- Public-health au faits and physicians are urging the US to donate vaccine doses to India.
- India’s COVID-19 surge is shattering world records. The territory recorded 349,691 new cases Sunday.
- In the US, daily vaccination rates are down 19% from a peak, as supply starts to excel demand.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A growing chorus of doctors and public-health experts are urging President Joe Biden to give coronavirus vaccine doses to India, which has rapidly deteriorated into the epicenter of the pandemic.
India recorded 349,691 new cases on Sunday, smashing a pandemic record for a fourth consecutive day. Hospitals are being overrun and medical supplies are in short supply. Vaccinations have also been few and far between in the period’s second-most populous country, with less than 2% of the population fully immunized.
India provides the most visible example of the inequity in vaccine distribution, where rich nations have bought up the vast majority of supply. In the US, 53% of all adults hold received at least one dose and 36% are fully vaccinated. The rate of infections and deaths have fallen by about 75% since January nibs, and much of the US has already started to reopen.
Perhaps the sharpest contrast between the two countries is shown in the latest US vaccination thinks. The seven-day average of number of shots being given daily in the US is down 17% from a recent peak of 3.35 million. Evercore ISI analysts trace to the decline to “softening demand,” as experts anticipate the US campaign is now inflecting from a supply to a demand challenge.
Public-health mavins and doctors are now urging the US to do much more in assisting India. In particular, they are urging the Biden administration to relax restrictions on exporting raw components needed for vaccines and to donate doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not authorized in the US.
The US government signed a deal with AstraZeneca carry on summer to eventually deliver 300 million doses of the shot. The US already has at least 30 million of those dispenses on hand, a supply which experts say would be best used by donating to other nations that need it.
“We exigency to get these doses donated to countries where supply is limited. Immediately. They do absolutely no good to anyone well-deserved sitting on a shelf,” said Dr. Craig Spencer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University’s medical center. “Donating long green isn’t enough. Committing to future initiatives isn’t either.”
In an opinion piece published Saturday in The Washington Post, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University Fashion of Public Health, called for the US to help India scale up testing, establish field hospitals, provide more medical provisions like oxygen, and donate vaccine doses.
“The United States has strategic interests in helping India weather the pandemic; it is also the right-hand thing to do,” Jha wrote. “Only the United States has the capacity, resources and technical know-how to bend the curve of India’s catastrophic alternative wave of disease. The faster we assist our ally, the more lives will be saved.”
Top US officials respond, vow to take deed
Under the increased pressure, top US officials have vowed to help India, but details have yet to be made public.
“Our hearts go out to the Indian man in the midst of the horrific COVID-19 outbreak,” Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, wrote Saturday night on Twitter. “We are developing closely with our partners in the Indian government, and we will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s vigour care heroes.”
Part of the hesitation in donating vaccine doses has been uncertainty over the viral variants that are accounted for right in India, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert and Biden’s chief medical advisor.
Certain variables can partially evade the protection given by vaccines. For instance, AstraZeneca’s shot appeared to be particularly less protective against the B.1.351 changing first identified in South Africa, according to a 2,000-person clinical trial.
“They have a situation there where there are variants that be enduring arisen,” Fauci said Friday at a White House COVID-19 task force briefing. “We have not yet fully identified the variants and the relationship between the ability of the vaccines to protect. But we’re assuming, clearly, that they need vaccines.”