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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.


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.


India: a Belated Mobilization Begins

Apr. 30 (EIRNS)–Friday was yet another new record with over 386,000 official new cases. New Delhi hospitals are beyond capacity and patients are sharing beds and using the floors of corridors. In the next two weeks, 1,200 more intensive care beds are to be added, but New Delhi has about 24,000 new cases/day with approximately 3,600/day needing hospitalization. The Army Chief, M. M. Naravane, opened the military hospitals and invited those in distress to approach a military base. One military hospital with 500 beds was opened, and three hours later was all filled up.

Also on Friday, two planeloads of equipment arrived from Russia, including 20 oxygen concentrators, 75 ventilators, 150 bedside monitors and 22 tons of medicine. The first U.S. shipment arrived with some oxygen cylinders, N95masks, and rapid antigen tests. Bangladesh provided 10,000 vials of anti-virals and 30,000 PPE kits. On Saturday, the German Air Force will arrive with supplies, and Taiwan is delivering 150 concentrators this weekend. Finally, Friday also saw China’s head, Xi Jinping, call India’s Prime Minister Modi, offering condolences and expressing willingness to strengthen cooperation with India. Global Times reports that China has sent 26,000 ventilators and oxygenators, 15,000 patient monitors and about 3,800 tons of medicine to India so far this month.


Putin Speaks With Modi, As Planeloads of Russian Aid Begin

April 28 (EIRNS)—President Vladimir Putin personally informed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today that Russia will send equipment urgently-needed to care for Indians infected with COVID-19 to India, starting with flights today by the Russian Emergencies Ministry delivering over 22 tons of equipment, including 20 oxygen production units, 75 lung ventilators, 150 medical monitors and 200,000 packs of medicine. The two leaders spoke by telephone, with Putin assuring Modi of his support in this difficult period, and Modi “warmly thank[ing] the President of Russia for the assistance provided, which is largely high-tech and is in great demand in the country,” the Kremlin reported. They also discussed that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has also now been registered in India, and both are satisfied that the Russian Direct Investment Fund had reached an agreement with Indian companies to produce 850 million doses of Sputnik V, production of which is to begin in May.


Pandemic Gains Upper Hand in India; Biden Looks the Other Way

Pandemic Gains the Upper Hand in India; Biden Looks the Other Way

April 25 (EIRNS) – India has reported over 300,000 new COVID infections per day for the last four days – a world record. That means that {one million} people are getting infected every three days in this nation of 1.3 billion. Chinese medical authorities are estimating that the daily rate could rise to 500,000 by June, and that the real numbers are likely much higher than recorded as many homeless people infected with the virus have not been included. The country now has recorded a total of 16.6 million cases, including 189,544 deaths. Worse still, the new strain reportedly directly attacks the lungs and typically causes significant damage before it is even detected.

While much of the international media remains focused on the sheer horror of the collapse of the Indian health system, the deadly lack of oxygen, and the open-air improvised crematoria, the true scandal is that the United States, and other western nations, are not only standing by, but have actually turned their backs on India and are – so far – refusing to send desperately needed vaccines and other medical supplies to India.

Delhi medical and government authorities have been pleading with the US to supply it with Astra Zeneca jabs that have been stockpiled by the Biden administration, as well as the raw materials needed to manufacture COVID vaccines in India. India’s former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal told Sputnik: “The attitude of the Joe Biden administration is very self-centered and selfish. India has been very generous in exporting and donating vaccines to other countries during the COVID pandemic,” said Sibal, who was previously a deputy chief of India’s Embassy in the US.

“The US, on the other hand, wants to create a stockpile to buffer itself against the next wave. Millions are being affected in India due to the virus and the US is effectively ignoring the plight of Indians”, complained Sibal. “The US is sitting on 350 million doses of COVID vaccine which India could use urgently”, he stated.

The raw materials required to manufacture COVID vaccines include bio-reactor bags, cell culture media, and filters, among others. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility, this week tweeted out an appeal to President Biden urging him to lift the ban on the export of raw materials. The SII claims that its vaccine production has been cut by almost 50 percent due to a shortage of raw materials.

To date, the best the Biden administration has been able to do is send empty words to India: “Our hearts go out to the Indian people in the midst of the horrific Covid-19 outbreak,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken tweeted. “We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government, and will rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India and India’s health care heroes.”


India's Permanent Representative to the U.N., T S Tirumurti

U.S. “Caesar Sanctions” Criticized by India at U.N.

Apr. 14 (EIRNS)–On March 16, the Permanent Representative of India at the United Nations, Ambassador T.S. Tirumarti spoke out against the humanitarian disaster related to the U.S. imposition of sanctions against Syria, the so-called Caesar Sanctions. Tirumarti said the sanctions should be “relaxed,” calling on the international community to act “with a sense of urgency” to help the Syrian people. He said there is an “urgent need to increase humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination, politicization, and any preconditions.”

The sanctions, which were a part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, went into effect on June 17, 2020, and have plunged more than 90% of all Syrians below the poverty level. With the full backing of Secretary of State Pompeo, the U.S, Special Envoy for Syria Engagement, James Jeffrey, exposed the hypocrisy of U.S. policy in his explanation of the actual intent of the Act. While insisting that “We’re not demanding total victory, we’re not saying that Assad has to go,” Jeffrey said that the goal of the Act is to “make it clear to anyone who wants to rebuild Assad’s Syria that that cannot happen without Caesar sanctions,” until there is a government in Damascus that carries out US demands with what Jeffrey described as “real eagerness.” He later clarified that anyone, or any nation which engages in economic activities in Syria is “a potential sanctions target.”

The sanctions were drafted in response to a collection of photos compiled by a defector of Syrians who were allegedly victims of the brutality of the Assad government. It was delivered to the opposition group, the “Syrian National Movement”, which passed it on to Human Rights Watch, (HRW) which released it in an 86-page report, “If the Dead Could Speak: Mass Deaths and Torture in Syria’s Detention Facilities.” Critics of the report point out that, of the 28,000+ photos included, only a “couple dozen” could be confirmed by HRW activists, who claimed to have “meticulously verified dozens of stories” of people who died in Syrian detention centers. Many of the others were Syrian soldiers murdered by terrorists, or victims of assassinations and bomb attacks done by terrorists.

In passing the bill, no significant voice in Congress was raised about victims of U.S. torture in Iraq or Afghanistan, or about the civilian toll of the “War on Terror,” or about the millions whose lives are endangered by the sanctions. Also of note is that the publisher of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, who published classified U.S. documents reporting on torture and other atrocities carried out by U.S. military and security forces occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, was not hailed as a “hero” — as the defector and HRW activists have been — but is left to rot in a jail in London, awaiting extradition to stand trial in the U.S.

The Schiller Institute is demanding that the sanctions be lifted immediately.


India Helps Crush the Great Reset and `Green New Deal’

India Helps Crush the Great Reset and `Green New Deal’

April 6 (EIRNS) – In a second “No”, India’s Energy Minister Raj Kumar Singh said at an IEA meeting on climate change that “net zero” carbon is “pie in the sky” no matter when you pledge it for. At a meeting supposed to be preparatory to the COP26 in Scotland in November, Singh said, “I would call it, and I’m sorry to say this, but it is just pie in the sky. What we hear is that … 2060 is far away and if the people emit at the rate they are emitting the world won’t survive, so what are you going to do in the next five years…. You have 800 million people who don’t have access to electricity. You can’t say that they have to go to net zero. They have the right to develop, they want to build skyscrapers and have a higher standard of living; you can’t stop it.”

China’s minister Zhang Jianhua also spoke at that IEA meeting, but when invited to a formal pre-meeting for COP26 – by the UK, remember, which is its host – China declined the invitation.

John Kerry, in Delhi for the same meeting, “happened to meet” Sergei Lavrov, who was in India on the world’s real business (see separate report). Kerry was perhaps trying to gauge whether Russia would attend Joe Biden’s April 22 “Earth” (or “dearth”) summit. But at the IEA meeting Kerry appeared to be criticizing long-term pledges to net zero carbon, like China’s 2060 pledge. “Avoid the happy talk and recognize that this challenge is global”, Kerry chided.

The real challenge is the power to develop, as Minister Singh made clear. The only power that can meet {that} global challenge is nuclear fission and, as soon as possible, fusion. (See BBC News article here.)

These are blows against the royal family’s “Green Deal” which can be amplified in the United States. Americans do have ‘plentiful” electricity but a steadily increasing share of it doesn’t work. In 2020 the percentage of companies which reported suffering blackout problems {every month} leaped from 20% in 2019 – already very high – to 44% in 2020. The FERC attributed this to the increasing share of “renewable” (interruptible) power sources.

This destroys an economy’s productivity, exactly as described in EIR Special Report and The LaRouche Organization’s mass pamphlet, Great Leap Backward: LaRouche Crushes “Green New Deal” Fraud.

In a sign of political pressure for nuclear rising, President Biden’s “climate advisor” Gina McCarthy told press on April 2 that nuclear energy will be included in the Administration’s so-called Clean Energy Standard, which is intended to be a requirement for electric power utilities and generators.