A devastating second wave of Coronavirus in India is now spilling into its neighboring countries. Therefore the western drug companies are under tremendous pressure to lift the vaccine patents so that more countries can start making them.
On Sunday, the US recognized those calls, and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai would hold discussions with the World Trade Organization discussing that how can the vaccine be more broadly distributed, more broadly licensed, and more broadly shared.
This occurs as India’s disastrous virus surge, edging towards 20 million confirmed cases, but the real numbers are assumed to be far higher. As so many cases are now being reported in India the coronavirus situation is now turning into a regional problem. The situation is also becoming so bad in the neighboring countries that Nepal has reached a hospital bed shortage situation because of the rising cases, oxygen supplies are running low in Pakistan, and Bangladesh turned industrial oxygen supplies to hospitals last week, worrying about shortages for Covid-19 patients.
Now it is believed that there is a very real chance that this will now break out, west of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, north to Nepal, east Myanmar, and therefore Southeast Asia. There is also now fear rising as there are many links between South Asia into East Africa and hence there is the possibility that this can be a great risk to the African continent in spite of the massive efforts being done to date.
India is also one of the world’s biggest suppliers of vaccines and the cornerstone of the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX, which has grappled for securing vaccines as the wealthy countries snapped up supplies. For instance, the US has bought or agreed to buy more than 1 billion doses of vaccines. That’s sufficient to completely vaccinate the US population at least twice, with plenty leftover.
But the Indian government has prioritized Indian-made vaccines for its own citizens, a movement that is creating a problem for the many countries which are dependent on its doses through COVAX. Since this is expected, but this move of India will certainly have consequences for other countries, which are economically weak and have hardly vaccinated any parts of their population yet.
American social media giants are becoming lifeline for desperate Indians, but it is a growing threat for Modi
Over the last several weeks India’s Covid-19 disaster has intensified and people in India are using American social media giants to express their anguish about this worsening situation. The government is struggling to give adequate information, but distressed patients and their families have turned to Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or LinkedIn, asking for help. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be cracking down on these platforms in an effort for extinguishing dissent.
This happens as his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was beaten in a state election in West Bengal, generally thought to be a test on whether the disastrous second wave would influence Modi’s reputation. But in spite of the defeat, the BJP made strong gains and became the main opposition party. BJP in the state legislature gained nearly 80 seats, compared to just 3 seats in the last state election in 2016.
Last year in 2020, three in 10 adults worldwide told they wouldn’t get vaccinated
Approximately 1.3 billion adults globally in 2020 stated they would not get vaccinated if one vaccine is given to them at no cost, according to a Gallup poll published on Monday.
The poll, that examined more than 300,000 people across 117 countries last year, revealed that 29% of adults worldwide would opt-out of taking a vaccine given to them for free, while 68% would take it, a figure which drops below the expected 70% to 85% vaccine uptake extent needed for herd immunity to the virus.