New variant risk: why the health crisis in India is a global problem
If the meteoric spread of Covid-19 in India does not stop quickly, it could have dire consequences for the rest of the world. Experts fear that other variants of the virus could emerge in India, undermining the progress already made in fighting the pandemic.
India is currently experiencing the most catastrophic epidemiological situation in the world. In the country of 1.4 billion people, more than a million new cases have been reported in just a few days. This deterioration of the situation is linked to the combination of an insufficient number of hospital beds, the lack of medicines and oxygen therapy equipment and an insufficient number of tests.
However, health officials fear that the dire situation in India will have dire consequences not only locally, but also globally.
Experts warn that improper handling of the virus increases the risk of new variants emerging and could prolong the duration of the pandemic. In addition, the new wave of infections also threatens the economic recovery of India, the sixth largest economy in the world.
Western countries are currently working to vaccinate their own citizens as quickly as possible, but the situation in India shows that there is an urgent need to address the crisis in that Asian country as a priority.
The Serum Institute of India, the worlds largest vaccine producer, was expected to produce and distribute doses of the vaccine to the poorest countries, especially in Africa, as part of the COVAX initiative. But given the scale of the crisis in India, vaccines are now mainly distributed within the country. However, India faces a shortage of materials for vaccine production.
The United States said on April 25 that it would immediately send components to India for vaccine production. In addition, the United States is also ready to provide "drugs, rapid tests, respirators and protective equipment," said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The British government will send hundreds of oxygen concentrators and respirators, and the European Union has also pledged to help as soon as possible.
There have also been calls in the United States to export millions of stored doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to India, which have not yet been approved for use in the United States. According to US epidemiologist and government adviser Anthony Fauci, this option is "being actively considered", but the White House has not confirmed this information.