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CIUDAD DE MÉXICO, 22 jul (Reuters) – China ofreció el miércoles un crédito de 1,000 millones de dólares para apoyar el acceso de los países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe a una vacuna contra el COVID-19 una vez esté lista, dijo la cancillería mexicana en un comunicado.

Además, el país asiático se comprometió a que la vacuna desarrollada en su territorio sea “un bien público de acceso universal”, en momentos en que la pandemia en la región no cede y los contagios sobrepasaron los cuatro millones.

Los anuncios fueron hechos luego de una reunión virtual entre el canciller chino, Wang Yi, y sus homólogos de Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, México, Panamá, Perú, República Dominicana, Trinidad y Tobago y Uruguay.

“El canciller chino destacó que la vacuna desarrollada en su país será un bien público de acceso universal y que su país destinará un préstamo de mil millones de dólares para apoyar el acceso de las naciones de la región al antídoto”, dijo la cancillería mexicana en un comunicado.

Más de 150 vacunas están siendo desarrolladas a nivel global con el objetivo de ayudar a poner fin a la pandemia que ha causado más de 616.000 muertes alrededor del mundo. Pero aún está por verse si alguna de ellas tendrá éxito.

Datos iniciales de los ensayos de tres potenciales vacunas contra el COVID-19, incluida una de la empresa china Cansino Biologics, aumentaron la confianza en que el antídoto puede entrenar al sistema inmune para luchar contra el coronavirus sin efectos secundarios graves.

Sin embargo, la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS) ha dicho que el descubrimiento de una vacuna es apenas el primer paso y que es de vital importancia garantizar su acceso, sobre todo a los países más desfavorecidos y golpeados por la pandemia, como los latinoamericanos.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico will cautiously reopen beaches, restaurants, churches, malls and hair salons next week under strict new rules as the U.S. territory emerges from a two-month lockdown that stifled business activity on an island already beset with economic woes.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced Thursday that most businesses will reopen on Tuesday, but a 7 p.m-to-5 a.m. curfew will remain in place until June 15. All people will be required to wear a mask when outside or inside a business, regardless of what they are doing.

“Puerto Rico is facing a new way of life,” she said. “It’s the right time … We have flattened the curve.”

Many Puerto Ricans, including business owners, cheered the highly anticipated announcement. Health experts warned that the government has not tested enough people or conducted enough contact tracing and is not prepared for a possible spike in new infections.

Puerto Rico’s Health Department has reported more than 2,900 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 126 deaths, and dozens of additional infections still emerge every day. Officials do not regularly update statistics, including how many people have been tested or how many have recovered. Until recently, the island had a lower per-capita testing rate than any U.S. state.

Mónica Feliú-Mójer, spokeswoman for CienciaPR, a nonprofit group of Puerto Rican scientists who seek widespread testing, said she was concerned that the government’s data did not show that COVID-19 is under control.

Vázquez said the restricted reopenings will protect people but also provide desperately needed economic relief on an island hit by hurricanes and earthquakes. The resumption of some normal activities also comes as the government restructures some of its more than $70 billion public debt load after declaring the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in 2015.

Restaurants will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity. Hair salons and barber shops will welcome clients by appointment only. People doing exercise, such as surfing, jogging, swimming or kayaking, will be allowed at the beach from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Stores and malls will be allowed to reopen but under limited capacity, and people will be prohibited from trying on clothes, among other restrictions.

“You will not be allowed to stroll the halls like before,” the governor said. “There will be lanes … We have to be disciplined.”

Businesses that will remain closed for now include gyms and movie theaters, and all arriving flights are limited to Puerto Rico’s main international airport.

Economist José Caraballo said that the lockdown, one of the strictest in any U.S. jurisdiction, has caused estimated economic losses ranging from $6 billion to $12 billion. The unemployment rate has spiked to an estimated 40% on an island of 3.2 million people with a poverty rate of more than 40%, higher than any U.S. state.

Unlike in the aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Irma and a recent string of earthquakes, Puerto Ricans cannot move to the U.S. mainland because of the pandemic, Caraballo said in a phone interview.

“They are desperate,” he said. “The usual escape valve, which was migration, is closed.”

Delays in the distribution of local and federal aid have also deepened the financial struggles of many Puerto Ricans affected by the natural disasters and the government’s ongoing bankruptcy-like process, which has led to austerity measures.

“The government’s inefficiency has caused the social crisis we have right now,” Caraballo said.

Public schoolchildren and those seeking pandemic unemployment assistance have been especially hurt by the pandemic.

The government kept school cafeterias shut for almost two months, opting to offload its food to nonprofits and a local food bank, where it quickly ran out. That forced some teachers to buy food for their students with their own money.

In addition, some 90,000 people applied for pandemic unemployment assistance when the funds became available on April 28, but an online system crashed. It was not until Thursday that the government said that the first 50,000 people began receiving payments. It’s unclear when the remaining applicants will receive the money.

Some business owners did not feel like celebrating much.

Hair stylist Anabel Fuentes said she lost up to $8,000 during the lockdown and now has to look for a more affordable place to rent since she cannot accept as many clients.

“The financial problems will persist, and might even worsen and lead to bankruptcy,” she said. “Nothing will be the same.”

An experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in very early testing, triggering hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers

Study volunteers given either a low or medium dose of the vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. had antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

In the next phase of the study, led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, researchers will try to determine which dose is best for a definitive experiment that they aim to start in July.

In all, 45 people have received one or two shots of the vaccine, which was being tested at three different doses. The kind of detailed antibody results needed to assess responses are only available on eight volunteers so far.

The vaccine seems safe, the company said, but much more extensive testing is needed to see if it remains so. A high dose version is being dropped after spurring some short-term side effects.

The results have not been published and are only from the first of three stages of testing that vaccines and drugs normally undergo. U.S. government officials have launched a project called “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a vaccine and hopefully have 300 million doses by January.

Worldwide, about a dozen vaccine candidates are in the first stages of testing or nearing it. Health officials have said that if all goes well, studies of a potential vaccine might wrap up by very late this year or early next year.

More than 4.7 million infections and 315,000 deaths from the coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide since it emerged in China late last year. There are no specific approved treatments, although several are being used on an emergency basis after showing some promise in preliminary testing.

A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection.

Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York, researchers reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Although the study is observational rather than a rigorous experiment, it gives valuable information for a decision that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients have already had to make without clear evidence about the drug’s risks and benefits, some journal editors and other doctors wrote in an editorial.

“It is disappointing that several months into the pandemic, we do not yet have results” from any strict tests of the drug, they wrote. Still, the new study “suggests that this treatment is not a panacea.”

President Donald Trump repeatedly urged the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is used now for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It has potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned against its use for coronavirus infections except in formal studies.

Doctors at Columbia tracked how 565 patients who did not get the drug fared compared to 811 others who received hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, a combo Trump also has touted.

In all, 180 patients required breathing tubes and 232 died, and the drug did not seem to affect the odds of either.

Patients given hydroxychloroquine were generally sicker than the others, but widely accepted methods were used to take that into account and still no benefit was seen for the drug.

Its use started within two days of admission for nearly all who received it. Some critics of earlier studies have said treatment may have started too late to do any good.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, which has launched two of its own trials comparing hydroxychloroquine to placebo — the gold standard for establishing safety and effectiveness.

One study involves COVID-19 patients, and the other aims to see whether the drug can help prevent infections in health care workers exposed to the virus. Both got started in April.

BOSTON (AP) — Centenarians have always been a rare breed. Now they’re an endangered species.

The 100-plus crowd — those most venerable of human beings — is succumbing rapidly and heartbreakingly to the coronavirus pandemic. Entire limbs are being lopped off family trees, and their wisdom and lore are dying with them.

“We’ve been really upset,” said Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University who directs the New England Centenarian Study. “We’re seeing a higher rate of people passing away … cutting these incredible lives shorter.”

“For families, they’re the pride and joy, the anchor, the link to the family’s history. They’re a huge big deal,” he said. “If you have a healthy centenarian who’s cognitively intact with no signs of Alzheimer’s, to me they’re practically immortal. COVID has interfered with that formula for sure.”

Reliable estimates of the numbers of centenarians who have perished in the pandemic are elusive, primarily because most state and government health agencies tracking deaths lump them into an 85-and-older demographic. That age bracket has seen more deaths than any other, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the COVID-19 Tracking Project and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But anecdotal evidence, including newspaper and online death notices, suggests that COVID-19 is exacting a grim toll among the estimated 70,000 centenarians in the U.S. In tiny Rhode Island alone, at least eight people aged 100 or older have died, public health officials say.

Carrie Hoza of Northfield, Illinois, lost her 101-year-old grandmother, Norma Bratschi Hoza, to COVID-19 this month.

Born in 1919 to a mother who survived the deadly 1918 influenza pandemic, Bratschi Hoza married her childhood sweetheart, went to business school and helped found the family’s plumbing business. When three neighborhood boys close in age to her own three sons were orphaned, she took them in and raised them as her own.

“She lived a beautiful life, with kindness and goodness in her heart,” said Hoza, 46. “She always believed that hatred was toxic and forgiveness was the best way to live. She was an absolute gem.”

Remarkably, some centenarians have recovered from COVID-19. Against all odds, 103-year-old Ada Zanusso battled back after being hospitalized in the northern Italian town of Lessona, crediting “courage and strength, faith” for her rebound.

You don’t become a century old without some inherent toughness and genetic good fortune. An otherwise healthy 100-something, experts say, may be more likely to recover than someone who’s 60 and obese with underlying health issues.

But many of the very oldest of us are faring poorly in the pandemic. People who survived world wars, polio, the Great Depression and the Holocaust aren’t beating this.

“They’re people who are rock-solid citizens,” said Neenah Ellis, a former National Public Radio producer in Yellow Springs, Ohio, who interviewed many for her bestselling book, “If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians.”

HOUSTON (AP) — Más personas morirán a causa del coronavirus en los centros de detención de inmigrantes en Estados Unidos a menos que el gobierno del presidente Donald Trump mejore rápidamente las condiciones de las instalaciones y libere a más detenidos, advirtieron abogados y defensores de migrantes el jueves, luego de que se confirmara el primer deceso por COVID-19 de un detenido.

Una querella enviada al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional incluye las experiencias de 17 personas que afirman que se les negó su liberación a pesar de que en algunos casos sufren de padecimientos que aumentan el riesgo en caso de contagio. Entre ellas se encuentran un hombre en remisión tras padecer cierto tipo de cáncer conocido como linfoma folicular y una mujer con prediabetes.

Carlos Ernesto Escobar, un salvadoreño de 57 años, falleció el miércoles en el Centro de Detención Otay Mesa en San Diego, donde se encuentran 132 de los 705 migrantes detenidos por el Servicio de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas de Estados Unidos (ICE por sus siglas en inglés) que han dado positivo a COVID-19, la enfermedad causada por el coronavirus.

El ICE indicó que ha realizado pruebas de diagnóstico a 1.460 detenidos y mantiene a poco menos de 30.000 personas en detención.

De acuerdo con un representante de su familia, Escobar era diabético y fue conectado a un respirador después de contraer el virus en el centro de detención.

El ICE señaló que ha liberado a más de 900 personas consideradas de alto riesgo. En un comunicado, la agencia detalló que ha escalonado los periodos para comer y de recreación a fin de respetar las normas de distanciamiento social y aislar tanto a quienes tuvieron contacto con alguien con la enfermedad como a los detenidos que apenas llegaron a las instalaciones.

Una coalición de grupos que incluye a la organización American Immigration Council y la Asociación Estadounidense de Abogados de Inmigración presentó la querella el jueves, en la que se subrayan las persistentes acusaciones de que a los detenidos no se les ha proporcionado equipo de protección, suministros de limpieza ni se les da el espacio adecuado para mantener un distanciamiento social.

Katie Shepherd, una abogada de American Immigration Council, dijo que la muerte de Escobar era evitable y culpó al ICE por “una pérdida sin sentido de la vida humana”. Shepherd exhortó al ICE a acelerar la liberación de personas en sus centros y ofrecer más equipo de protección personal a los detenidos.

“Sabíamos que esto iba a ocurrir. Sólo era cuestión de cuándo”, afirmó Shepherd. “Pero temo sobre cuántas muertes más habrá”.

Personas detenidas en Otay Mesa han reportado que se les han negado cubrebocas a menos que firmen una exención que evita que responsabilicen a CoreCivic, la compañía que opera el centro de detención privado, en caso de que contraigan el virus dentro de las instalaciones. Una vocera de CoreCivic negó que se estén reteniendo los cubrebocas, pero sostuvo que el formato original para requerir la firma ha sido retirado.

Un hombre detenido en otras instalaciones de CoreCivic, el centro de detención de Houston, describió en la querella que se le entregó un documento similar de exención, el cual firmó “para evitarse problemas con los agentes”.

El hombre también alegó que los custodios no les brindan jabón suficiente para ducharse, ni les han entregado guantes de uso diario cuando los detenidos limpian sus celdas. Dos detenidos en las instalaciones de Houston han confirmado que en el lugar hay casos de personas con COVID-19.

La versión del hombre no pudo ser verificada de manera independiente. La portavoz de CoreCivic, Amanda Gilchrist, rechazó que a los detenidos no se les esté brindando jabón y agregó que los custodios repartieron una botella de 60 ml. (dos onzas) a cada persona y dieron botellas adicionales de forma gratuita.

En la mayoría de la gente, el nuevo coronavirus provoca síntomas leves o moderados que desaparecen en dos a tres semanas. En algunas personas, sobre todos los adultos mayores y las que padecen trastornos de salud subyacentes, puede provocar enfermedades más graves, como la neumonía, e incluso la muerte.

San José. Las autoridades de Costa Rica anunciaron este jueves que se ha logrado secuenciar el genoma del coronavirus SARS CoV 2, que causa el Covid-19, lo que favorecerá el estudio de su comportamiento en el país y brindará información útil para posibles tratamientos y vacunas.

El trabajo estuvo a cargo del estatal Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa), que por primera vez en la historia del país consigue secuenciar el genoma de un virus humano, explicó en una videoconferencia de prensa la directora del instituto, Lissette Navas.

Por su parte, el coordinador del Laboratorio de Genoma del Inciensa, Francisco Duarte, dijo que “esto nos da ventajas en cuanto a salud pública” y que “conocer la secuencia ayuda a saber si el virus presenta mutaciones o cambios en el tiempo”.

Esta información también puede ser útil para desarrollar vacunas contra el virus, para conocer la dinámica y la diversidad de la población viral, las rutas de transmisión en el país, y para robustecer las capacidades de análisis para la red nacional de laboratorios. Otras ventajas son que se puede mejorar la calidad de los diagnósticos en el país y realizar la vigilancia genómica viral sin depender del envío de muestras a otros países.

El procedimiento se realizó a partir de seis muestras de pacientes diagnosticados como positivos. Dos de los genomas obtenidos se acercan a los genomas obtenidos de muestras analizadas en Estados Unidos y los otros cuatro se ubican dentro de los conglomerados constituidos por cepas de virus encontradas en diferentes partes del mundo, indicó el Inciensa.

Los resultados fueron sometidos a la plataforma Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (Gisad), que es utilizada de manera global, para compartir este tipo de información, por lo que está disponible para la comunidad científica mundial.

Este es uno de los trabajos a nivel científico que está desarrollando Costa Rica para hacer frente a la pandemia del Covid-19. Otros trabajos son el del Instituto Clodormiro Picado de la estatal Universidad de Costa Rica, que busca crear un suero a base de plasma de pacientes recuperados para el tratamiento de pacientes graves; así como una investigación que desarrolla el Centro Nacional de Innovaciones Biotecnológicas (CENIBIOT) con el fin de elaborar pruebas propias para la detección del virus.

Los datos oficiales del Ministerio de Salud indican que en Costa Rica, desde la aparición del primer caso en el país el pasado 6 de marzo, se han confirmado 719 casos positivos, de los cuales 6 han fallecido y 338 ya han sido declarados como recuperados.

En la actualidad hay 16 personas hospitalizadas, de las cuales 9 están en unidades de cuidados intensivos.

Costa Rica no ha ordenado una cuarentena generalizada, pero sí ha cerrado parcial o totalmente diversas actividades económicas. Desde mediados de marzo Costa Rica cerró sus fronteras al ingreso de extranjeros, suspendió el curso lectivo y eventos masivos, y además mantiene cerradas las playas, los parques, los parques nacionales, los bares, las discotecas y los casinos. Está vigente una restricción para la circulación de vehículos por franjas horarias y por número de placa.

Los restaurantes, tiendas y otros negocios pequeños pueden operar a un 50% de su aforo y con estrictas medidas de salud, mientras que los supermercados y las farmacias están abiertos pero con reglas higiénicas y para evitar la aglomeración.

La curva de casos activos viene en descenso, por lo que el Gobierno ha comenzado a permitir, con limitaciones, algunas actividades que estaban prohibidas como los gimnasios, centros de entrenamiento deportivo y los salones de belleza.

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