The U.S. will send desperately needed vaccine supplies and experts to India, overwhelmed by one of the worst coronavirus surges the world has seen, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told his counterpart in India on Sunday.
The U.S. will also consider sending millions of surplus AstraZeneca vaccines to India, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.” AstraZeneca’s vaccine has not yet won emergency use authorization in the U.S.
The offers come as the U.S. and other developed nations draw complaints for stockpiling vaccine while poorer nations struggle to obtain them. Britain has agreed to ship ventilators to India; the European Union is offering oxygen and other supplies.
Sullivan told Ajit Doval the U.S will make available raw materials to help India manufacture Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, along with therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” a statement from National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said.
“The United States also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis,” the statement added. To help speed India’s vaccine manufacturing, Sullivan said the U.S. Development Finance Corp. will back a “substantial expansion” for BioE, which makes the vaccine, to allow it to reach 1 billion doses by the end of 2022.
And a team of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and USAID is being deployed to India to assist.
Also in the news:
►A Rhode Island man is facing simple assault and other charges after police say Michael Caro, 34, of Woonsocket, refused to put a mask on his young child and assaulted a 16-year-old Walmart worker last week.
►”Mobile Vax” buses set to administer 500 COVID-19 immunizations per day have begun rolling in Boston. The buses, a joint effort of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, focus vaccination efforts on Black, Latino and non-English speaking communities in Massachusetts.
►Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans to accept nationwide pandemic restrictions resulting in a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew and further limits on personal contacts and access to nonessential stores in regions with high infections.
►The United States’ land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain restricted to nonessential travel through at least May 21, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 572,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 146 million cases and 3.1 million deaths. More than 290 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 225 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the state, many in CalifoSlab City – fondly called “the last free place” by residents – either don’t want to be vaccinated or remain hesitant to get their shot.
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MIT professors challenge safety of 6-foot rule
Six feet of distance or 60 feet of distance – it makes little difference indoors for avoiding exposure to COVID because tiny droplets tend to distribute throughout closed spaces, an MIT study says. Authors Martin Bazant, a professor of chemical engineering at the school, and John Bush, director of MIT’s Applied Math Laboratory, factor in the extent to which transmission risk is reduced in large rooms with high air exchange rates, increased for more vigorous respiratory activities and dramatically reduced by the use of face masks.
“The current revival of the American economy is being predicated on social distancing, specifically the six-foot rule, a guideline that offers little protection,” the study says.
States begin administering J&J vaccine
California and New York were among states administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine Sunday after their governors signed off on resuming use of the one-dose shot. Use of the one-shot vaccine could expedite mass vaccinations as Americans grow weary of wearing masks and a new study indicates social distancing indoors may not be helping much.
“After additional review of the J&J #COVID19 vaccine, CA will resume administering it immediately,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted late Saturday. “Grateful to count myself one of the 1 million Californians to receive this safe, effective vaccine.”
Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia also have given the green light to the J&J vaccine. Federal health officials recommended pausing use of the vaccine almost two weeks ago after a rare blood clotting disorder was associated with the shot. The government has uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.
Federal health officials dropped the recommendation Friday, saying the single dose vaccine is critical to fight the pandemic and that the small clot risk could be handled with warnings.
The death toll rose to 82 Sunday after an explosion and fire in the intensive care unit of an Baghdad hospital tending to severely ill Iraqi coronavirus patients.
Iraq’s Interior Ministry said 110 others were injured. Negligence on the part of hospital authorities has been blamed for the Saturday night blaze that initial reports suggest was caused when an oxygen cylinder exploded in the ward of Ibn al-Khatib hospital. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi fired key hospital officials hours after the catastrophic incident and demanded that the Interior Ministry complete an investigation within 24 hours.
Relatives were still searching anxiously on Sunday for missing loved ones.
“Please, two of my relatives are missing. … I am going to die (without news about them),” posted a young woman on social media. “I hope someone can help us find Sadi Abdul Kareem and Samir Abdul Kareem, they were in the ICU.”
While much of the world remains hunkered down, the band Six60 has been playing to huge crowds in New Zealand, where social distancing isn’t required after the nation stamped out the coronavirus. The band’s tour finale on Saturday night was billed as the largest concert in the world since the pandemic began.
Equally momentous for a band which met while playing rugby at university was getting to play the first concert ever held at the storied Eden Park rugby stadium. And finding themselves at the apex of world music came as a twist for Six60, which has enjoyed unparalleled success in New Zealand but whose forays abroad have ended without the breakthroughs they sought.
Contributing: Katie Wadington, USA TODAY; The Associated Press