Democrat President Joe Biden is finally closing down travel from India after the world’s second most populated country has been devastated by a record-setting coronavirus wave.
“Biden is expected to impose new travel restrictions on India starting Tuesday in light of the COVID-19 epidemic, barring most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States,” Reuters reported. “The new restrictions are on the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are imposed ‘in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 case loads and multiple variants circulating in India.'”
India has officially reported nearly 18 million coronavirus cases with more than 200,000 deaths, but experts believe that those numbers are severely undercounted.
“It’s a complete massacre of data,” Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan who has closely monitored the situation in India, told The New York Times. “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.”
Dr. G.C. Gautam, who is based in India, told The New York Times that “many deaths” are not getting recorded and that the number is increasing every day. He said that officials were undercounting the true statistics because “they don’t want to create panic.”
The New York Times reported in early March that the Biden administration was sitting on tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, which has not been authorized for use in the U.S.
The Times reported:
The fate of those doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine is the subject of an intense debate among White House and federal health officials, with some arguing the administration should let them go abroad where they are desperately needed while others are not ready to relinquish them, according to senior administration officials.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday, “Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the United States has already authorized and that is available in large quantities — including two two-dose vaccines and one one-dose vaccine — and given AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against Covid over the next few months.”
“Given AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against Covid over the next few months,” @PressSec said.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) April 26, 2021
Reuters reported this week that the Biden administration “could” ship only up to 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine “in coming weeks” out of roughly 60 million doses that are available. The report said that Biden was initially reluctant to ship the vaccines even though they were not being used in the U.S. because they had not been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
“With regard to India, I spoke at length with Modi, the Prime Minister. We are sending immediately, a whole series of help that he needs, including providing for Remdesivir and other drugs that are able to deal with this and prevent, in some cases, but recover, help recovery,” Biden said this week. “Secondly, we are sending the actual mechanical parts that are needed for the machinery they have to build a vaccine, and that’s being done as well.”
“I’ve discussed with him when we’ll be able to send actual vaccines to India, which will be my intention to do,” Biden added. “The problem is, right now, we have to make sure we have other vaccines like Novavax others coming on, probably. I think we’ll be in a position to be able to share, to share vaccines as well as know-how with other countries who are in real need. That’s the hope and expectation. I might add, when we were in a bind at the very beginning, India helped us.”
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