India Deaths Top 4,000 As Macron Urges End To Vaccine Export Limits
New Delhi, May 8 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 9th May, 2021 ) :New Covid-19 deaths surged past 4,000 for the first time in India on Saturday in one of the world's worst outbreaks, as EU pressure mounted on Washington to end vaccine export limits and offer a concrete plan to lift patents.
"I call very clearly on the United States to put an end to export bans not only on vaccines but on vaccine ingredients, which prevent production," Macron told reporters at an EU summit in Porto. He was referring to a de facto US ban on the export of vaccine raw materials.
"I do not think that a patent waiver is the solution to make more vaccines available to more people," she said in Berlin.
"Rather, I think that we need the creativity and the power of innovation of companies -- and to me, that includes patent protection." Earlier, Pope Francis had focused on his desire to see patent waivers to "allow universal access to the vaccine." He called for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights, condemning the "virus of individualism" that "makes us indifferent to the suffering of others".
The call for waivers has gained momentum after the United States announced surprise support for such a scheme to enable adequate vaccine supplies to fight Covid-19.
In an AFP interview, World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan meanwhile said "early signs were missed (in India) until it reached the point at which it was taking off vertically", meaning "it's multiplying at a rate at which it's very difficult to stop".
"We are watching in total horror and disbelief what is going on in India and we don't expect that vaccines will be shipped out of India anytime soon," the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Cameroonian virologist Dr John Nkengasong, told an online meetings of African Union health ministers.
WHO president Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the meeting that "what's happening now in many other parts of the world can happen in our Africa if we let down our guard", while dubbing the inequitable distribution of vaccines "not just a moral outrage. It's also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating".
Earlier Saturday, Madagascar received its first batch of vaccines through the Covax global sharing scheme, one of the last African countries to obtain supplies after months of resistance by President Andry Rajoelina.
- EU pushes for exported doses - By Saturday the global pandemic had killed more than 3.2 million people since emerging in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.
Adding to Macron and Merkel's appeals, European Council chief Charles Michel said the bloc was "ready to engage" and to discuss a US offer to suspend patent protection on vaccines "as soon as a concrete proposal" emerges.
India, which reported more than 400,000 new infections on Saturday -- experts fear official data are a gross underestimate -- now accounts for nearly half of the world's new known cases.
Its coronavirus death toll now stands at 238,270, India's eastern neighbour Pakistan began a nine-day shutdown Saturday targeting travel and tourist hot spots, mobilising its military to help enforce the restrictions.
There were strict spacing requirements in place, regular disinfection of deck chairs and toilets and no music at beach bars.
"We've been waiting very long to be able to receive here all the tourists and citizens that want to sunbathe and enjoy the sea," Andreas Kondylis, mayor of the southern Athens suburb of Alimos told AFP.
The tourism-dependent country hope to launch its summer season next week.
The WHO has already given emergency use authorisation to vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.