Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : Special correspondents in the United States and India Lin Rishenke, our and Yu Wen Page No. : NA
URL : NA

On one side, in India, the single-day increase in cases of new corona pneumonia approaches 350,000, the crematorium lights up the night sky, and only 1.4% of the country’s population has undergone vaccination;  on the other side, in the USA, with plenty of vaccines and no bookings for vaccination, yet it still refuses to export vaccines and raw materials …… the severity of the epidemic in India and the selfish indifference of the U.S. government has caused international concern. As a result, it has been criticized by all sides. An article in the Times of India of the 25th said that “anti-American sentiment has broken out in India”, many Indian netizens questioned the way the United States treats its “allies”. Reuters said Washington is under increasing pressure to lift a ban on the export of raw materials of vaccines to help India, “the world’s largest democracy and a strategic ally of the United States against China”. Amid criticism from all sides, the U.S. Secretary of State and other officials took turns in the past two days to carry out “crisis communication,” saying they would “soon provide support to India,” but the specific content of the “support” was not mentioned. U.S. “vaccine nationalism” is hurting not only India, but also many developing countries that are waiting for vaccines. According to an AFP despatch of the 25, more than 1 billion doses of vaccines have been administered worldwide, but there is still a huge gap between the supply of vaccines in rich and poor countries. Several U.S. media outlets, including The Washington Post, published articles on the 25th calling on the U.S. government to change its current policy.

“Anti-American Sentiment Explodes in India”

Statistics released by the Indian health department on the 25th show that in the past 24 hours, India has added 349,691 confirmed cases of new coronary pneumonia, yet another high since the epidemic. It is the fourth consecutive day for a new world record for new confirmed cases in a single day, with 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours, also a record high. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech on the 25th that the “surge of the epidemic has shaken India, and he urged all citizens to get vaccinated and remain alert.

The Indian outbreak has dominated international media headlines for several days now. At least 25 patients died at Jaipur Gold Hospital in New Delhi on the 24th due to lack of oxygen. “This is the way Delhi is running at the moment. Friends are calling friends for help and social media is likewise flooded with desperate pleas for help”.

The severity of India’s epidemic continues to set records, but experts say the worst is yet to come. The Sunday Times 25 said Dr. Shahid Jamil, a virologist at India’s Ashoka University, told the newspaper that virus models show that the peak of India’s second wave of the epidemic has not yet arrived, and that after two weeks, the country could be seeing as many as 500,000 new cases a day.

While the rebound in India is thought to have been caused by a variety of factors, such as religious festivals, election rallies, virus mutations and so on, the most urgent thing at the moment is to treat the sick and vaccinate them. Reuters of the 25th said that the United States has been criticized in India for the Defense Production Act passed by the previous government and the export embargo on vaccine materials. The Times of India reported on the 25th that “anti-American sentiment (in India) erupts as Biden and Harris treat New Delhi’s needs with indifference”. According to the article, the U.S. government’s stockpiling of the new corona vaccine, its refusal to open up patents for vaccine production and its indifference to the dire situation in countries severely affected by the epidemic, such as India, have caused an outbreak of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment among Indian netizens, with some asking, “Is this what allies do?” Some recalled the Indian government’s support for the U.S. fight against the epidemic in 2020, sarcastically saying, “Remember hydroxychloroquine? 1.3 billion Indians will remember who stood by them in times of need”.

“India’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue ally, the United States, expressed ‘sympathy’ for India, but ‘rival China offered to provide support for India’s fight against the epidemic”. India’s Eurasia Times 24 reported that its ally, the United States, has little to offer it as India grapples with the new corona crisis except its “deepest sympathy”. “Interestingly, India’s rival China has said it is ready to offer any kind of support to its neighbor”. “The United States expresses its deepest sympathy to the people of India who are suffering in the epidemic,” said White House Press Secretary Leonardo Psaki at a press conference on April 22. On the same day, State Department spokesman Price said in response to a question about the ban on the export of vaccines and their raw materials that “the United States first and foremost wants to vaccinate the American people”.

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, on the 25th, saying that India is “on the brink of a humanitarian disaster” and that the United States has a “strategic interest” in helping India. The article suggests that the U.S. lift the ban on exporting vaccine materials so that India can produce much-needed vaccines. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on the Biden Administration to release “tens of millions of doses of unused AstraZeneca vaccine in storage” to India, Brazil and other countries with serious outbreaks. Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamurthi said on the 24th: “When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can’t let the vaccines sit in storage, we need to get them to places where they can save lives”.

U.S. Vaccine Surplus to Reach 300 Million Doses

Just how big is the U.S. vaccine surplus?

To the outside world, the U.S. media reports are even a bit “Versailles”: a CNN 24 headline said “By mid-May, the U.S. will likely have more vaccines than people need. That’s a big problem”. The New York Times said “Some mass vaccination centers in the United States will close because of a drop in demand for vaccinations”. The Associated Press says the supply of the new corona vaccine is so strong in the U.S. that some states have rejected the federal government’s delivery plan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of April 25 local time, a total of 13,864,44724 people in the U.S. had received at least one dose of the new corona vaccine, or 41.8 percent of the total population, and 9,307,840 people had completed the vaccination process, or 28 percent of the total population. ForbesNews.com says that if only adults over the age of 18 are counted, 53.1 percent of the U.S. population nationwide has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 35.9 percent have completed the vaccination process. If only those over 65 are counted, 81.3 percent have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 67.1 percent have completed the vaccination.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the 25th that the U.S. supply of the new corona vaccine will exceed demand in the next two to four weeks, and that the job of state health officials is now shifting from responding to the large number of vaccination requests to convincing people to get vaccinated. In Texas, 10,000 vaccination slots have not been booked. The Washington Post reported on the 25th that only 1.4 percent of the population in India has completed the vaccination process. By this summer, the U.S. could have a surplus of as many as 300 million or more doses of the new corona vaccine, according to estimates by researchers at Duke University’s Center for Global Health Innovation.

“The United States is under pressure to release vaccines,” the New York Times said on 25th April, adding that the United States is about to have an oversupply of vaccines, but many developing countries are still facing vaccine shortages. Biden called world leaders to a global Climate Summit last week, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi among them. But the tone of U.S. climate diplomacy contrasts sharply with its vaccine hoarding. “By hoarding vaccines and blocking exports of key raw materials needed for vaccine production, the U.S. is undermining the India-U.S. strategic partnership,” Mumbai parliamentarian Milind Deora tweeted.

“As criticism intensifies, U.S. pledges help for India,” the Times of India said on 25th April, adding that the U.S. had begun “crisis communication” after being criticized for ignoring serious outbreaks in India and Brazil. The U.S. Secretary of State Blinken tweeted on the 24th: “Our hearts are with the people of India. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government and will quickly provide additional support to the Indian people and health care heroes”. Reuters quoted a spokesman for the Indian Embassy in the U.S. on the 25th as saying that Indian and U.S. officials are in contact at all levels to ensure a smooth supply of the raw materials needed to produce the new corona vaccine in India.

Global vaccination exceeds 1 billion doses

Statistics released by AFP early on the 25th said that as of that day, 207 countries and regions around the world had administered more than 1.02 billion doses of vaccines, with the United States receiving the most, more than 225 million doses, followed by China with more than 216 million doses and India with more than 138 million doses. These three countries accounted for approximately 58% of the total number of doses administered globally. In terms of vaccination rates, Israel leads the world with nearly 60% of its population vaccinated. This is followed by the UAE, where more than 51% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, followed by the UK at 49%, the US at 42% and Chile at 41%.

There are huge differences in vaccination between countries. The Washington Post 25 said that Namibia, with a population of 2.5 million, had only 128 people who had received two doses of the new corona vaccine by mid-April. African countries such as Namibia and Kenya have denounced the West’s “vaccine apartheid” policy. Honduras, with a population of about 10 million, has received a paltry 59,000 doses of the vaccine, and the continent’s 1.3 billion people have received only 36 million doses, according to the Associated Press. Many developing countries believe that wealthy Western countries such as the United States could rapidly increase global vaccine supplies by temporarily lifting intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies, which would allow poorer countries to produce their own versions of Pfizer, Modena and other new-corona vaccines, the report said. In March, the U.S., U.K. and EU member states rejected a WTO proposal to drop patent protection for the new corona vaccine, which was supported by about 80 countries, including India and South Africa. The WTO plans to reconsider the issue in May.

“Vaccine nationalism hurts the world,” the Hindustan Times said in a 25-day article, adding that “vaccine nationalism” in rich countries is counterproductive in the long run, and that it is in the interest of all countries to ensure that vaccines are distributed fairly in an interdependent world. In an editorial published in the New York Times on 24 April, the paper criticized hoarding of vaccines in wealthy countries such as the United States and cover up of the global shortage of vaccines, especially in poor countries. According to the article, low- and middle-income countries around the world are facing severe vaccine shortages that threaten to upend the global anti-epidemic process”. Countries like the U.S. that have leverage, influence and excess supply need to take the following actions now: stop hoarding vaccines, suspend vaccine patent protection, share technology and resources, help other countries produce more vaccines, and invest in vaccine alternatives”. 

 

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