The Biden administration said it will deploy additional supplies and support to India in response to mounting pressure to help the Covid-19 stricken nation. India, which is second only to the United States in total case count, broke global records for the fifth straight day Monday with 352,991 new coronavirus infections.
The country’s brutal second wave of the pandemic, which began in March, has overrun hospitals and forced authorities to hold mass cremations at a scale not seen in the country since the pandemic began. For the past two weeks, medical facilities have been running out of oxygen and intensive care beds, with patients left to die at home or outside hospitals.
Last week, the United States was accused of vaccine nationalism by India’s biggest broadsheets after a State Department spokesperson reasoned that the US’ temporary export ban on vaccine materials was needed because it was “not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated; it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated.”
The United States changed its tune Sunday when White House and senior officials said they will send ventilators, PPE, rapid diagnostic test kits and therapeutics to India, Jessie Yeung reports. They will also send materials for making vaccines.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” President Joe Biden said in a Sunday tweet.
But his administration has yet to make a decision on whether to share the estimated 40 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses it has stockpiled. Those shots have gone unused, with the exception of a few million sent to Canada and Mexico, because AstraZeneca has not been granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that sending excess vaccines to India was “on the table,” though he offered no timetable or plan for such a move.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. What can vaccinated people safely do in the US?
A: “In the next few days very likely, the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will be coming out with updating their guidelines of what people who are vaccinated can do and even some who are not vaccinated,” Fauci told CNN.
There will be more guidelines coming out “sooner or later” on things like travel, Fauci said, but he highlighted that right now, the thing that’s on top of people’s minds is what they can do outdoors.
Outdoor activities carry a much lower Covid-19 risk, he said, and for Americans who are fully vaccinated, that risk level drops even further. And with warmer weather now here, Fauci said he expects guidance on outdoor activities to be released soon.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Americans will be able to travel to Europe in summer, but some are missing second vaccines
Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the European Union this summer, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday. She did not offer a timeline on when exactly tourist travel might open up or how it would occur.
This comes as CDC data shows about 8% of Americans have missed their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. But this is not worrying health officials. Fauci told CNN he was not surprised some people are missing the second dose, saying it happens frequently with multi-dose vaccines. “Obviously whenever you have a two-dose vaccine, you’re going to see people who for one reason or other — convenience, forgetting, a number of other things — just don’t show up for the second vaccine,” Fauci said.
Scores of people, including Covid-19 patients, killed in massive Baghdad hospital fire
At least 82 people died in a huge hospital fire Saturday night in Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad, and at least 28 of the victims were being treated in Covid-19 wards. Another 110 people were injured in the blaze at Ibn al-Khatib Hospital, which is believed to have started after oxygen tanks exploded.
Social media videos showed a chaotic scene as firefighters scrambled to put out the blaze and workers tried to evacuate patients. Health workers and civil defense teams were ultimately able to save at least 200 people, including patients.