More than 100 world leaders and high-ranking government officials will convene a two-day virtual special session of the United Nations General Assembly Thursday to discuss the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to craft a recovery strategy.
Brendan Varma, a spokesman for General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, said the special session is aimed at creating a multilateral strategy among the countries, U.N. actors, the private sector and vaccine developers to craft a recovery strategy.
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The Associated Press says Friday's second and final day will include three virtual panels: the global body's response to the pandemic, the current progress toward a coronavirus vaccine, and the global economic recovery from the pandemic.
The U.N. Development Program has released a study predicting the COVID-19 pandemic could push another 207 million people into extreme poverty, bringing the total number to more than 1 billion by 2030. A separate report released Thursday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said nearly 50 so-called least developed countries will experience their worst economic performance in three decades, pushing as many as 32 million people into extreme poverty this year alone.
Thursday's meeting comes as the world nears 1.5 million deaths worldwide from COVID-19, out of a total of 64.5 million total cases. Among the latest to succumb from the disease is former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who died Wednesday at his home in central France at the age of 94. Giscard was first diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in September with respiratory complications.
In the United States, which leads the world with more than 13.9 million total COVID-19 cases and more than 273, 836 deaths, the situation is worsening with each passing day. The nation topped 100,000 hospitalizations for the virus for the first time since the pandemic began Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, and nearly 200,000 new cases.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Wednesday of a bleak winter ahead as the country continues to see nationwide surges of COVID-19 cases.
"The reality is that December, January and February are going to be rough times," Redfield said in a livestream presentation hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. "I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation."
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Redfield said the current surge in cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is worse than previous ones, noting the geographic scope and steeper trajectory of infection rates and deaths, as the U.S. is recording roughly 2,000 deaths from the virus daily.
Redfield also warned of the strain on hospitals across the country, which are running low on beds and have overworked staff.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama said he will take a COVID-19 vaccine when the drug has been considered safe and effective. In an interview scheduled to be aired Thursday on satellite radio provider SiriusXM, Obama said he is even considering taking the vaccine on television as part of a public campaign to convince Americans who may be skeptical about being inoculated, especially among Black Americans.
CNN is also reporting that Obama's predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, are also considering taking an eventual approved vaccine on television.