The world has failed India, says Fauci, as Covid-19 cases surge

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a White House press briefing on January 21, 2021 in Washington.
  • Dr. Fauci said rich countries are failing India as the country battles a record Covid-19 surge.
  • "The only way that you're going to adequately respond to a global pandemic is by having a global response," he said.
  • India recorded a record of 360,960 new cases Tuesday as its health systems buckle.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor, said that rich countries have failed India in its struggle with a record surge in Covid-19 cases.

In an interview with the Guardian, Fauci said that nations had failed to form a global response to the pandemic.

He said that the crisis in India, where 200,000 deaths have been recorded, highlighted the unequal access to healthcare that was the key problem.

"The only way that you're going to adequately respond to a global pandemic is by having a global response, and a global response means equity throughout the world," Fauci said.

"And that's something that, unfortunately, has not been accomplished.

"Often when you have diseases in which there is a limited amount of intervention, be it therapeutic or prevention, this is something that all the countries that are relatively rich countries or countries that have a higher income have to pay more attention to."

India on Tuesday recorded 360,960 new cases - the worst ever daily case load for a single country - as well as 3,293 deaths, according to health ministry figures.

The total number of infections in India since the start of the pandemic now stands at 17 million, which some experts believe to be an undercount. According to reports, forests have been felled for makeshift funeral pyres in Delhi as crematoriums fill.

President Joe Biden has come under pressure to make vaccines more widely available to countries battling Covid-19 surges.

The US, like other rich nations, had prioritized its own vaccination campaign and ordered more doses than it needed to vaccinate its own population, hoping to reduce the risk of supply-chain problems slowing the process.

On Monday officials announced that the US would be making 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to foreign countries.

Health experts have warned that is too few, The New York Times reported.

While wealthier countries have begun mass vaccine rollouts, developing world nations are struggling with new waves of the disease.

"The United States has really revved up their activity in helping out India … we're sending oxygen, remdesivir, personal protective equipment, a variety of other medications and soon we'll be sending vaccine to help out," Fauci said.

"So I think that that's a responsibility that the rich countries need to assume. Right now it's a terrible tragic situation where people are dying because there's not enough oxygen, where there's not enough hospital beds. We have to try, looking forward, to get as much equity when it comes to public health issues as we possibly can.

"Because we're all in this together. It's an interconnected world. And there are responsibilities that countries have to each other, particularly if you're a wealthy country and you're dealing with countries that don't have the resources or capabilities that you have."

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