India coronavirus cases set new global record; US readies help

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Dr Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration's top medical adviser on the pandemic on Friday said that India is going through a very bad situation right now in a press briefing regarding surge in COVID-19 cases.

The US has once again refused to lift restrictions on export of raw materials used in covid vaccine manufacturing in India.

"It's of course not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated", Mr. Price went on to say. "And there is more we can do".

Earlier this month, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawala appealed to Biden to allow the exports of vaccine raw materials.

The US Chamber of Commerce on Friday called on the Biden administration to release millions of stored doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for shipment to India, Brazil and other hard hit countries. "When will the administration decide on that?"

"You asked about intellectual property and certain controls". But under the act, the firms need permission to export raw materials.

He said some 2,000 people were dying daily, but most experts estimated that the true number was five to 10 times that level.

The number of cases across the country surged by a record daily rise of 349,691 on Sunday, for a total of 16.96 million cases, including 192,311 deaths, the health ministry said.

"The point the Secretary (of State Antony Blinken) has made repeatedly is that as long as the virus is spreading anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere". So as long as the virus is spreading uncontrolled in this country, it can mutate and it can travel beyond our borders.

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The United States has around 30 million doses of the low-priced AstraZeneca vaccine that are not approved for use in the country, and Fauci told ABC's "This Week" news program the idea of sending them to India will be "something that is up for active consideration".

"This is pathetic. Is this what the US' "leadership" in the climate crisis will look like?"

He cited the U.S. rejoining the World Health Organisation and Washington's contribution of $2 billion to the COVAX facility that provides vaccines to developing countries and the promise of $2 billion more to it.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio this afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that Ireland needs to work with the European Union and the United States to provide help to India.

He said, "When it comes to India, (there is the) the Quad and the arrangement with the Quad, including to increase production capacity in India".

India's coronavirus infections rose by 346,786 overnight, the health ministry said on Saturday, setting a new world record for the third consecutive day, as overwhelmed hospitals in the densely-populated country begged for oxygen supplies.

The US decision on whether to lift the ban could prove to be even more crucial for India in the coming few months as all citizens above the age of 18 will become eligible for the vaccine in the third phase of inoculation, starting from May 1, leading to a greater demand.

Mr. Price's comments came on Thursday, the same day Mr. Biden assembled world leaders for a global climate summit, which included India's prime minister, Narendra Modi.

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