Omar Mabruk Ilhayam (UK) – Advisory Board Member on Commerce and Energy for North Africa (Libya – Egypt – Algeria – Morocco – Tunisia) supporting Solar – Hydrogen – Energy Industry new Technology Transfer / Commercialization

Mr. Ballout Commented: “Our Great New Scientific and Regional Advisory Board will enhance Shareholder Value through supporting growth and expansion of ENKS and its Diverse Holdings – CVs and other information will be posted on the company website this week as well as other information on new opportunities and expansion plans.”

ENKS is comprised of 6 (Since the Sale of East Africa Unit to AL Fada Equity Holdings Last week)  -Companies, including corporate wholly or majority owned divisions – Corporate information for each will be posted on the company website for ease of search as some shareholders or investors have mentioned it was difficult to locate some of the data online, causing the possibility for others posting wrong or misleading information online –  therefore the company shall post additional legal documents and status information on line for all to have access”

Mr. Ballout Stated: “The company is proud of its New commercial relationship with companies and government personalities in Libya and Today, we have added an additional Statement of Registration with the US DOJ FARA National Security Division Agency for our work with the new, UNSMIL backed Government of Libya – This in support of our Compliance requirements for disclosure and in furtherance of our commercial aspirations in North Africa, related to Renewable Solar Energy, Hydrogen and other Commercial Interaction with the Region and in pre opposition to any Fake news, state clearly that the company has NO signed contracts with the government yet while we are hopeful that we will in the near future either via commercial entities or PPP structures we have for North Africa”.

“A technical call remains scheduled, with the new ChNPP director regarding the Chernobyl Special Exclusion Zone technical points and contents of this call which will be video recorded will explain better to the general public what Solar,  Co-Generation is (the use of Solar Power (about 500 MW or less to Power Electric Steam Boilers which in turn are planned to supply the pressure needed to drive the 3 Turbine Electric generators on the ChNPP Site whereby each generator has a tolerance of nearly 1 Gigawatt – and further auxiliary power from the solar array will power a 50 and later a 100MW Electrolysis Driven Green Hydrogen Plant to supply buyers of Green Hydrogen. The company, has already received expression of interest letters from German, Green Hydrogen Buyers and we shall post these letter(s) on the company website in coming days as well.”

Additional Support for the Modernization of the Ukraine Metals industry, will entail plans for Titanium Production and mining modernization – and Carbon Anode Sourcing for their Aluminum Industry – including Graphite Electrodes for their  Steel Industry modernization plans in the future (a letter from the Vice Prime minister of Ukraine regarding our cooperation on the Titanium Industry has already been received by the company some weeks ago – expressing appreciation and explaining the many jobs and social benefits of such cooperation to future development in Ukraine.

ENKS will Name a New Auditor Next Week once the File is Opened and Started for our last two years and current year Audit – in addition it is noted that this Auditor shall be retained on a continuous basis for all quarterly and Annual Reports in support of compliance requirements upon our planned up listing – this information will be added to the OTC Disclosures Site Page under Professional Service Providers (Auditor).

NEWS: Regarding the SARS2-COVID 15 Second “Insta-Test” device already produced for clinical trials and approvals (Owned by Graphene Leaders Canada and Distributed by KrowdX who has co sales agreements with the Coviklear International Holdings (UK) Unit Purchased before last week.

Mr. Ballout Stated:“ Great strides have been made in the development of the project supporting the commercialization of the SARS2-COVID Graphene Nanotech Based – 15 second “Insta-Test” – this being owned by GLC Canada and Distributed by KrowdX of Montreal – We are pleased to update that Pre Orders are due in very soon from ENKS /Coviklear partners abroad for the benefit of Krowdx and GLC to fulfill upon and after FDA Approval which is expected very soon (within just weeks as clinical trials of the already produced pre-production device is near completion during the next 10 days or so. – The Market for this device to Governments world wide cannot be understated, as it is the fastest test so far in the world and uses a much superior testing system, which takes only 15 seconds maximum time and uses a novel nanotech graphene biosensor to accomplish the amazing feat so fast, with such accuracy, (estimated at more than 97+ Percent) – Covillear Parent company  – ENKS also is in final talks with DGI in New York, for Financial Support to guarantee order fulfillment – supply chain management and other administrative support where needed, if asked to help, by the Owners and Distributors – This being our expression of confidence, as while we have already spent $5 Million USD to purchase Coviklear in a Debt Equity Swap before last week we are ready to engage much greater amounts of capital from our third party financial resources to support Factoring Order Fulfillment – Purchase order finance and other tools that may support the commercialization world wide for this groundbreaking disruptive Technology. It is noted that this is NOT a PCR test, and it does NOT use Reagents, or any chemicals whatsoever, its is based on electrical impedance using Nano Tech Graphene substrate, to send analysis to the device output at a very fast and high rate of efficacy – being far superior to PCR and similar tests, including all other DNS/RNA Tests – The test is NON-Invasive and safe.”

GLC Medical Inc. – Insta Test Initial Version

GLC Medical Inc. – Insta Test Updated Version

Governments and related PPPs / NGOs and others have expressed serious and immediate interest in ordering this new device which is now a reality, minus only its EUA (Emergency Use Application Green light at the FDA/HC and WHO) and this includes the KrowdX proprietary SES and STS solution for Airports – Sea Ports, Land Borders and other access and entry points between cities states provinces and otherwise to regain control of the Pandemic and free the world´s population again.

These details will be released by the Distributor KrowdX /Covikear, as they mutually agree, in the coming days/Week(s).

“Needless to say, the market value for this new device and technology is absolutely enormous, subject only to the contingencies mentioned above and we are absolutely excited about it all.”

“Stay Tuned for more updates on all of these new developments during the coming days and week(s)”

Lastly:

The Company expect to name an Auditor as previously mentioned above, during late next week if all goes well, in the company cost and – time – to – completion negotiations, going on now.

“Loyal ENKS Shareholders, are the ‘ENKS ARMY’, and the company will always support their best interests working to enhance shareholder value and steady growth.”

The foregoing statements are forward looking statements, and as such, they may or may not reflect the results which could transpire in the future which should be negative or not transpire at all due to circumstances or other reasons and investors, shareholders, or others should not rely on these forward-looking statements to ascertain any value if any of ENKS or to make any investment decisions and to take note that this is not an offer to buy or sell securities or an endorsement of ENKS for investment purposes as all investment carry a risk of loss sometimes a total loss of your investment in Micro cap shares markets or any market and therefore such statements or plans should not be relied upon for any business decisions of any kind – Approval and permissions required by federal regulations may or may not be approved and if not approved may result in the loss of all value and all investments in products requiring such regulatory permissions to market and sell. These statements are made as forward-looking statements for educational purposes only in accordance with the rules and regulations which pertain to the same.

Enerkon Solar International Inc.

www.enerkoninternational.com

info@enerkoninternational.com

New HQ Address in New York at:

Enerkon Solar International Inc

477 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10022 USA

Tel. +1 (877) 573-7797

Tel. +1 (718) 709-7889

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Source: https://otcprwire.com/enerkon-solar-international-enks-names-new-board-and-scientific-committee-members-and-announces-new-fara-filing-in-support-of-commercial-aspirations/

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Blockchain

Qtum Partners with Vaccine Forward to Boost Global COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

QTUM

The blockchain platform Qtum has announced the partnership with Vaccine Forward to help the fundraising initiative to raise vaccines for distribution to over 92 countries. The goal of the partnership is to raise $2 billion to speed the vaccination process through some of the world’s poorest countries, with the Qtum Chain Foundation committing to match […]

The post Qtum Partners with Vaccine Forward to Boost Global COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts appeared first on Blockonomi.

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The blockchain platform Qtum has announced the partnership with Vaccine Forward to help the fundraising initiative to raise vaccines for distribution to over 92 countries.

The goal of the partnership is to raise $2 billion to speed the vaccination process through some of the world’s poorest countries, with the Qtum Chain Foundation committing to match the total number of vaccines raised by Vaccine Forward.

Vaccine Forward is a Swedish-based initiative aiming to fight this inequality having raised over 12k vaccinations ever since its start and has now looked for the support of the blockchain and crypto industry in collaboration with Qtum Chain Foundation, which has provided half of the total vaccinations.

Elisabeth Thand Ringqvist, Vaccine Forward founder, referred to the partnership by stating:

“As a grass-roots organization, Vaccine Forward is proud to receive the biggest donation so far, effectively doubling the amount of raised vaccinations, from 6 000 to 12 000 with Qtum’s donation. We are also very happy for Qtum’s challenge to the Blockchain-space at large to do the same.”

The organization depends on private and corporate donations to make it possible to help countries who need the vaccines to ensure the health of their citizens, which are distributed via the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).

Soon, donors will also be able to contribute to this mission by making donations using cryptocurrency directly on Vaccine Forward’s website, facilitating the process for people around the world who might not be able to donate with fiat otherwise.

Crypto As a Tool for Equality

While developed countries have moved forward with vaccination efforts, countries with poor economies and strong political relationships have struggled to vaccinate their citizens, creating a high level of inequality among a pandemic that affects all countries equally.

One of the pillars of the crypto movement on its inception and till this day has been to provide people around the world with access to financial services and platforms without the need for centralized authorities having power over them, which has made crypto a lifeline for residents of countries under extreme poverty, dictatorships, or economic sanctions.

Cryptocurrency has been used by organizations like AirTm to help citizens from countries like Venezuela to receive economic assistance from people abroad by bypassing legal sanctions and economic restrictions placed by their country and foreign governments, highlighting some of the benefits of decentralization.

Similarly, projects designed to allow charities to receive donations from interested parties have also become increasingly popular in the crypto ecosystem, which has proven to be invaluable for charities over the last years.

Qtum Co-Founder, Jordan Earl, referred to the potential the industry has to help the transition out o the pandemic by saying:

“We hope that we can inspire our industry to do the same and also match Vaccine Forwards fundraising to help in the effort of vaccinating people who need it the most. We at Qtum are global problem solvers with an open platform and therefore, I think the grass-roots organization Vaccine Forward is an amazing solution to a complex global problem.”

The Qtum Ecosystem Continues to Grow

Qtum has experienced increasing success over the past year, which has not only been reflected by its cryptocurrency’s gain in value but also by the expansion of its ecosystem.

The most recent news came in the form of an announcement of its commitment to provide Filecoin with smart contracts capabilities through the Qtum network, something that while not only benefits users of the platform but also Qtum itself as part of its portfolio controls about 10% of Filecoin’s mining power.

Great Options for New Markets

Qtum is also looking into launching NFT support to compete against networks like Ethereum by offering lower prices, which has been an increasing pain for projects running on the Ethereum network.

With major networks like Cardano, Polkadot, and Ethereum getting closer to the release of their next updates, Qtum is looking forward to becoming a major competitor in the growing crypto ecosystem.

The network’s coin, QTUM, has gained over 700% in value over the last year according to Coingecko data, with a 90% over the last month which has seen most of the big projects in the crypto market go through a bearish trend.

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Source: https://blockonomi.com/qtum-partners-vaccine-forward/

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France Imposes 3rd National Lockdown As COVID-19 Again Surges

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Young people gathered Wednesday by the Seine River in Paris, largely without masks and without social distancing. French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered the country into a third lockdown because of the continued spread of COVID-19. Eleanor Beardsley/NPR hide caption

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Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

PARIS – Calling the new, faster-spreading variants of the coronavirus “an epidemic within the epidemic,” French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday extended a lockdown to the entire country and closed schools through the end of April.

In a televised address to the nation, Macron said a “more dangerous, contagious and deadly” virus surging in France left him no choice.

“If we are choosing to close down the whole country it’s because no area of the country is spared,” Macron said. “Everywhere the virus is spreading faster and faster and everywhere, hospitalizations are rising.”

Gatherings inside and outside are also banned and people will not be allowed to travel more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from their homes. Macron said unlike the first confinement last spring, people who leave their homes will not have to fill out a form with the time, date and purpose of their outing. “We are choosing to have confidence in people’s sense of responsibility,” he said.

“Everyone has to make sure not that they close themselves in, but that they limit, to the maximum, their contacts, meetings and time spent with others,” said Macron.

The president’s announcement was entirely anticipated. France’s intensive care units are at capacity with more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients health officials say, and hospitalizations have already surpassed the second wave of this past winter. They are on track to surpass even the first deadly wave of last spring.

Over the weekend, several dozen emergency room doctors signed an open letter in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, warning that if something is not done, hospitals would soon have to begin choosing which patients receive treatment. “We cannot remain silent without betraying our Hippocratic oath,” they said.

Jacob Kirkegaard, who studies health care systems as a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund, says the new strains of the virus are forcing countries to step up their public health measures. Britain, Germany and Italy are also in various forms of lockdown.

“When COVID cases in a country are suddenly much more contagious, the lockdowns need to be adjusted and made much tougher,” he said.

Kirkegaard said vaccinations in France have not yet increased to a level which would make a difference in transmission. Thirteen percent of the French have received one dose of a vaccine. Only 4% have been fully vaccinated. But Macron said the pace of vaccination would go faster very soon.

“We are putting all our means behind vaccinating, vaccinating, vaccinating,” he said, “on Saturday and Sunday just like during the week.” Macron said some 250,000 health professionals – doctors, pharmacists, veterinarians and fire fighters – will be involved in the massive vaccination effort across the country.

Over the last few warm, spring days, the banks of the Seine River in Paris have looked a lot like Venice Beach, Calif., with young people working-out and sunbathing, their masks under their chins. Macron said there will be patrols enforcing restrictions on alcohol consumption in public and plenty of fines given. Bars and restaurants have been closed since last fall.

Doctors say COVID-19 patients in France’s ICUs are younger and younger, often without any underlying health problems. Macron said 44% of patients in intensive care are younger than 65.

The country’s Scientific Council, which advises the government on measures to combat the virus, called for a strict lockdown in January. Macron defended his decision not to lock the country down then, saying people had benefitted from “precious weeks of liberty.”

But he said the accelerating pandemic propelled by new variants meant France had to set a new course for the coming months.

Writing of the gravity of the situation this week in the newspaper Libération, Patrick Bouet, president of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, called on Macron to institute stricter measures. “The virus is winning and we have lost control of the pandemic,” Bouet said.

France is now approaching 100,000 coronavirus deaths. “That’s the equivalent of wiping the city of Nancy from the map,” wrote Bouet.

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Source: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/31/983157525/france-imposes-3rd-national-lockdown-as-covid-19-again-surges

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