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Global Health Security Requires Medical Infrastructure in Every Country—Major Industrial Nations Must Collaborate Now!

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May 14 (EIRNS)–The following statement was released today by the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, for the Global Health Summit in Rome, May 21, 2021, and for general circulation.

The only way that the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic can be stopped, is by re-thinking the solution. We must have modern health care systems in every country. This means infrastructure for public health, and for medical care delivery at modern standards, to all populations. One model for this is the U.S. Hill-Burton Act (“Hospital Survey and Construction Act of 1946,”) whose principle was to state how many hospital beds per 1,000 residents must be in each locality (at that time, 4.5), and deploy accordingly to build them, including modern equipment and staff.

Look at instances of our ability to do this today. The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan hospital was built in 12 days in Wuhan in 2020. In the U.S., multiple field hospitals were built in record time last Spring by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We must do this simultaneously around the world.

This means that all countries must work together to accomplish this. We must put aside tensions and conflicts for the time being.

There are new strains of the SARS CoV2 that are showing up, that are more aggressive, and more transmissible. These can make vaccines obsolete. “Many of these variants show enhanced transmission and, in some studies, enhanced disease,” was the report in April by Dr. Dan Barouch, an immunologist at Harvard Medical School, who helped develop the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said that the variants, “also have the property of being able to partially evade antibodies, and therefore raise the specter as to whether they may reduce vaccine efficacy.” We are in a race against time.

Thus, our response to the pandemic seen in these terms is a question of existential importance to the human species. It requires the cooperation of all major industrialized nations. A new paradigm of coordination among the United States, China, Russia and others is central.

In this spirit, a grouping was formed in June, 2020, called the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, to further such international collaboration on large-scale response to the crisis. Co-initiated by Helga Zepp LaRouche, founder and President of the Schiller Institute, and Joycelyn Elders, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General, the Committee acts on the principle of the “coincidence of opposites” put forward by Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), which pursues acting on the common good, and deters pitting sub-groups against each other.

The Committee has two pilot projects underway, embodying this principle concretely, in order to promote major government and institutional action. In Washington, D.C. in Ward 8, a team—involving youth leaders–is working to reach full COVID-19 vaccination rates, and initiate ongoing public health measures in the largely poor community. In Africa, a Committee shipment will arrive soon in Mozambique of combined medical, health, water, food and seed supplies, to make the point that both emergency and overall development measures are urgent at all points of need on the globe.

Health security is possible anywhere, only by provision everywhere of sufficient public health infrastructure and medical treatment capacity. This, in turn, depends directly on expanding water, power and food, which is associated with building up industrial capacity, as well as providing for adequate transportation, housing and other basics. Of necessity, collaboration among nations to deal with these tasks means deliberating on how to provide credit, and otherwise deal with the unstable, unjust financial system. Guidelines for a new paradigm for economic development were presented in a report “The LaRouche Plan to Reopen the U.S. Economy; The World Needs 1.5 Billion New, Productive Jobs,” (May 29, 2020, EIR, Vol. 47, No. 22)

Global Health Infrastructure

The following are summary elements of what is required for health security. For details, see, “LaRouche’s ‘Apollo Mission’ to Defeat the Global Pandemic: Build a World Health System Now!” from April, 2020, by the Schiller Institute.

Hospital systems. There is currently a huge deficit of hospital beds. Today’s world total of 18. 6 million beds needs to be nearly doubled to some 35 million, along with staff and equipment. This calculation is based on the metric set in the post-WW II U.S. “Hill Burton Act,’ for 4.5 beds per 1,000 residents in the community, in order to provide treatment for both routine and surge circumstances. After the U.S. approached this 4.5 beds per 1,000 standard in 1980, the level then dropped back to 2.8 today, due to privatization and deregulation of U.S. health care. The ratio is 0.7 for the nations in the category of “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries.” For example, South Asia is 0.7. Nigeria has 0.5 beds per 1,000, which has one fifth of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A mobilization is necessary for building strategically located military-style field hospitals, in conjunction with vaccination campaigns, while at the same time, moving to launch longer-term construction of durable hospitals, continuing the crash mobilization mode. E.G. In Ghana, there is the national plan for multiple 100-bed hospitals. Depending on the number of beds in each new hospital, the world faces a need for 35,000 new facilities, especially in Africa, Ibero-America and Asia.

Health corps. Vast numbers of doctors, nurses, public health and related staff—technicians, pharmacists, veterinarians, dieticians, administrators, etc. are required worldwide. Meeting this need demands the spectrum of training, ranging from many more teaching hospitals, to thousands of youth training programs for invaluable community health service, beginning with today’s pandemic emergency. 
Water and sanitation. One fully-equipped hospital bed requires plumbing for at least 110-120 gallons of water a day. Every nation must have adequate water and sewerage. Today more than two billion people lack access to safe water, sanitation or both. The deployment of temporary sanitation facilities (which could be mass-produced and then distributed) will be a stop-gap measure, while durable improvements in infrastructure are constructed. Building largescale water management systems, for example, comprehensive river basin development in Africa and South America, along with littoral desalination—nuclear powered, as soon as possible—will end the extremes of drought and flooding, and provide millions of skilled jobs in the process.

Electricity. Modern medical treatment, including inoculation, is not possible without reliable, ample electricity, which of course is essential at large facilities. A large, modern hospital can use, roughly 19 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity for its many power requirements, including scanning and data devices, refrigeration, oxygen provision, ventilation, as well as lighting, cooking and cooling.

Science and technology. There must be an expansion of both basic research and development of technologies against diseases, including those affecting animals and plantlife. This is best done by collaboration among R and D institutions throughout the world. We must advance our understanding of viruses, such that in the near future we can do more than react to each new outbreak. In the immediate term, full collaboration on mass inoculation, and on anti-viral treatment regimens are essential to save lives.

“Food is medicine.” David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program reported May 7 that nine million people died from starvation in 2020, more than the official death toll of 3.24 million from COVID-19. “Food is the best vaccine against chaos,” he stressed, early in the pandemic. It is urgent to provide the $5 billion requested by the WFP for extra 2021 food relief, over and above current levels of aid. There are over 270 million people in acute need of food, and another 600 million with food insecurity. Ten nations are in terrible famine—with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African nations in the lead, as well as Yemen, Syria, Haiti and other locations. In addition, interventions must be made to support independent family farming in many of the most highly productive agriculture regions in Europe, North America, Australia and South America, whose output is vital, but where the family farmer is being driven out of operation by the transnational food monopolies. Modern agriculture must be rapidly developed in Africa and elsewhere. The goal is to double food production, to ensure nutrition and health for all.

The Global Health Summit is the responsible representation of the world population in this moment of a crisis of Biblical dimensions. This meeting must not end without a decision to start a process of worldwide international cooperation for a crash program to build a modern health system in every single country on the planet, including the necessary infrastructure to sustain that system.


Bolivian President Arce: Only a Global Solution Can Defeat COVID Pandemic

May 16 (EIRNS)–Speaking May 13 at an international forum organized by his foreign ministry, Bolivian President Luis Arce Catacora emphasized to his audience that the only way to defeat the coronavirus pandemic is through a global program, which, as his government has been emphasizing, must address the issue of vaccine inequity. For example, he said, Bolivia has purchased vaccines, but isn’t getting enough doses delivered because “production is circumscribed to specific countries,” or because some countries have restricted exports of vaccines for different reasons. “We’re not criticizing this,” he said, “but let’s be clear that we’re headed straight for disaster, because this is happening even to countries that have the ability to pay for vaccines…. Since the pandemic is a global evil, the solution must be global, and to get out of this, we all have to act; otherwise, no one will be safe….It’s as if there were an apartheid in which the weakest [countries] are being condemned and killed,” EFE news service reported him as saying May 13.

The Foreign Ministry forum, entitled “Waiving Patents and Considerations on Intellectual Property in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was focused, as the title indicates, on calling for suspending vaccine patents and intellectual property to ensure transfer of technology so that developing nations can produce vaccines. Officials from the UN Development Program, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and diplomats from South America and India, among others, attended. This is a campaign that Bolivia began two months ago and has vowed to take to every international forum and multilateral organization for debate. It should be seen as a useful adjunct to the urgent proposal of the Schiller Institute and the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites to build a global healthcare system and new economic order to competently address the pandemic. A foreign ministry press release estimates that the majority of vaccines produced in 2021 will be insufficient to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population, due to vaccine hoarding by the industrialized nations, and thus vaccinations of poorer nations’ populations aren’t likely to be completed before 2023.

Domestically, Arce has launched a campaign to inoculate all eligible Bolivians as soon as possible and is working closely with Russia and China to obtain vaccines. By the end of next week, Bolivia will have received 500,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine and one million doses of China’s Sinopharm and is making arrangements to obtain Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines as well. On the occasion of the most recent Sputnik V arrival on May 15, in the company of Russian ambassador Mikhail Ledenev, he remarked that “we have to step on the accelerator…these vaccines are the doses of hope for many people…thanks to the diplomacy among nations, above all with Russia and China, Bolivians will continue with the vaccination campaign,” the Bolivian Information Agency (ABI) reported him saying. Pointing to the difficult situation the world is facing because of new waves of COVID, he warned, “if our nations don’t take action and ensure an equitable distribution of doses, we’ll see many more waves, placing humanity at ever greater risk.”


Brotherhood Over Geopolitics: El Salvador and Honduras Set an Example

Brotherhood Over Geopolitics: El Salvador and Honduras Set an Example –

May 14, 2021 (EIRNS)–Last weekend, seven Honduran Mayors petitioned the president of neighboring El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, to send anti-Covid-19 vaccines to their municipalities, because their people are dying. El Salvador has the highest rate of vaccination in Central America (10%), because President Bukele made getting vaccines a priority early, including from China, which donated 150,000 doses on top of two million doses contracted. Honduras, however, has been able to vaccinate 0.56% of its 10 million people, most with only one shot, and whether needed second doses will arrive in time is in still in doubt.

The Honduran mayors were immediately invited to El Salvador to meet with Bukele, the Health Minister and others. Less than two days after their visit, early on Thursday morning, seven, big, blue trucks marked “COVID-19 Vaccine” left San Salvador and headed to Honduras, carrying 34,000 vaccine doses—donated. Salvadoran officials decided that despite their own needs, because they have doses contracted in their pipeline, they should help out their neighbors.

From the moment the convoy of trucks and police escort crossed into Honduras, to when each truck arrived in its designated municipality, crowds were gathered along their route. People cheered, waved the flags of both countries and signs saying “Thank you President Bukele!,” as passing vehicles honked approval. When one truck arrived after dark at its final destination, it was met by people lining the street, waiting to shake the hand of the drivers; visibly moved, the Salvadoran drivers slowed way down to shake as many as they could. In another town, a Honduran doctor videotaped a message of thanks to President Bukele in front of a hospital. One mayor gave a lovely speech hailing this act of friendship as a step towards restoring the single Central American nation which had existed for a short time after Independence.

The Honduran Foreign Ministry tweeted when the decision was announced on May 11:
“The donation of 34,000 vaccines doses announced today in San Salvador shows that it is possible to put health before geopolitics, and that there is no deadlock where there is brotherhood. In the name of Honduras: many thanks to our brothers. We appreciate the support and reciprocity which we have received from El Salvador and other countries to help obtain vaccines which otherwise have been denied to Honduras because of the politicization of the pandemic.” 

Honduras is now taking steps at various levels of government to establish some ties with China. Honduras still maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which–like its protector, the United States–has not made any vaccines available. The Association of Honduran Mayors (AMHON) sent a letter this week to President Bukele in the name of all the country’s 298 municipalities, requesting that El Salvador help them with contacts and procedures so that Honduras can purchase vaccines from China. The Honduran National Congress passed a motion yesterday calling on the Executive Branch to secure anti-COVID vaccines from vaccine-producing nations such as Russia, China, India, Cuba “and even [!] the United States,” specifying that a trade office be established in China, “among other countries,” in order to facilitate this work.


India Remains the Epicenter of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

India Remains the Epicenter of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

May 13, 2021 (EIRNS)—With record-breaking daily deaths, the total official COVID-19 death toll in India surpassed a quarter-million yesterday. The daily new cases continue to hover just under 400,000, with some experts forecasting that daily infections will peak at about a half-million sometime in June. The country now accounts for about half of all new COVID-19 cases and 30% of deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has also designated the B.1.617 variant as a matter “of global concern,” given how highly transmissible it is. The Pan American Health Organization reported that the Indian variant has shown up in six countries in the Americas.

Numerous experts continue to report that the total infections and total deaths are probably 5-10 times higher in reality than the official numbers indicate. A large portion of the uncounted numbers remain in India’s countryside.

There is a major discussion going on inside India over how much to lock down and for how long. Dr. Balram Bhargava, head of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said in an interview yesterday that lockdown restrictions should remain in place in all districts where the rate of infection is above 10% of those tested, and that they should stay locked down for at least 6-8 weeks. Test-positivity rates above 10% now prevail in 75% of the country’s 718 districts, including major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, and the tech hub of Bengaluru, according to Reuters’s May 12 report.

“The high positivity districts should remain (shut). If they come to 5% from 10% (positivity rate) we can open them, but that has to happen. That won’t happen in six-eight weeks, clearly,” Bhargava said in an interview. In Delhi, the positivity rate reached around 35% but has now fallen to about 17%, Bhargava said: “If Delhi is opened tomorrow, it will be a disaster.” Bhargava has been calling for a government-ordered lockdown in with a 10% positivity rate or higher since April 15. Prime Minister Narendra Modi preferred to leave the decision for states to decide, perhaps because of his concern that extensive lockdowns could lead to uncontrolled social explosions in the desperate population.

Absent an international joint attack on the root causes of the pandemic—50 years of global physical economic collapse, especially in the health and food areas—India, like most developing nations, is left with only two disastrous choices: don’t lock down and watch the pandemic spread like wildfire; or lock down, and drive millions of poor and unemployed or marginally employed people over the edge.


Beasley: 9 Million Died of Starvation in 2020; This Year Could Reach 30 Million

Beasley Describes, 9 Million Died of Starvation in 2020 and This Year Could Reach 30 Million –

May 13, 2021 (EIRNS)—David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, in a speech May 7 in his home state of South Carolina, warned that the number of people who could die of starvation in 2021 could be 20 to 30 million. He reported that 9 million perished last year from lack of food, in contrast to the 3.24 million official 2020 world death toll from COVID-19, which, of course, is a vast undercount. His point was to call for intervention with food relief, but also to stress that the armed conflicts should stop.

Beasley spoke in his home county of Darlington, at the Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Lydia, which was founded in 1789.

He said, as reported by SCNow daily, “What happened in the past four years? Man-made conflict. And I say that in a gender way. It’s not woman-made. It’s man-made. It’s literally man-made conflict.” He singled out Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan for special attention as examples of dire emergency.

He also pointed to the ripple effects from the pandemic lockdowns. “Now, because of COVID, the economic ripple effect, particularly when Western society shuts down its economy or at least turns the engines down, the economic ripple effect into low-income, middle-income, developing nations is catastrophic. And so, the number is now 270 million people literally marching to the brink of starvation.”

On the well-known warning by Beasley, that we are facing a famine catastrophe of “Biblical dimensions,” he chose to recount the backstory to that phrase, which he used in April 2020, in briefing the UN Security Council. As he has often repeated, it was Tony Blair, who urged Beasley to go to the UNSC, when Blair heard Beasley’s strong language.


WFP’s Beasley Promotes ‘Hunger Ward’ Documentary on Malnutrition in Yemen

WFP’s Beasley Promotes ‘Hunger Ward’ Documentary on Malnutrition in Yemen

April 9 (EIRNS)—A new documentary was released online today on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, titled “Hunger Ward,” after which release World Food Program Director David Beasley and filmmaker Skye Fitzgerald, held a live discussion (see hungerward.org).

The new half-hour film focuses on the terrible plight and death rate of malnourished children in Yemen, featuring coverage at the Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, the nation’s largest hospital; and the Aslan Clinic, the largest malnutrition treatment center in northern Yemen. The scenes and the words of the medical directors—Dr. Aida Alsdeeq in Aden and Nurse Mekkiah Mahdi at the Aslan Clinic—are gripping. The film also shows the sad horror of the wreckage of a Saudi missile strike against a funeral gathering in Yemen, with shoes of dozens of the dead still scattered in the rubble of the ruins. The postscript states simply that Saudi Arabia, with U.S. backing is still making war on Yemen, and that France, Germany, other nations, and the Houthis are complicit.

Beasley has given this documentary advance publicity to mobilize world attention on the growing famine in Yemen and internationally, which he spoke about on April 7 in a virtual forum at the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. Speaking to a student audience, Beasley repeatedly stressed that the warfare must stop, and famine is “man-made.” He said that in the next ten days, he will visit Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and if possible, Venezuela, because of the worsening food situations here.

Beasley gave the Delaware students a status report on world hunger today, and how it is increasing. He said that when he came into office in 2017, there were 700 million hungry globally, and 80 million on the brink of starvation. That number on the brink increased to 135 million just before COVID-19 began. Today, that number is 270 million. Out of this number, 34 million are nearing the point of starvation. He called it phase 3 to 4 (on the UN scale called IPC—Integrated Phase Classification: No. 1, real, but minimal food insecurity; 2, stressed; 3, crisis; 4, emergency; 5, famine).

Beasley went into a “breakdown by country,” according to the IPC scale. This includes, for example, 19-21 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Phase 4; and 19 million in Afghanistan at Phase 3 to 4. “Syria is imploding”; Haiti is in crisis, he said.

Beasley called for $5 billion for world anti-famine work, on top of the ongoing anti-hunger funding. “We have a vaccine for starvation … it’s called food,” he stressed. In the Q&A, when one student asked about nutritious food, Beasley said, in essence, that, of course, that is necessary, but he explained to the young questioners the fact that “food for survival” is now the issue before us. He declared that the WFP budget was covered at $5.9 billion in 2017, then in 2020 rose to $8.9 billion, but said that is not enough. This year it needs to be in the $15 billion range. He recognized that the U.S. increased its contribution to the WFP from $1.9 billion four years ago, up to $3.47 billion. He identified that while Washington is typically “fighting over everything, with rinky-dink concerns,” there has been a bipartisan agreement on food aid. He scored the billionaires who watch the deaths happen: “I get upset … in 2020 a new billionaire was created every 17 hours.” There were 493 new billionaires created last year. “And all I need is $5 billion.”


Some Countries: No Vaccines … and a Lack of Electricity or Refrigeration

Some Countries with No Vaccines … and a Lack of Electricity or Refrigeration

May 9 (EIRNS)—According to the World Health Organization, as of this week, Chad, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Eritrea, Tanzania and Haiti have not even received vaccines for their medical personnel. AP explains: “Delays and shortages of vaccine supplies are driving African countries to slip further behind the rest of the world in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout…” While the Farcha hospital in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, has 13 ventilators, along with oxygen from Doctors Without Borders and KN95 masks from the Chinese, none of the medical personnel have been vaccinated. Already, nine health care workers at the hospital have been infected, including cardiologist Dr. Mahamat Yaya Kichine, who explained: “I think that if there is a possibility to make a vaccine available, it will really ease us in our work.” 

A key bottleneck in Chad, and elsewhere, is the lack of sufficient cold storage facilities. For example, Haiti is scheduled to receive 756,000 AstraZeneca doses via COVAX, but problems with basics such as electricity and refrigeration have delayed their arrival. 


Chinese and Argentine Labs to Produce Sinopharm Vaccine in Argentina

Chinese and Argentine Labs Sign Deal to Produce Sinopharm Vaccine in Argentina

May 7 (EIRNS)–The Chinese embassy in Argentina together with Health Minister Carla Vizzotti announced May 5 that the Argentina laboratory Sinergium Biotech has signed an agreement with China’s state-run Sinopharm company by which Sinergium will produce the Sinopharm vaccine at its facility in Buenos Aires. The announcement was made following a high-level meeting including Chinese ambassador, Zou Xiaoli, Vizzotti, special presidential adviser Cecilia Nicolini, the Argentine ambassador in Beijing, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, and top executives from Sinergium labs and Sinopharm. According to the daily {Dangdai} the same day, the Chinese embassy tweeted that “the pharmaceutical companies of both nations will immediately begin consultations to get production started as soon as possible….As always, the Chinese embassy in Argentina will support the efforts of both countries to combat the pandemic, and will help Sinopharm in its close collaboration [with Argentina], so as to elevate the Chinese-Argentine response to this health emergency.” The plan is for Sinopharm to send the first batch of antigens to Argentina in June, so that Sinergium can begin to produce up to one million doses of the vaccine per week.


An Underprepared India Is Teetering Under Covid-19’s Second Attack

May 5 (EIRNS)—Having withstood the first wave of the Covid-19 attack in 2020 rather commendably, India’s Modi administration declared “victory” and virtually ignored the threat waiting around the corner — the second wave of the virus attack. India is now paying dearly with lives and general chaos caused by global pandemic.

On May 4, WHO figures indicated India accounted for nearly half of the COVID-19 cases reported worldwide in the past week. The WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report that India accounted for 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week. New daily infections in the country numbered 382,315 on May 5, health ministry data showed, the 14th straight day of more than 300,000 cases. Officially, India has reported more than 3,500 deaths every day throughout the last week.

On May 4, Allahabad High Court (AHC) in Uttar Pradesh observed that the death of Covid-19 patients just because of the lack of oxygen in hospitals, which is widespread throughout the country, is a criminal act and is “no less than a genocide.” The AHC stated that the authorities- in-power are responsible for not taking measures to ensure maintenance of the oxygen supply chain.

In January-February of this year, the first wave of Covid-19 had waned in India and the official numbers showed a 90 percent drop from the peak of 96,000 per day in September 2020. The daily death toll dropped from 1,200 to 80. A sense of triumphalism began to emerge, led by a pack of cheerleaders close to Prime Minister Modi who unleashed vigorous political campaigns in five states going to the polls in March-April. On February 21, the senior leaders of the ruling party, BJP, thanked Prime Minister Modi for his “visionary leadership” that effectively weathered the Covid attack. Addressing the annual conference of Delhi Medical Association on March 7, Modi’s Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan triumphantly declared : “We are in the end game of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.”

By April 4, the second wave of Copvid-19 attack became evident, when daily new cases exceeded the peak load of September 2020. Other than banning exports of vaccines at the end of March, the Modi administration did not take any new measure to either ramp up vaccine production or the production and supply chain of oxygen. Foreign vaccine developers that applied for authorization were told to carry out bridging trials that would take a few months before emergency use authorization could be given. The dam broke loose in mid-April.

It became evident on April 15 that India’s fragile health infrastructure, under the second attack of Covid-19, had collapsed. Oxygen shortages were causing deaths at hospitals throughout India and the vaccination rates dropped from about 3.5 million jabs a day to below 2.5 million, reflecting a looming vaccine crunch.

From one million active cases a week during the last peak, India already has 3.2 million active cases, and the peak lies somewhere in the future. The second wave of Covid-19 has hit India like a tsunami and the Modi government is wholly paralyzed, leaving the people unprotected to face this deadly wave.


West Sends Thimbles Full of Aid to India

West Sends Thimbles Full of Aid to India

May 5 (EIRNS)–According to India Today, 3,000 tons of aid has arrived in the country so far. That may sound like a lot; but what it boils down to is that this nation of 1.4 billion people, with over 20 million cases of COVID which are growing at the rate of more than a million new cases every three days, has received a grand total of 1,656 oxygen concentrators, 20 large-sized oxygen concentrators, 965 ventilators, and an unknown number of pulse oximeters, Remdesivir packets and some PPE. The Indian government claims that, in some cases, the aid is still in transit. They added that the limited amount of the foreign aid also meant that splitting it up equally was not optimal; so the hardest-hit states were preferred.

This is hardly a serious response to a nation in peril from a global pandemic.

A particular problem is that India’s vaunted vaccine production capacity has been crippled by the Biden administration’s ban on export of vital components, which was only lifted a few days ago after major pressure was brought to bear on Washington. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said that their production of Covishield (AstraZeneca) is now about 60-70 million doses per month, and is able to rise up to 100 million/month by July.

Vaccine doses are desperately needed, given that only 2% of the Indian population has been vaccinated. Last month the government announced that they were now fast-tracking vaccine approval, and on Monday Pfizer announced that they were in discussions with India on providing vaccines. Russia began sending in the first portion of three million doses in May of Sputnik V. And pressure continues to mount on Biden to release the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca warehoused, unused, in the US. That stockpile by itself would double the vaccination program in India this month – nowhere near what is actually needed in this emergency, but certainly helpful.


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