A health worker checks a passenger's temperature and pulse at a railway station platform amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India, April 7, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: A health worker checks a passenger’s temperature and pulse at a railway station platform amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

India’s struggles with the coronavirus may diminish the world’s vaccine supply, as the rise in cases has the country focusing on its own increasing demand. 

India is a major supplier to the U.N.-backed COVAX program, which aims to provide vaccines to the world’s poorest countries. But the country has its own crises as caseloads are now the second highest in the world, behind the U.S., and the largest gatherings in the world take place in northern India. More than three million have bathed in the Ganges River as part of the Kumbh Mela festival, and crowds have made it difficult to enforce social distancing and masks.

On Monday, the festival’s second holiest day, India reported 170,000 new cases. Scholars are appealing to the country’s 200 million Muslims to follow protocols as they celebrate Ramadan. 

In response, India shifted its policy and fast-tracked approval of all foreign vaccines that have received overseas approval. 

The worldwide surge in cases prompted the World Health Organization to call for a “reality check.” More than 4.4 million infections were recorded across the world last week, as several countries in Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. have experienced a rise in cases. Confusion, complacency and inconsistency in measures have contributed to the problem. 

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus response. “It is time right now where everyone has to have a reality check about what we need to be doing.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Covid second wave spurs exodus of Indian workers – Asia Times – 4/12/2021
The rapid rise in new cases of Covid-19 in India has sparked fears of fresh lockdowns in commercial hubs and triggered a new wave of reverse migration with workers returning to their home towns.

Nightly prayers at the mosque? Big iftars? Vaccines? Ramadan 2021 brings decisions for Muslims. – The Washington Post – 4/11/2021
While the start of quarantine last Ramadan shut down everything normal about the holy month, for Karim Amin it also brought an unexpected heightened spirituality and creative intensity.

The best hope for fairly distributing COVID-19 vaccines globally is at risk of failing. Here’s how to save it – The Conversation – 4/12/2021
But COVAX’s aim of delivering 2 billion doses to participating countries by the end of 2021 — including 92 low-income countries that can’t afford to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers — is threatened by chronic under-investment, vaccine nationalism and export restrictions.

If Biden listens to Big Pharma on Covid vaccines, the world will suffer – The Independent – 4/13/2021
So far, nearly 800 million vaccines have been administered across the globe, but well over three quarters of these vaccines have been used by the world’s 10 richest countries, who account for over 60 percent of global GDP. In fact, more than 80 percent of all Pfizer’s Covid vaccines have already been purchased by these countries. 

The 30% who could end the pandemic – CNN – 4/11/2021
When losing soldiers flee a battlefield — or people migrate in search of a better life — they are voting with their feet. “Foot voting” lets people control their own destiny, law professor Ilya Somin argues. In America today, people are also voting with their arms, rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated against Covid-19 — and the impact will likely be momentous.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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