Apr 21, 2020 - Health

Rising global food insecurity could exacerbate coronavirus

A homeless young man, who is thought to be suffering from malnutrition, is helped to the clinic in a quarantined area outside Dakar, Senegal on April 10. Photo: John Wessels/AFP via Getty Images

135 million people globally were affected by acute malnutrition in 2019, the United Nations' food agency said in a report released Monday — the most since the agency was formed four years ago.

Driving the news: The planet is “on the brink of a hunger pandemic" as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, David Beasley, chief of the UN's World Food Program told the UN Security Council Tuesday, AP reports.

  • Beasley said that he warned the council about a potential food insecurity crisis before COVID-19 emerged, due to conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Africa's locust swarms, natural disasters and economic crises, AP writes.
  • Some of the countries that faced the most food insecurity in 2019 include: Nigeria, Venezuela, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN's Global Food Network against Food Crises noted in its report.

What he's saying:

“The truth is, we do not have time on our side, so let’s act wisely — and let’s act fast. I do believe that with our expertise and partnerships, we can bring together the teams and the programs necessary to make certain the COVID-19 pandemic does not become a humanitarian and food crisis catastrophe."
— David Beasley said Tueday, per AP

The bottom line: The UN report predates the coronavirus crisis, but those struggling with food insecurity often have higher rates of underlying health conditions that weaken immune systems and can "increase the risk of people developing severe COVID-19 symptoms," the agency notes.

Go deeper... UN: Millions of children at risk of poverty and malnutrition due to coronavirus

Go deeper

May 22, 2020 - Health

Update: Study linking hydroxychloroquine to increased death risk is retracted

Hydroxychloroquine. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s note: The study referenced in this story has been retracted by the medical journal The Lancet due to questions on the veracity of its primary data sources. Read more here.

Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

Why it matters: Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump has insisted the anti-malarial drug as a "game-changer" and admitted he has taken it as a preventative even though the drug is unproven.

As techlash heats up again, here's who's stoking the fire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As controversies around online speech rage against a backdrop of racial tension, presidential provocation and a pandemic, a handful of companies, lawmakers and advocacy groups have continued to promote a backlash against Big Tech.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Google got a reputational boost at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, but that respite from criticism proved brief. They're now once again walking a minefield of regulatory investigations, public criticism and legislative threats over antitrust concerns, content moderation and privacy concerns.

Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After being told for months to stay away from others, the idea of being shoulder to shoulder again in a bus or subway terrifies many people, requiring sweeping changes to public transit systems for the COVID-19 era.

Why it matters: Cities can't come close to resuming normal economic activity until large numbers of people feel comfortable using public transportation.