EU’s hypocrisy on human rights exposed in COVID-19 vaccine scuffle

EU’s hypocrisy on human rights exposed in COVID-19 vaccine scuffle

Pandemic exposes the real defender of human rights is China: observers

By GT staff reporters
Published: Mar 25, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine scuffle between the EU and Western pharmaceuticals is not over yet. The latest move marks Brussels’ plan to up the ante on control over the export of vaccines outside the bloc, stopping shipments to countries like the UK which have seen higher vaccination rates.

When humanity is still threatened by the pandemic that has already claimed more than 2.74 million lives and when 130 countries are still waiting for vaccines, Western countries have engaged in an “all for itself” vaccine war by slapping on export controls and even intercepting vaccines that pass by their countries, said Chinese observers.  

Yet those so-called defenders of human rights wasted no time in echoing the US’ formation of a “human rights alliance,” and wielded sanctions against China, when the latter is devoted to guaranteeing fair global distribution of vaccines. In terms of self-interest, the fact itself speaks louder than words regarding who is the real defender of human rights and who are merely using it as an excuse to achieve their own political goals. 

The European Commission set out a proposal on Wednesday that would give the bloc’s governments more powers to block vaccine exports. The proposal is mainly aimed at the UK, who has imported millions of doses from the bloc but hasn’t exported any.

The EU, which lags behind the rich countries’ club in terms of vaccine inoculation, is under pressure to boost its sluggish vaccination campaign. Such eagerness has propelled the bloc into a months-long scuffle with pharmaceuticals over supply shortages. EU leaders would discuss the export ban regime in talks on Thursday.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa receives his first dose of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The country recently received two deliveries of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines donated by China. Zimbabwe is one of a dozen African countries to receive Chinese-made vaccines. Photo: VCG

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa receives his first dose of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The country recently received two deliveries of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccines donated by China. Zimbabwe is one of a dozen African countries to receive Chinese-made vaccines. Photo: VCG

“Brussels’ scrambling for vaccines has exposed their hypocrisy on human rights issues. What they really care about is the lives of Europeans, not the lives of others,” Chang Jian, director of Nankai University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Chang said the EU’s vaccine fight contrasts sharply with its “caring face” on the Xinjiang affairs.

Early this week, the EU imposed sanctions on China over the so-called human rights issues in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which were soon hit back at by China’s more “fierce and timely” sanctions. 

Other Western countries, such as the US, UK and Canada, soon followed suit with the EU.

It took a pandemic to rip off the US-led Western society’s “hypocritical coat” in the name of human rights, especially when those Western governments’ failed response to the pandemic has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands in their countries domestically, and their fight for vaccines has taken away chances for other developing countries to inoculate their people, Chang said, noting that pointing fingers at China’s human rights issues only exposed the true purpose of those Western countries, which is to “weaponize” human rights to serve their own political aims. 

In early March, Italy blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccines destined for Australia after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its EU contract commitments. 

Later, AstraZeneca requested permission from the Italian government to export the vaccines but it was rejected by the Italian government with the European Commission supporting its decision. In a move to justify its decision, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said that “As long as these [vaccine] delays remain, it is right for the countries of the European Union to block exports to nations that are ‘not vulnerable’.”

In February, a senior official from the Biden administration, who often criticizes other countries’ human rights issues, said that the country won’t donate coronavirus vaccines to any impoverished countries because the US purchased doses before most Americans had been vaccinated, the Politico reported. 

Some representatives pointed out at the 46th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday that the US, in pursuit of “vaccine nationalism,” has hoarded vaccines far in excess of its population during the pandemic, and refused to share them with other countries, including its allies.

“Such a disgraceful human rights record has really disqualified Western countries’ from their right to preach to other countries about this subject. Next time they plan to lash out against other countries regarding human rights violations, they should reflect upon themselves first,” Chang said. 

80.46 million people had received #COVID19 vaccination as of Mar 22. After the first vaccine was approved for emergency use in July 2020, China’s vaccination rate has accelerated. Check this graphic for more details: Infographic: Wu Tiantong/GT

80.46 million people had received COVID-19 vaccination as of Mar 22. After the first vaccine was approved for emergency use in July 2020, China’s vaccination rate has accelerated. Check this graphic for more details: Infographic: Wu Tiantong/GT
Defender of fair distribution

In contrast to the Western world, China stands up as a defender of fair global vaccine distribution. The country is providing and will offer vaccine assistance to 80 countries and three international organizations, China’s International Development Cooperation Agency said on March 19.

The pandemic will only go on longer if developing nations fail to get enough vaccines, Chen Xi, an assistant professor of public health at Yale University, told the Global Times on Thursday. “That’s why Chinese and Russian vaccines have played a key role in solving this problem.”

Even the British Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson once pointed out that China has played an important role in ensuring fair global vaccine distribution, China News Service reported. 

China’s mass vaccination campaign has entered the fast lane with daily inoculations leaping from 1 million to nearly 3 million within a week.

China is also likely to include foreigners in its vaccination process. Foreigners in Shanghai who meet the requirements will be eligible to take domestically made COVID-19 vaccines, the municipal authorities announced on Tuesday night, making Shanghai the first Chinese city to publicize an inoculation plan for foreigners. Experts also noted that it is possible more cities will follow suit.

A German expat works in a German company in Shanghai, who declined to be named, told the Global Times that his company sent an email urging the employees to take the chance and get vaccinated. “There’s no evidence showing that the quality of Chinese vaccines is inferior to European or US vaccines…Thus, I strongly recommend you to accept such a preferential offer.”

A total of 150 foreign journalists from 27 countries have voluntarily taken vaccines in China, and they are safe and gratuitous, said Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a Wednesday conference. China is doing so for the sake of their health and providing convenience for them in their daily lives in China, she noted.

Many foreign media outlets also casted doubt on China’s production capacity, asking whether China can meet the target of mass vaccinations at home while exporting vaccines to other countries and regions.

Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing emphasized the stable output of China’s vaccines on Wednesday. China’s current daily output of vaccines has increased from 1.5 million doses on February 1 to the current 5 million doses. It is equivalent to more than 1.8 billion doses a year. 

The cumulative supply of domestic vaccines currently exceeds 100 million doses, the minister said.

SOURCE: GT staff reporters
MAIN IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

California passes 30,000 COVID-19 deaths amid continuing surge

California passes 30,000 COVID-19 deaths amid continuing surge

JAN. 10, 2021

California continued to see a dramatic surge Sunday in its number of COVID-19 deaths as the state surpassed another milestone: 30,000 fatalities.

The pace of daily COVID-19 deaths has climbed since the most recent surge began in November. On Nov. 3, California was recording about 40 deaths a day; by Thanksgiving, about 70 deaths a day; and by Christmas, about 220 deaths a day. By Sunday night, California was recording an average of 481 deaths a day for the previous week, a record.

It took roughly six months for California to record its 10,000th death, which came Aug. 6, and four more months to record its 20,000th death, which was logged Dec. 8. California recorded its 30,003rd death Sunday night, just about one month later, according to a survey of local health jurisdictions conducted by The Times.

Five of the highest single-day death tallies for California have been recorded in the last week.

The most recent single-day death record for California occurred Friday, when 685 deaths were recorded, breaking the previous record of 575 deaths tallied on New Year’s Eve. An additional 456 deaths were tallied statewide Saturday, the sixth-highest single-day tally, and 297 on Sunday.

California is recording an increasing number of daily coronavirus cases after a post-Christmas lull. From Dec. 16 to Dec. 22, the state had an average of 45,000 coronavirus cases a day, a record; that stabilized to between 35,000 and 40,000 cases a day until Thursday.

But the seven-day average of new cases rose to nearly 45,000 by Sunday night, the second-highest such number of the pandemic.

The post-Christmas surge in new coronavirus cases has been growing by the day. L.A. County’s average number of new coronavirus cases Thursday, Friday and Saturday was about 18,000 — significantly above the average of about 14,000 new cases a day over the last week.

“This very clearly is the latest surge from the winter holidays and New Year’s — no question about it,” Dr. Paul Simon, the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s chief science officer, said Friday. “It had gradually started earlier in the week, but [definitely] here in the last day or two.”

A survey of local health jurisdictions in L.A. County found 13,247 new coronavirus cases reported Sunday and 162 deaths. The daily tallies for Sundays are generally lower because of reporting delays over the weekend.

L.A. County is now averaging about 211 COVID-19 deaths a day, a record. That’s a far more accelerated pace than the number from Christmas, when L.A. County was averaging about 80 deaths a day, and Thanksgiving, when about 30 deaths a day were recorded.

There continues to be ongoing pressure on California’s overloaded intensive care units. According to data released Sunday, the number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s ICUs climbed to a record 4,863 on Saturday. That’s about triple the number from Thanksgiving.

About 22,000 COVID-19 patients were in California’s hospitals Saturday. That number has remained relatively flat for the last week. Officials expect the number of hospitalizations to start worsening this week, as people who were infected over Christmas start to become ill. What’s still not fully known is how bad the post-holiday surge will be in the hospitals.

L.A. County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have been stable in recent days, hovering between 7,900 and 8,100 patients, including about 1,700 in the ICU.

The ICUs in L.A. County are effectively out of available space. There are typically about 2,000 staffed ICU beds in the county, and as of last week, about 400 were occupied by non-COVID patients.

In recent days, available ICU beds in the county fell to zero or one in each of the following regions: central L.A., the Westside, southeast L.A. County, the San Gabriel Valley and the Antelope Valley. The South Bay-and-Long Beach region had as few as three available ICU beds in recent days, and the San Fernando Valley as few as six.

An increasing percentage of people infected with the coronavirus are now dying of COVID-19 in L.A. County without any underlying health conditions. Earlier in the pandemic, 7% of all COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County occurred among people without underlying medical conditions; now, 14% of cumulative deaths are among people with no underlying medical conditions.

Though California’s existing pandemic surge is dire, the state has one of the lower cumulative numbers of COVID-19 deaths on a per capita basis, ranking 38th among the 50 states, probably a result of the early imposition of the stay-at-home order in the spring and summertime closures of certain high-risk businesses. New Jersey’s cumulative COVID-19 death rate is triple that of California’s, Arizona’s is double and Florida’s is 1½ times larger.

Times staff writer Thomas Suh Lauder contributed to this report.

MAIN IMAGE: The body of a deceased COVID patient lies in a room at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The American Cancer Society to Host Virtual Gala

The American Cancer Society to Host Virtual Gala

The event will honor Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Chevrolet, and others for leading the fight against cancer locally while giving guests the chance to give back to the nonprofit

Emma Klug -October 20, 2020

The American Cancer Society is at risk of cutting cancer research funding by 50 percent this year — its lowest investment in this century — due to hardships brought on by the pandemic. Now, the nonprofit, which is funding nearly 20 research grants totaling $9.2 million in Michigan, is giving locals an opportunity to support its mission during these difficult times with a digital gala called the Night of Discovery.

Kicking off with a pre-show at 6:30 p.m., the Nov. 12 event will be emceed by WDIV’s Kimberly Gill and Devin Scillian and feature live entertainment, a silent auction, and a best dressed competition.

The evening will also honor “four leaders in the fight against cancer.” Honorees include Michigan State University Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, who has raised more than $1.1 million for ACS with his wife, Lupe, and the Lansing community; Chevrolet, which has raised over $13.9 million to fund breast cancer research and other initiatives; University of Michigan Women’s Softball Coach Carol Hutchins, who has raised more than $1.3 million for ACS through her softball program; and Ken and Kristen Lingenfelter, who have made a donation that will serve as a match for the gala.

tom izzo american cancer society
Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo — pictured above with his wife, Lupe, (far right) — will also be honored at the gala. // Photograph courtesy of the American Cancer Society

Night of Discovery will include opportunities to give back to the nonprofit, which has provided frontline healthcare workers with free places to stay at Hope Lodge facilities across the U.S., provided information and resources about COVID-19 to those diagnosed with cancer, and fought for policies that support cancer patients during the pandemic.

“Cancer hasn’t stopped for COVID-19, so neither can we,” says Karen Cullen, who is co-chairing the gala with her husband, Matt Cullen, the executive chairman of JACK entertainment, and Tom Shafer, president and COO of TCF Bank. “The reality is that cancer patients cannot wait for a more convenient time. They are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to treatment, support, and services. In fact, a recent ACS study showed that 79 percent of cancer patients in active treatment report delays in care due to the pandemic. They are counting on ACS to continue its important work and ACS is counting on us to fuel that work.”

The virtual gala is open at no cost to the general public, but guests must register online to receive text and email notifications for the auction and livestream. VIP experiences are reserved for sponsors and donors.

For more information, visit

SOURCE: Emma Klug
MAIN IMAGE SOURCE: Chevrolet will be honored during the Night of Discovery gala. // Photograph courtesy of the American Cancer Society