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ENDLESS PANDEMIC IN SIGHT WITH RAGING OUTBREAKS IN INDIA, BRAZIL

Despite the launch of vaccines in many countries, COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc worldwide, with about 3.2 million lives lost and infections known to exceed 150 million.

NEW DELHI – Recent waves of coronavirus showed no signs of abating on Saturday, while devastating outbreaks in India and Brazil have taken daily infections and deaths to record levels.

Despite the launch of vaccines in many countries, COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc worldwide, with about 3.2 million lives lost and infections known to exceed 150 million.

Asia recorded most of the new cases, driven largely by the increase in India. The overwhelming outbreak, which now accounts for more than 40% of new infections worldwide, has overwhelmed the health system in the South Asian country and depleted essential oxygen supplies.

Authorities opened India’s massive vaccination program on Saturday for all adults, but many states do not have enough doses to meet demand, despite the freeze on locally produced vaccine exports.

“There are so many people getting sick … we just wanted to be here as soon as possible,” said Aadya Mehta, 25, who joined a line of around 100 people outside a hospital in the capital New Delhi.

Read Also: Record above 2.45 cr for Covid Phase 3 vaccination

India recorded more than 400,000 cases in 24 hours on Saturday, a global record, but experts say the official infection and mortality figures are far from reality.

More than 40 countries have pledged to send medical aid. A U.S. military aircraft carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, other hospital equipment and nearly a million rapid coronavirus tests arrived in New Delhi on Friday.

But the crisis has also sparked travel warnings and flight bans with governments fearful that the outbreak will spread to their shores.

Australia warned on Saturday that those who break their ban on traveling to India could face five years in prison.

THEY DIED WITHOUT THE SMALLEST DIGNITY ‘

Another vast nation that struggles to inoculate as many people as possible in the face of a destructive peak is Brazil, which has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, 189 deaths per 100,000 people.

He reported nearly 2,600 new coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the April total to 82,266 – the second consecutive monthly record and a sharp increase from March.

The increase has brought Brazilian hospitals to the brink of collapse in many areas, as the total death toll in the country has exceeded 400,000 this week.

Protesters from the Rio de Paz human rights group lowered Brazilian flags and fake body bags into symbolic tombs on Rio’s famous Copacabana beach on Friday, protesting how the government is handling the crisis.

“These body bags represent the Brazilians who had to be buried in shallow graves,” said Antonio Carlos Costa, president of the NGO.

“They died without any dignity.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for minimizing the threat of the virus and for combating measures to stay at home.

The far-right president defended his policies against the pandemic, telling supporters, “I was not wrong about anything.”

The outbreak in neighboring Argentina also continued to worry the government, which on Friday extended the coronavirus night curfew in the capital, Buenos Aires, for three weeks.

US VACCINE FRAMEWORK

In terms of total COVID-19 deaths, Brazil is second only to the United States, where the situation has changed for the better in recent months with the successful launch of the vaccine.

The White House said Friday that 100 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated and more than 55% of American adults have received at least one dose.

The huge effort has meant that restrictions on coronavirus in many parts of the United States can be eased.

Fans wearing Mickey Mouse ears lined up at Disneyland in California when it finally reopened on Friday, more than 400 days after the pandemic forced its closure.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” said Momi Young-Wilkins, a 55-year-old mother, as she took her children to the world-famous park near Los Angeles.

Thanks to vaccinations, some European governments have also eased or are considering relaxing restrictions on coronavirus, including France and Belgium.

But the extremely uneven distribution of vaccines around the world has led to calls for greater access in poor nations and exemptions from patent protections to help boost access.

A U.S. trade official said on Friday that Washington is working with members of the World Trade Organization to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines, but it does not go so far as to signal a commitment to waive patent protections.

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