Africa 54 – November 24, 2020

You are watching Africa 54, your daily news and feature magazine-style program, from the Voice of America. Host Esther Githui-Ewart and a team of correspondents zero in on the big stories making news on the continent and around the world with context and analysis.

Top Stories:

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Britain’s University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has shown successful results in early trials. The vaccine appears suitable for fast rollout around the globe.

Two pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNTech have also announced that the efficacy portion of their COVID19 vaccine trial has been completed, showing the vaccine to prevent 95 percent of cases of the virus. Other companies like Moderna and AstraZeneca say their vaccine trials show that they are safe and provoked a strong immune response. Africa 54 health correspondent Linord Moudou spoke to Dr. Richard Mihigo, deputy incident manager for emergency response at the WHO regional office for Africa.

Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorization on Friday from the food and drug administration for its vaccine candidate; a decision by the FDA is expected in December. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is urging countries in Africa to be on high alert for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases, as the end of the year approaches and many families plan get-togethers.

Healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients say the work is taking a toll on their mental state. Some have fallen into depression and need therapy.

Voting continues in Burkina Faso. Incumbent President Roch Kabore was leading with just 12 of around 360 voting districts declared on Monday, according to the electoral commission. The Sunday presidential vote was dominated by the threat of Islamist violence. An association of the opposition parties cast doubt on the credibility of the results on Monday, repeating allegations of irregularities and fraud during a joint news conference. Ahead of the vote, international observers said they had seen no evidence of fraud. Analysts expect a tight race that could go to a second round if no candidate wins more than 50 percent.

In the Horn of Africa, Tigrayan forces said on Tuesday they had destroyed an Ethiopian army division in battles to control the northern region where a three-week-old war has killed hundreds and spread global alarm. The federal government denied that and said many Tigrayan soldiers were surrendering in line with a 72-hour ultimatum before a threatened attack on the regional capital Mekelle. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s troops launched an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front local government on November 4 and say they are closing in on Mekelle in a final push to win the conflict.

But the battle-hardened TPLF say their troops are keeping the federal army at bay and scoring some big victories. Reuters news agency has been unable to verify statements made by either side since phone and internet connections to Tigray are down and access to the area is strictly controlled.
President-elect Joe Biden has announced several of his top cabinet picks, naming his long-time close adviser and former deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as his choice to be the next secretary of state. Blinken is known as a staunch supporter of international alliances, human rights and refugees.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has announced he will nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield has more than 35-years of foreign policy experience including U.S. ambassador to Liberia and as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Before the November 3 election, Thomas-Greenfield joined Straight Talk Africa host Shaka Ssali and Professor Jendayi Frazer to discuss similarities in how Democratic and Republican U.S. presidents’ approach to Africa.

Following President-elect Biden’s announcement to include her in his cabinet, she tweeted: “My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in foreign service – and, if confirmed, will do the same as ambassador to the United Nations.”

U.S. presidents often change government policy through presidential actions, issuing executive orders, proclamations or memoranda, bypassing congress and the legislative process. President Donald Trump has relied heavily on the tactic, and President-elect Joe Biden has promised to do the same.

#Coronavirus #COVID19 #Vaccine #AstraZeneca #OxfordUniversity #Pfizer #BioNTech #Moderna #Ethiopia #Tigray #TPLF #BurkinaFaso #RochKabore #JoeBiden #Presidentelect #LindaThomasGreenfield #Africa #Liberia #Ambassdor #DonaldTrump

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