India should consider a temporary shutdown to handle its devastating Covid-19 surge, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
“One of the things to be considered is to temporarily shut down – I mean literally lock down – so that you wind up not having more spread,” Fauci said Friday in an interview with The Indian Express.
India reported over 400,000 Covid-19 cases in a single day Friday, breaking a global record.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, compared the situation in India to a war. He said the country needs to focus on its immediate needs, like getting oxygen, supplies and personal protective equipment.
“But also, one of the immediate things to do is to essentially call [for] a shutdown of the country,” he said.
“No one likes to lock down the country,” Fauci added. “Well, that’s a problem if you do it for six months, but if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak.”
A medical expert said she is unsure if the US will ever reach herd immunity in the fight against Covid-19, and said that officials need to target a specific group of Americans for vaccinations right now.
“What I really worry about is that those people who are already on the fence don’t get vaccinated, we don’t reach herd immunity come the fall, and then with the winter —because coronaviruses are winter respiratory viruses — we have a big resurgence, maybe we have variants coming in from other countries. And we could start this whole process all over again,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said to CNN’s Michael Smerconish.
“So that’s why getting to herd immunity now as much as possible is really important, and because we don’t have the incentives in place … I don’t know that we’ll get there,” said Wen, a former Baltimore City health commissioner.
According to a CNN poll, about a quarter of adult Americans said they will not try to get a coronavirus vaccine. In the poll, 55% of adults say they have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 45% have not.
Wen said she sees three buckets of people who have not yet gotten vaccinated: those completely opposed to all vaccines, those who have not yet been able to get a shot, and those who are still hesitant to receive it.
The US should be targeting those who actually want the vaccine but have not been able to receive it yet for a variety of reasons, including work or family responsibilities.
“We need to make it really easy for them to get the vaccine. I think we should be closing mass vaccination sites, redistributing vaccines to doctors’ offices, pharmacies, getting public clinics and churches and schools and work places. That’s how to reach those people,” Wen said.
There is also a “big middle” of people who have specific concerns about vaccines.
“We need to address these concerns, ideally by people in their community who change their minds” and show how their lives have gotten back to relative normalcy after being vaccinated, Wen said.
“Just like people did the vaccine selfie, I think we need to have selfies of people now going to bars and restaurants with other vaccinated people to show what a return to 2019 pre-pandemic life could really look like,” she added.
The Kentucky Derby is back — but the race has limited attendance to about 40,000-50,000 spectators.
Derby-goers get their temperature checked and receive a goodie bag with hand sanitizer and other items when they arrive, and they need to wear a mask when not sipping on mint juleps, according to CNN’s Evan McMorris-Santoro.
Fancy hat-clad fans of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby said they were excited and felt safe ahead of the race.
“This year, I think everyone seems to be a lot more excited. I think also with Covid, it’s something fun we can do outside together and the weather has been absolutely beautiful. It’s been great so far,” spectator Brittany Olson said.
“I didn’t feel nervous at all, especially in our seats and everything. Everyone is pretty spaced out, and the mask mandate and everything, everybody is wearing masks. … I’ve been feeling pretty safe here,” Megan Henson added.
The record crowd was 170,000 in 2015.
About 598,882 Americans will have died from coronavirus by August 1, according to the latest projection from an influential coronavirus model released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
That figure is down from last week’s report, when IHME estimated there would be at least 602,723 cumulative deaths on August 1.
The new projection accounts for scaled-up Covid-19 vaccine distribution over the next 90 days and the continued spread of the B.1.1.7 virus variant in the US. Under that scenario, daily deaths are expected to decline through August 1.
In a worst-case scenario, with reduced mask use and increased mobility, the model projects 617,711 American deaths by August 1. If universal mask use was adopted in the US, the model projects 593,938 deaths by that time.
The team noted that virus transmission is currently increasing in 11 states – down from 34 when it released the last projection – highlighting Oregon, in particular.
“Daily cases and deaths continue to decline, signaling that despite widespread circulation of B.1.1.7, the combination of increasing vaccination and declining seasonality is driving a decline in the epidemic,” the IHME team said.
The CDC said Tuesday that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks during certain outdoor activities.
The IHME team said US policy should focus on sustaining mask use until transmission falls, reducing risk of local transmission of the B.1.617 virus variant first identified in India and increasing vaccine confidence.
“Looking ahead to the winter of 2021, the level of vaccination achieved and preventing the circulation of highly transmissible escape variants will be critical to avoid a further surge,” the team said.
India’s union territory of Delhi has extended its lockdown a second time for another week amid an ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases and shortages of beds and oxygen at hospitals.
The national capital will continue to stay under lockdown until May 10, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
The initial lockdown, announced by Kejriwal on April 19, was due to end on April 26.
Delhi is facing an unprecedented second wave during which local hospitals have struggled to provide basic oxygen supply to critically ill patients.
Delhi reported 27,047 cases Friday evening, including 375 deaths.
A plane carrying the first shipment of medical aid from France to India departed from Paris on Saturday.
“There is only one solution to fight the virus: solidarity and cooperation,” Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, a junior minister in the French Foreign Ministry, told journalists while the aid was being loaded onto the aircraft.
“Hundreds of people contributed to the operation, this is the beautiful thing about it, it shows the solidarity from a lot of French people,” Lemoyne added.
The shipment includes eight high-capacity oxygen generators, each providing yearlong oxygen for 250 beds, liquid oxygen for 2,000 patients for five days, plus 28 ventilators and equipment for Intensive Care Units, the French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said on Twitter earlier this week.
The oxygen generators — produced by French company Novair — will “enable hospitals to produce their own oxygen and, crucially, means they won’t have to buy their oxygen anymore,” Novair International Director Jean-Pierre Berlioz said.
“We have built these eight units in a record time, a real feat,” Berlioz said, adding that “this will save lives, so we are incredibly proud of it.”
He said the generators will be operational in India within a few days.
Additionally, liquid oxygen containers will be filled by a French company in Qatar and be sent to India by boat in the coming days, according to Lemoyne.
A new wave of Covid-19 infections has struck Nepal, causing shortages of hospital beds in 22 districts, health officials said on Saturday.
According to Nepal’s Health Emergency Operation Center, the rate of infections has increased “beyond the control of the health system” among 22 districts, most of which are at India-Nepal border.
“Three or four patients with low oxygen rate are waiting for the bed right now, but all the beds [are] full. I feel so sorry for the patients,” said Prakash Thapa, Medical Superintendent of Bheri Hospital Nepalgunj Banke District.
On Thursday, Nepali authorities have imposed a two-week lockdown in capital city Kathmandu in efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Authorities have also urged Nepali citizens not to travel internationally or domestically.
Nepal reported 5,657 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, edging closer to the daily record of 5,743 in October 2020.
The country also reported 33 deaths on Friday, according to John Hopkins University.
India has received 150,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as the country grapples with a brutal second wave of the pandemic, the government said Saturday.
Arindam Bagchi, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, said the doses, delivered to Hyderabad, would be the first of millions to be sent to India.
“Deeply value support from long-standing friend Russia. Over a decade of India-Russia special & privileged strategic partnership,” Bagchi said in the tweet.
India’s drug regulator, the Drugs Controller General of India, approved the Sputnik V vaccine for use last month.
“As [Russia and India] continue dedicated joint efforts to combat the Covid-19, this move is especially important to support the Indian Government’s endeavors to mitigate deadly 2nd wave & save lives,” the Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said in a tweet.
Eight people, including one doctor, died at a hospital in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Saturday afternoon after the facility ran out of medical oxygen.
Speaking to CNN, Dr. SCL Gupta, the medical director of Batra Hospital, said staff had been messaging government authorities, warning them the hospital only had four to five hours of oxygen left.
At around 1:30 p.m. local time, with minutes left, they were running on oxygen brought in by the families of patients while emergency reserves were used for ICU patients.
Out of a total of 326 patients, 300 are hospitalized with Covid-19. More than 200 require oxygen support, Gupta added.
According to CNN affiliate News 18, the hospital received emergency oxygen supply from the Delhi government after facing a similar situation a week ago.
Gupta, who has been a doctor for 45 years, told CNN he had “never seen anything like this.”
“Patients are dying in front of us,” he said.
Delhi hospitals have been facing a severe oxygen shortage as the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
A total of 27,047 cases were recorded along with 375 deaths, according to a bulletin issued by the local health department on Friday evening.
Delhi has reported more than 20,000 cases every day for the past nine days. The total number of cases stands at 1,149,333, including 16,147 deaths.