The health ministry has struggled to get its message across.

“Some people still do not believe in the existence of the virus and they do not believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine,” said Dr. Ruba Falah Hassan, in the ministry’s media office.

At many vaccination clinics outside the Sadr strongholds, there has been so little demand that any Iraqi with ID or foreigner with a passport can be vaccinated after a few minutes wait.

Near central Baghdad’s Palestine Street, about 30 people waited for a Sinopharm vaccine on plastic chairs in the Al Edreesi health care center on Thursday. In this middle-class neighborhood most of those waiting appeared to be professionals or university students.

“We ask anyone who took the vaccine to send a message of reassurance in their groups. ” said Afraa al-Mullah, from the health center’s media department. “Anyone who took the vaccine must speak and say, ‘Here I am. I’m fine, get vaccinated.’”

The more that word spreads that vaccines are not harmful, she hopes, the more Iraqis would agree to be vaccinated.

“Iraq’s population is 40 million, 20 million must get vaccinated,” she said, calling the 400,000 who have been inoculated “a drop in the ocean.” She added: “We have people that do not believe in coronavirus. How can we convince them to vaccinate?”

Falih Hassan and Nermeen al-Mufti contributed reporting.

View Source

Nuclear Talks With Iran Could Reach Agreement Within Weeks, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON — The United States and Iran could each come back into compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal within weeks, a senior State Department official said on Thursday, on the eve of what could be a final round of negotiations before an agreement is brokered.

Significant hurdles remain. But the comments were an optimistic signal by the Biden administration that an American return to the accord between Iran and world powers could be within reach.

Briefing journalists on the condition of anonymity, the senior official described the likelihood of an agreement before Iran’s presidential elections in mid-June as both possible and doable. He did not rule out that it could come in the round of talks that begin on Friday in Vienna.

Still, the official cautioned that the United States and Iran continued to diverge on the extent to which each side needed to comply with the original terms of the 2015 deal — namely, unwinding economic sanctions by Washington in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear program.

withdrew from the deal in 2018 to pressure Iran into a broader agreement that would have also limited its missile program and military activities across the Middle East. Later that year, the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran’s key financial sectors, including its lucrative oil industry, to squeeze its economy and try to force Tehran back to the bargaining table.

Instead, Iran resisted the pressure campaign by accelerating its nuclear program and raising its prospects for building a weapon.

President Biden has pledged to rejoin the nuclear accord — but has also called for negotiating a “longer and stronger” deal afterward to curb Iran’s missile program and its support for proxy forces in places such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where they threaten U.S. allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As American negotiators have warned in recent weeks that an agreement on reviving the 2015 deal may ultimately be thwarted, Iranian officials have cast the negotiations in a far rosier light.

Iran’s installation of advanced centrifuges last month.

The centrifuges shorten the time needed to enrich uranium, the fuel for nuclear bombs, and Western negotiators have demanded they be destroyed, Iran’s state media reported. Iran, however, wants to maintain the centrifuges, but would allow them to be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

Asked about the centrifuges in his briefing to reporters, the senior State Department official would not directly discuss them, except to suggest that their capabilities for enriching uranium would exceed the terms of the 2015 agreement.

Iranian state media also reported that Tehran’s negotiators want the United States to drop its terrorism designation against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful arm of Iran’s military. American officials have made clear that they do not intend to lift sanctions or address issues in the current nuclear talks that go beyond the limits of the 2015 deal. The terrorism designation was imposed in 2019.

The senior State Department official left open the possibility of an unrelated but parallel deal with Tehran to immediately release four American detainees held in Iran, regardless of the timing of a nuclear agreement. Iranian officials have also been pressing for a prisoner swap of its citizens being held in the United States.

is presumed dead — in describing intense and continuing discussions through intermediaries to free the detainees.

View Source

As Iraq struggles with vaccinations, an influential Shiite cleric offers a helping arm.

When Iraqi film stars and political leaders posted videos of themselves getting Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to encourage inoculations, most Iraqis ignored them. But officials say that the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s decision to bare his upper arm for a shot last week has persuaded thousands to follow his example.

Iraq received its first coronavirus vaccine shipment in March, but Iraqis wary of any government initiative have been reluctant to sign up. Just over 400,000 people have been vaccinated — about 1 percent of the country’s population of roughly 40 million. Iraq has received about 600,000 vaccine doses.

Mr. Sadr, who commands millions of followers, was shown on video from the city of Najaf at a vaccination clinic, wearing a surgical mask and his black turban. He rolled down the right sleeve of his robe and undershirt to bare his upper arm for the jab.

Health officials said the video had encouraged thousands of people to go to vaccination centers, many of them in southern Iraq, where Mr. Sadr has strong support. In Najaf, a few hundred vaccinations a day were being administered throughout the province before this week. That number rose to almost 2,000 shots on Monday, and the province started running out of doses on Tuesday.

Some who showed up at vaccination clinics in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad held framed photos of the cleric.

Iraq has recorded more than one million coronavirus cases and 15,640 deaths. Many Iraqis have avoided the vaccines amid widespread and unproven rumors that they could cause birth defects or sterility. Iraqis have little faith in government institutions, which have been weakened by years of corruption and mismanagement.

Many underequipped hospitals have also been overcrowded during the pandemic.

At a Baghdad hospital last month, a fire sparked by an oxygen canister that exploded swept through an isolation ward with no smoke detectors and no functioning sprinkler system. A health ministry official said the death toll had since risen to more than 100.

To try to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, Iraq’s government is imposing a 10-day lockdown starting next week as the holy month of Ramadan ends. Malls, shops and restaurants will be closed, and public gatherings banned.

The government has also directed government institutions to restrict access only to those who can show a vaccination card or a negative coronavirus test.

View Source

Europe Takes a Tougher Line on Chinese Firms: Live Updates

working out an agreement in December intended to make it easier for European companies to invest in what has become the bloc’s most important trading partner for goods.

But since then relations have gone downhill because of tension over Chinese policy toward minority groups in Xinjiang province.

Legislation proposed by the European Commission Wednesday would give it power to investigate and take measures against foreign companies that use government subsidies to get an unfair advantage over domestic competitors, an accusation often leveled at China. A separate proposal, also announced Wednesday, is intended to make Europe less dependent on China for crucial goods like semiconductors, drugs and batteries.

The proposals came a day after Valdis Dombrovskis, the European commissioner for trade, said that work on finalizing the December investment agreement with Beijing was on hold because of repressive Chinese policies.

In March, the European Commission sanctioned four Communist Party officials after accusing them of being responsible for human rights violations against members of the Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang.

China retaliated with sanctions against numerous members of the European Parliament, several scholars, and employees of human rights organizations and think tanks which have been critical of China.

In light of the sanctions war, Mr. Dombrovskis told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that “it’s clear the environment is not conducive for ratification of the agreement.”

Europe’s tougher line toward China brings it closer to the stance adopted by the Biden administration, which objected to the investment agreement. But Europe remains divided over how to approach an important trading partner that is also a geopolitical rival.

Markus J. Beyrer, director general of BusinessEurope, a leading business lobby, said in a statement Wednesday that the proposal on subsidies is “a step in the right direction in addressing existing legal loopholes and preventing market distortions.”

But a prominent business group in Germany, which is highly dependent on exports to China, was critical.

“The proposed regulation is very complex and there is a risk that its implementation will lead to considerable additional bureaucracy and legal uncertainty for our member companies,” said Ulrich Ackermann, managing director of foreign trade at V.D.M.A., which represents German makers of industrial equipment.

Facebook banned President Donald J. Trump after he used social media accounts to incite a mob of supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers ruled on Wednesday to uphold the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech.

Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court to deliberate the company’s content decisions, said the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after he used the site to foment an insurrection in Washington in January, Mike Isaac reports for The New York Times. The panel said the ongoing risk of violence “justified” the suspension.

But the board also said that Facebook’s penalty of an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate,” and that the company should apply a “defined penalty.” The board gave Facebook six months to determine its final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.

The board is a panel of about 20 former political leaders, human rights activists and journalists picked by Facebook to deliberate the company’s content decisions, explains Cecilia Kang of The Times. It began a year ago and is based in London.

The idea for the board was for the public to have a way to appeal decisions by Facebook to remove content that violates its policies against harmful and hateful posts. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s C.E.O., has said neither he nor the company wanted to have the final decision on speech.

The company and paid members of the panel stress that the board is independent. But Facebook funds the board with a $130 million trust and top executives played a big role in its formation.

Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency that started as a joke, is on a tear. A surge in the past day pushed it to another record, sending it some 14,000 percent higher than it started the year.

One theory is that the upcoming appearance of Elon Musk, the Tesla chief executive and noted Dogecoin superfan, as the host of “Saturday Night Live” on May 8 could get more people interested in trading the crypto token. It’s as good a reason as any for those who try to rationalize its movements.

The latest bout of Dogecoin mania has somewhat overshadowed what’s going on in Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, which also set records this week and made its 27-year-old co-creator, Vitalik Buterin, a billionaire (in dollars). The price of Ether, the crypto token built on the Ethereum blockchain, is up more than 350 percent for the year to date, outpacing Bitcoin’s relatively pedestrian 90 percent gain — which, for context, outpaces every stock in the S&P 500 over that period.

President Biden signing a law in March to extend the Paycheck Protection Program through May 31, with Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Isabel Guzman, the administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Four weeks before its scheduled end, the federal government’s signature aid effort for small business ravaged by the pandemic — the Paycheck Protection Program — ran out of funding on Tuesday afternoon and stopped accepting most new applications.

Congress allocated $292 billion to fund the program’s most recent round of loans. Nearly all of that money has now been exhausted, the Small Business Administration, which runs the program, told lenders and their trade groups on Tuesday. (An earlier version of this item misstated that the actions it described occurred Wednesday.)

While many had predicted that the program would run out of funds before its May 31 application deadline, the exact timing came as a surprise to many lenders.

“It is our understanding that lenders are now getting a message through the portal that loans cannot be originated,” the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, a trade group, wrote in an alert to its members Tuesday evening. “The P.P.P. general fund is closed to new applications.”

Some money — around $8 billion — is still available through a set-aside for community financial institutions, which generally focus on lending to businesses run by women, minorities and other underserved communities. Those lenders will be allowed to process applications until that money runs out, according to the trade group’s alert.

Representatives from the Small Business Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some money also remains available for lenders to finish processing pending applications, according to a lender who was on a call with S.B.A. officials on Tuesday.

Since its creation last year, the Paycheck Protection Program has disbursed $780 billion in forgivable loans to fund 10.7 million applications, according to the latest government data. Congress renewed the program in December’s relief bill, expanding the pool of eligible applicants and allowing the hardest-hit businesses to return for a second loan.

Lawmakers in March extended the program’s deadline to May, but they have shown little enthusiasm for adding significantly more money to its coffers. With vaccination rates increasing and pandemic restrictions easing, Congress’s focus on large-scale relief effort for small businesses has waned.

The government’s recent efforts have been focused on the most devastated industries. Two new grant programs run by the Small Business Administration — for businesses in the live-events and restaurant industries — began accepting applications in recent weeks, though no grants have yet been awarded.

Tim Sweeney, the head of Epic Games, on Tuesday in Oakland, Calif. He testified in court that he did not know how a verdict against Apple would affect other types of apps.
Credit…Ethan Swope/Getty Images

Last May, Epic Games was making plans to circumvent Apple’s and Google’s app store rules and ultimately sue them in cases that could reshape the entire app economy and have profound ripple effects on antitrust investigations around the world.

Epic’s chief operating officer, Daniel Vogel, sent other executives an email raising a concern: Epic must persuade Apple and Google to give in to its demands for looser rules, he wrote, “without us looking like the baddies.”

Apple and Google, Mr. Vogel warned, “will treat this as an existential threat.” To prepare, Epic formed a public relations and marketing plan to get the public behind its campaign against the tech giants.

Apple seized on that plan in a federal courtroom in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, the second day of what is expected to be a three-week trial stemming from Epic’s claims that Apple relies on its control of its App Store to unfairly squeeze money out of other companies.

Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers of California’s Northern District, who will decide the case, also asked Epic’s chief executive, Tim Sweeney, a series of pointed questions about its potential consequences. She asked whether he had any understanding of the economics of other types of apps, including food, maps, GPS, weather, dating or instant messaging.

“So you don’t have any idea how what you are asking for would impact any of the developers who engage in those other categories of apps, is that right?” the judge asked.

“I personally do not,” Mr. Sweeney said, in his second day on the witness stand.

Apple’s lawyers argued that Epic had attacked App Store fees to shore up a slowing business. Gross revenue on Fortnite, Epic’s flagship video game, shrank in the last three quarters of 2019 compared with 2018, according to an Epic presentation to its board of directors about its plan to fight Apple. The presentation was disclosed in court on Tuesday, along with the executive’s emails.

Under questioning from Apple’s lawyers, Mr. Sweeney said Epic’s own game store was not expected to turn a profit until at least 2024.

Epic’s lawyers said the lawsuit was not just about Epic and Fortnite but about fairness for all apps that must use Apple’s App Store to reach consumers.

“Our contention in this case is that all apps are at issue,” said Katherine Forrest, a lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Epic is not asking for a payout if it wins the trial; it is seeking relief in the form of changes to App Store rules. Epic has asked Apple to allow app developers to use other methods to collect payments and open their own app stores within their apps.

Apple has countered that these demands would raise a world of new issues, including making iPhones less secure.

On Tuesday afternoon, Benjamin Simon, founder of Yoga Buddhi, which makes the Down Dog Yoga app, testified about his company’s problems with Apple’s policies. Mr. Simon said that he had to charge more for subscriptions on the App Store to make up for the 30 percent fee that Apple charged him, and that Apple’s rules prevented him from promoting inside his app a cheaper price that is available on the web.

Mr. Simon said Apple warned app developers against speaking out about its policies in guidelines for getting their apps approved. “‘If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps,’” he said. “That was in the guidelines.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. Its $50 billion endowment cannot be removed or divided up as a marital asset, a philanthropy scholar said.
Credit…David Ryder/Getty Images

When Bill and Melinda Gates announced filed for divorce in Washington State on Monday, grant recipients and staff members alike wondered what would happen to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The message from the headquarters in Seattle was clear: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation isn’t going anywhere.

The foundation’s $50 billion endowment is in a charitable trust that is irrevocable, Nicholas Kulish reports for The New York Times. It cannot be removed or divided up as a marital asset, said Megan Tompkins-Stange, a professor of public policy and scholar of philanthropy at the University of Michigan. She noted, however, that there was no legal mandate that would prevent them from changing course.

“I think there may be changes to come,” she said. “But I don’t see it as a big asteroid landing on the field of philanthropy as some of the hyperbole around this has indicated.”

The foundation, which set a new standard for private philanthropy in the 21st century, has given away nearly $55 billion, giving the couple instant access to heads of state and leaders of industry.

The couple’s prominence has also brought a fair share of scrutiny, throwing a spotlight on Mr. Gates’s robust defense of intellectual property rights — in this case, specific to vaccine patents — even in a time of extreme crisis, as well as the larger question of how unelected wealthy individuals can play such an outsize part on the global stage.

“In a civil society that is democratic, one couple’s personal choices shouldn’t lead university research centers, service providers and nonprofits to really question whether they’ll be able to continue,” said Maribel Morey, founding executive director of the Miami Institute for the Social Sciences.

View Source

Live Updates: Mexico City Overpass Collapse Kills at Least 23

told reporters early Tuesday. “There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”

In the meantime, she said, Line 12 would remain closed as the authorities investigate the cause of the accident. Mexico City Metro advised people to avoid the area.

Ms. Sheinbaum did not rule out the possibility of further incidents on the damaged train line, and said that the avenue that runs below the line would be shut down during an investigation.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, called the crash a “terrible tragedy” in a Twitter post late Monday. “Of course, the causes should be investigated and the responsibilities for it defined.”

Mr. Ebard was mayor of Mexico City from 2006 to 2012, when the new line was constructed, and accusations of poor construction and planning emerged almost as soon as it was opened. The line was closed briefly in 2013 for repairs.

Hundreds of police officers and firefighters cordoned off the scene on Tuesday morning as relatives and friends of people believed to have been on the train gathered outside the security perimeter to seek information.

Ms. Sheinbaum said that at least one person trapped in a car in the mountain of rubble had been pulled out alive and taken to the hospital.

Mexican rescue personnel removing a victim’s body from the train wreck.
Credit…Marco Ugarte/Associated Press

Hours after the collapse, rescue workers were still scrambling early Tuesday to free people trapped inside the tangle of crushed metal and collapsed concrete, which was all that still stood at the site where the train overpass had crumbled.

Dozens searched carefully among the debris, some using metal ladders to climb through the windows of the train cars to pull people to safety. A number of people were taken from the scene on stretchers as the police, emergency workers and some volunteers worked through the night. The rescues had been halted briefly around midnight as the train dangled precariously, but were restarted after it was secured.

A tearful mother, identified only as Elísabet, told the television channel Azteca Noticias that she was searching for her 13 year-old son, who had been out with others in the city center and was on the metro, about to come home. “I spoke five minutes ago with him,” she said between sobs. “He said that he was about to arrive.” She begged the authorities to “give me back my son.”

After the crash, dozens of relatives crowded around the crash site, voicing their frustration to local reporters about not being able to get closer and help get their loved ones out of the debris.

Immediately after the crash, a video showed members of the community, many wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, assisting the injured. Three men could be seen carrying another young man away from the site of the wreckage. Another man hobbled from the scene, bracing himself on another man’s arm.

Others handed out water and baby wipes to help clean the faces of those who had rushed into help.

Shortly before 2 a.m., the Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlaltelolco said that at least five people remained trapped and that search and rescue workers were using a 200-ton crane to assist their efforts. But a short time later, government’s civil protection authorities indicated that there were no longer people trapped in the rubble.

Images from the scene showed the crane lifting one of the subway cars slightly from the collapsed roadway below to allow emergency workers to continue searching for anyone who was injured or trapped.

Speaking from the scene, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that one person had been pulled from a car trapped on the roadway below the collapsed rail line. At least 70 injured people had been taken to the hospital.

Concerns about the structural integrity of the stretch of tracks where Monday’s accident occurred had been raised since a strong earthquake struck Mexico in 2017.
Credit…Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The subway system in Mexico City, the country’s sprawling capital, handles more than four million passengers a day and is the second-largest in the Americas, after New York City’s. And when it was inaugurated in 1969, decorated with Aztec artifacts and Maya-style friezes, it was the pride of a nation.

But in recent years it has become a symbol of urban decay.

There was concern over the integrity of the elevated tracks and support columns on the stretch of tracks where Monday’s accident occurred after a powerful earthquake hit Mexico in September 2017.

The elevated infrastructure on the subway line — known as Line 12, or the Golden Line — was damaged, El Universal newspaper reported.

Later that month, some local residents told El Universal that they feared that the damaged infrastructure might collapse. The newspaper reported at the time that a column between the Olivos and Nopalera stations had suffered structural damage. It also reported that engineers were to conduct an ultrasound survey of the reinforcing steel in 300 columns along Line 12’s elevated portion.

It was not immediately clear what work had been done to address the safety concerns. But there has been a broad decline of the system in recent years.

The Golden Line, where Monday’s accident occurred, was opened in 2012 and is the newest in the system. Yet from the outset, it has been beset by problems.

Trains running over elevated parts of the track had to slow down for fear they may derail. And just 17 months after the $2 billion line was inaugurated, the city suspended service on a large part of it.

Service was later restored, but concerns about the system as a whole have grown.

Last month, one of the capital’s 12 subway lines shut down after a track fire. And in January, a fire ripped through the metro’s downtown headquarters, killing a police officer and sending 30 others to hospital with smoke inhalation. Six subway lines were temporarily knocked offline.

Opposition parties blamed a lack of maintenance for the inferno, and the conservative National Action Party filed a criminal complaint against Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and the head of the Mexico City subway.

In March 2020, one person was killed and at least 41 others were injured when two subway trains collided in Mexico City. Ms. Sheinbaum said at the time that one of the trains had apparently backed into the other. Video of the wreckage showed that the force of the collision had left one of the trains stuck on top of the other, according to Reuters.

The next month at the Misterios station, a railway coupler — a mechanism used for joining train cars — fractured en route to its destination. Although that incident resulted in no deaths, workers asked for more safety measures, El Universal reported.

Another derailment in 2018 sent shock waves through a suburb of Mexico City. A train carrying cargo ran off the tracks, and one of its cars crashed into a house, killing five people.

The most recent serious accident occurred in 2015, when a collision between two trains left 12 people dead. In 1975, another train collision at the Viaducto station killed 31 people and left more than 70 injured, according to El Universal.

After the 2015 accident, the German-based company TÜV Rheinland was hired to examine the circumstances that might have caused it and suggest improvements to technology. The company finished its work in 2017 and was not involved in looking into the strength of existing structures, a spokesman said.

“TÜV Rheinland supervised the development of improvement measures to remedy technical problems in systems engineering,” said the spokesman, Jörg Meyer. “Our activities at that time were not related to bridge infrastructure.”

Melissa Eddy contributed reporting from Berlin.

An eight-second video that captured the moment of collapse showed moderate traffic flowing on either side of the suspended bridge when suddenly it cracked and buckled in a burst of concrete and sparks, falling between the lanes of cars.

Another video taken a few minutes later showed a handful of police officers and volunteers using construction ladders set up against the side of the train to help people down — including several who were hobbling and nearly unable to walk.

Emergency workers moving an injured person on a stretcher.
Credit…Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The crash was so sudden, witnesses said, that there was hardly time to scream.

One moment, passengers were zipping along an elevated stretch of track on Mexico City’s Golden Line, and then the ground fell out from beneath them.

“It happened really suddenly,” one woman told the Mexican newspaper El Universal. “I fell into everyone else. Everyone fell into everyone.”

Hernando Manon, 42, was walking home from work when he felt a tremor and heard a loud crash a few hundred yards up the street.

“There was a rumbling and then sparks. The lights went out, and we didn’t know what happened. Then we heard the sirens,” Mr. Manon said. “As we approached, we realized that the subway had collapsed.”

Surveillance footage showed the moment the overpass came crashing down onto the street, sending the train plunging to the ground in a cloud of dust and debris.

“I heard an explosion — we thought it was a stationary gas tank,” one resident, Eduardo García, told Univision Noticias, a Spanish-language media outlet, adding that he had been playing soccer at the time. Mr. García said he had immediately begun running, before seeing several ambulances.

Enrique Bonilla, 57, who was on the train at the time of the crash, told the television network Televisa that he had felt a sudden movement and heard a loud sound as the bridge was collapsing. He said that people had fallen on top of one another, and that he had vomited. Mr. Bonilla was able to grab onto a pole and, afterward, to escape through a broken window, he said, sitting on the ground after the crash.

It was all over in seconds, Mr. Bonilla added. “Thank god I came out alive.”

View Source

Covid-19 Live Updates: India Becomes 2nd Country to Report 20 Million Total Cases

wrote on Twitter.

The Indian Premier League announced on Tuesday that it was suspending all the remaining matches of the season after several players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. The league had drawn intense criticism for going ahead with their matches in cities that have been among the worst hit.

Made up of eight teams, the Indian Premier League is the biggest cricket league in the world.

Since the league’s season started last month, some of the biggest cricket stars have traveled across the country in so-called bubbles and played in empty stadiums. But even the stringent safety protocols couldn’t stop team members from being infected. At least five people on three teams have tested positive. The competition was scheduled to finish at the end of the month.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the league said in a statement.

India reported over 368,000 new cases and 3,417 deaths on Monday. It has reported more than 222,000 Covid-19 deaths, although actual figures are most likely much higher.

With aid being shipped from countries like the United States and Britain, among others, there was hope among weary residents that the situation could start easing.

Eight oxygen generator plants from France, each of which can supply 250 hospital beds, were earmarked for six hospitals in Delhi and one each in Haryana and Telangana, states in northern and southern India.

One of the generators was installed at the Narayana hospital in Delhi within hours of being delivered, according to The Times of India. Italy has also donated an oxygen generation plant and 20 ventilators.

Keidy Ventura, 17, received a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in West New York, N.J., last month.
Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Medical experts welcomed the news that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in adolescents ages 12 to 15 by early next week, a major step forward in the U.S. vaccination campaign.

Vaccinating children is key to raising the level of immunity in the population, experts say, and to bringing down the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. And it could put school administrators, teachers and parents at ease if millions of adolescent students soon become eligible for vaccinations before the next academic year begins in September.

Pfizer’s trial in adolescents showed that its vaccine was at least as effective in them as it was in adults. The F.D.A. is preparing to add an amendment covering that age group to the vaccine’s existing emergency use authorization by early next week, according to federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and the father of two adolescent daughters, said the approval would be a big moment for families like his.

“It just ends all concerns about being able to have a pretty normal fall for high schoolers,” he said. “It’s great for them, it’s great for schools, for families who have kids in this age range.”

But with demand for vaccines falling among adult Americans — and much of the world clamoring for the surplus of American-made vaccines — some experts said the United States should donate excess shots to India and other countries that have had severe outbreaks.

“From an ethical perspective, we should not be prioritizing people like them over people in countries like India,” Dr. Rupali J. Limaye, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who studies vaccine use, said of adolescents.

Dr. Jha said that the United States now had a big enough vaccine supply to both inoculate younger Americans and aid the rest of the world. As of Monday, the United States had about 65 million doses delivered but not administered, including 31 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to figures collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 105 million adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated. But the United States is in the middle of a delicate and complex push to reach the 44 percent of adults who have not yet received even one shot.

While adolescents so far appear to be mostly spared from severe Covid-19, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top Covid adviser, has repeatedly stressed the importance of expanding vaccination efforts to include them and even younger children. In March, Dr. Fauci said that he expected that high schoolers could be vaccinated by fall and elementary school students by early 2022.

Dr. Richard Malley, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that immunizing adolescents was worthwhile because they can spread the virus, even if they transmit it at a lower rate than adults.

President Xi Jinping on a screen in Beijing last month. The Chinese government’s aggressive brand of “wolf warrior” diplomacy has drawn criticism from other countries.
Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even in China, where propaganda has become increasingly pugnacious, the display was jarring: A photograph of a Chinese rocket poised to blast into space juxtaposed with a cremation pyre in India, which has been overwhelmed by a wave of coronavirus infections.

“Chinese ignition versus Indian ignition,” the title read.

The image drew a backlash from internet users who called it callous, and it was taken down on the same day by the Communist Party-run news service that posted it. But it has lingered as a provocative example of a broader theme running through China’s state-run media, which often celebrates the country’s success in curbing coronavirus infections while highlighting the failings of others.

Chinese leaders have expressed sympathy and offered medical help to India, and the controversy may soon pass. But it has exposed how swaggering Chinese propaganda can collide with Beijing’s efforts to make friends abroad.

“You’ve had this growing tension between internal and external messaging,” said Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin who studies Chinese propaganda. Ms. Ohlberg said of the Chinese authorities, “They have an increasing number of interests internationally, but ultimately what it boils down to is that your primary target audience still lives at home.”

A woman pleaded for oxygen for her husband at a Sikh temple, in Ghaziabad, India, on Monday.
Credit…Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Savita Mullapudi, an international development consultant in Pittsburgh, heard the ping of a WhatsApp message on her phone around 4 p.m. on Thursday. The sender was a former colleague who, like her, was an Indian immigrant who had lived in the United States for years. He had an urgent favor to ask.

With India’s health care system overwhelmed by the nation’s unprecedented Covid-19 surge and hospitals running out of lifesaving oxygen, an Indian charity was scrambling to find oxygen concentrators, which filter oxygen from the air. One manufacturer was based in Pittsburgh. Could Ms. Mullapudi visit the site to vet the equipment?

Like many members of the Indian diaspora who have watched and mobilized from afar as a deadly second wave of the coronavirus has swept across India in recent weeks, Ms. Mullapudi, whose parents and in-laws live there, leapt at the opportunity to help. She called the company a few minutes later but was told the earliest date for a visit was May 8 — far too late.

So Ms. Mullapudi, 44, said she did “the next-best thing.” She asked a few local doctor friends to tap their networks in Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania for their opinions of the company and the quality of its products.

By 9 a.m. the next day, she had received texts and long emails from medical professionals and hospital executives with “rave reviews” of the manufacturer, she recalled, as well as detailed descriptions of the machines’ electricity costs and how long they lasted.

Credit…Aria M. Narasimhan

“The minute I said ‘India Covid,’ I was inundated with responses,” Ms. Mullapudi said. “These networks of people that we all work with or know as friends just churned it around, and that’s what really gave the organization confidence to go ahead.”

Before noon on Friday, the foundation ordered more than 400 oxygen concentrators to be flown to India. Though Ms. Mullapudi described her role as just “one drop in an ocean,” she acknowledged the profound impact of so many small acts of human kindness in the face of such dire challenges.

“Eventually it’s just people helping people,” she said. “That’s the story of hope.”

Pfizer’s vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world’s rich.
Credit…Dado Ruvic/Reuters

On Tuesday, Pfizer announced that its Covid vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer’s biggest source of revenue, report Rebecca Robbins and Peter S. Goodman of The New York Times.

The company did not disclose the profits it derived from the vaccine, but it reiterated its previous prediction that its profit margins on the vaccine would be in the high 20 percent range. That would translate into roughly $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter.

Pfizer has been widely credited with developing an unproven technology that has saved an untold number of lives.

But the company’s vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world’s rich — an outcome, so far at least, at odds with its chief executive’s pledge to ensure that poorer countries “have the same access as the rest of the world” to a vaccine that is highly effective at preventing Covid-19.

As of mid-April, wealthy countries had secured more than 87 percent of the more than 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines dispensed worldwide, while poor countries had received only 0.2 percent, according to the World Health Organization. In wealthy countries, roughly one in four people has received a vaccine. In poor countries, the figure is one in 500.

Foreign domestic workers waited to be tested for the coronavirus in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Credit…Jerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Hong Kong government on Tuesday backpedaled from a plan to require coronavirus vaccinations for all foreign domestic workers after several days of sharp criticism from foreign diplomatic missions and some residents, who called the requirement discriminatory.

Officials had announced on Friday that the domestic workers — largely low-paid, female migrants from Southeast Asia who clean, cook and perform other household tasks — would have to be vaccinated in order to renew their employment contracts. The government has not issued vaccination requirements for any other group in the city, including other foreign workers.

But officials said it was necessary after two domestic workers recently tested positive for variant strains of the coronavirus. Sophia Chan, the secretary for food and health, said that because domestic workers had a habit of “mingling” with each other during their time off — which, under Hong Kong law, is only one day a week — the entire group of roughly 370,000 workers was considered high-risk.

Hong Kong’s vaccine uptake has been slow, and none of its major outbreaks of the coronavirus have been attributed to domestic workers gathering on their days off.

The announcement provoked an immediate backlash, with critics alleging that the government was making scapegoats of the domestic workers, who make up about 5 percent of Hong Kong’s population of 7.5 million and have long endured poor treatment.

The consuls general of the Philippines and Indonesia — the two main sources of Hong Kong’s foreign domestic workers — said that if there were vaccination requirements, they should be applied to all foreign workers. The Philippines’ outspoken foreign secretary tweeted that the move “smacks of discrimination.”

The government denied that it was discriminating against the workers, but on Tuesday, Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, said that in light of the “discussion and attention” that the plan had elicited, she would ask the labor department to “study the specific situation again” and consult foreign consulates. A decision on the plan would be announced later, she said.

Still, the government has said that all foreign domestic workers who have not been fully vaccinated must be tested for the coronavirus by May 9.

Vaccinations have begun at Castello di Rivoli, a contemporary museum near Turin, Italy. The art installation is a wall painting by Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

These days, visitors to the website of one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary art museums are met with a twofold invitation: “Book your visit in advance” and “Book your vaccination.”

The Castello di Rivoli, once a palace owned by the Savoy dynasty, recently became one of several Italian museums to join the country’s vaccine drive, following in the footsteps of cultural institutions throughout Europe.

With the rallying cry of “Art Helps,” the museum near Turin has set aside its third-floor galleries for a vaccination center run by the local health authorities. During their shots, patients can enjoy the wall paintings by Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist.

Comte worked with the composer Egon Elliut to create a soundscape that evokes “a dreamlike feeling,” the artist said, and lulls vaccine recipients as they move from room to room before and after the shot.

“Art has an extraordinarily important effect on well-being,” said Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the museum’s director. She said that she couldn’t have commissioned “a more perfect” backdrop than Comte’s works for a “space to merge the art of healing the body and the art of healing the soul and the mind,” noting that in Italian the words for “to heal” and “curator” came from the same Latin word, “curo.” In history, she said, some of the first museums were former hospitals.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania has taken a different approach from her virus-denying predecessor, stating that the nation could not ignore the pandemic.
Credit…Associated Press

Less than two months after Tanzania’s first female president took office, the government on Monday announced new steps to tackle the pandemic, a significant shift for the East African nation whose late former leader had denied the seriousness of the virus.

Beginning Tuesday, all travelers arriving in Tanzania are required to present proof of a negative coronavirus test taken in the previous 72 hours and must pay for a rapid test after they land, the health ministry said.

The ministry said that foreigners arriving from countries with new Covid-19 variants would be placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government-designated facility, while returning residents would be permitted to isolate themselves in their homes. The announcement did not specify which countries these measures would apply to.

Truck drivers crossing borders will be permitted to stop only at designated locations and could be tested for the coronavirus at random while in Tanzania.

“Based on the global epidemiological situation and emergence of new variants of viruses that cause Covid-19, there is an increased risk of their importation,” Abel N. Makubi, the permanent secretary of health, said in a statement. As such, he added, the government “decided to elevate and enhance prevailing preventive measures especially those with regard to international travel.”

The new measures under President Samia Suluhu Hassan represent a departure from the blithe approach taken by Tanzania’s former president, John Magufuli, who died in March. Mr. Magufuli long opposed masks and social distancing measures, promoted unproven treatments as cures, argued that vaccines didn’t work and declared that God had helped Tanzania eradicate the virus.

His government also stopped sharing coronavirus data with the World Health Organization. Tanzania has recorded no new cases of the virus since April last year, when it reported 509 infections and 21 deaths.

Two weeks before he died, Mr. Magufuli changed course and told citizens to take precautions against the virus, including wearing masks and observing social distancing.

But since her ascension to power, Ms. Hassan has taken a different turn, stating that Tanzania could not ignore the virus. In early April, she said she would set up a committee to investigate the pandemic and advise the government on its response.

“We cannot isolate ourselves as an island,” Ms. Hassan said in a speech last month.

But Ms. Hassan has also drawn criticism at times for not wearing a mask, including at her own swearing-in ceremony, and for addressing large gatherings of unmasked supporters.

Cafes and restaurants have reopened in Greece for sit-down service for the first time in nearly six months.
Credit…Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Greece has reopened to many overseas visitors, including from the United States, jumping ahead of most of its European neighbors in restarting tourism,even as the country’s hospitals remain full and more than three-quarters of Greeks are still unvaccinated.

It’s a big bet, but given the importance of tourism to the Greek economy — the sector accounts for one quarter of the country’s work force and more than 20 percent of gross domestic product — the country’s leaders are eager to roll out the welcome mat.

In doing so, Greece has jumped ahead of other European countries. On Monday, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it would recommend its member states to allow visitors who have been vaccinated. But it remains up to individual countries to set up their own rules.

“We welcome a common position” on restarting tourism in the European Union, Greece’s tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, said in an interview. “All we’re saying is that this has to be forthcoming now. We cannot wait until June.”

Park Avenue between 46th and 59th Streets will go through renovation over the next few years, giving the city a unique opportunity to rethink the famed malls.
Credit…Oscar Durand for The New York Times

At a moment when the pandemic has unleashed demand for open space, plans could transform the medians of Park Avenue in Manhattan and restore them to their original splendor.

Among the options New York City is considering: bringing back chairs and benches, expanding the median, eliminating traffic lanes and carving out room for bike and walking paths.

The revamping of Park Avenue is being driven by a major transit project below ground. A cavernous shed used by Metro-North commuter trains that travel in and out of Grand Central Terminal is over a century old and in need of major repairs.

The work requires ripping up nearly a dozen streets along Park Avenue, from East 46th to East 57th Streets, making possible a new vision.

Removal of traffic lanes is likely to elicit backlash from drivers who complain that pedestrian plazas and bike lanes across the city have made it difficult to get around.

But others say the city would be more livable with fewer cars, making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as polluting less.

View Source

Children were among those killed in the train crash, the mayor said.

told reporters early Tuesday. “There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”

In the meantime, she said, Line 12 would remain closed as the authorities investigate the cause of the accident. Mexico City Metro advised people to avoid the area.

Ms. Sheinbaum did not rule out the possibility of further incidents on the damaged train line, and said that the avenue that runs below the line would be shut down during an investigation.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, called the crash a “terrible tragedy” in a Twitter post late Monday. “Of course, the causes should be investigated and the responsibilities for it defined.”

Mr. Ebard was mayor of Mexico City from 2006 to 2012, when the new line was constructed, and accusations of poor construction and planning emerged almost as soon as it was opened. The line was closed briefly in 2013 for repairs.

Hundreds of police officers and firefighters cordoned off the scene on Tuesday morning as relatives and friends of people believed to have been on the train gathered outside the security perimeter to seek information.

Mayor Sheinbaum said that at least one person trapped in a car in the mountain of rubble had been pulled out alive and taken to the hospital.

Mexican rescue personnel removing a victim’s body from the train wreck.
Credit…Marco Ugarte/Associated Press

Hours after the collapse, rescue workers were still scrambling early Tuesday to free people trapped inside the tangle of crushed metal and collapsed concrete, which was all that still stood at the site where the train overpass had crumbled.

Dozens searched carefully among the debris, some using metal ladders to climb through the windows of the train cars to pull people to safety. A number of people were taken from the scene on stretchers as the police, emergency workers and some volunteers worked through the night. The rescues had been halted briefly around midnight as the train dangled precariously, but were restarted after it was secured.

A tearful mother, identified only as Elísabet, told the television channel Azteca Noticias that she was searching for her 13 year-old son, who had been out with others in the city center and was on the metro, about to come home. “I spoke five minutes ago with him,” she said between sobs. “He said that he was about to arrive.” She begged the authorities to “give me back my son.”

After the crash, dozens of relatives crowded around the crash site, voicing their frustration to local reporters about not being able to get closer and help get their loved ones out of the debris.

Immediately after the crash, a video showed members of the community, many wearing masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, assisting the injured. Three men could be seen carrying another young man away from the site of the wreckage. Another man hobbled from the scene, bracing himself on another man’s arm.

Others handed out water and baby wipes to help clean the faces of those who had rushed into help.

Shortly before 2 a.m., the Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlaltelolco said that at least five people remained trapped and that search and rescue workers were using a 200-ton crane to assist their efforts. But a short time later, government’s civil protection authorities indicated that there were no longer people trapped in the rubble.

Images from the scene showed the crane lifting one of the subway cars slightly from the collapsed roadway below to allow emergency workers to continue searching for anyone who was injured or trapped.

Speaking from the scene, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that one person had been pulled from a car trapped on the roadway below the collapsed rail line. At least 70 injured people had been taken to the hospital.

Concerns about the structural integrity of the stretch of tracks where Monday’s accident occurred had been raised since a strong earthquake struck Mexico in 2017.
Credit…Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The subway system in Mexico City, the country’s sprawling capital, handles more than four million passengers a day and is the second-largest in the Americas, after New York City’s. And when it was inaugurated in 1969, decorated with Aztec artifacts and Maya-style friezes, it was the pride of a nation.

But in recent years it has become a symbol of urban decay.

There was concern over the integrity of the elevated tracks and support columns on the stretch of tracks where Monday’s accident occurred after a powerful earthquake hit Mexico in September 2017.

The elevated infrastructure on the subway line — known as Line 12, or the Golden Line — was damaged, El Universal newspaper reported.

Later that month, some local residents told El Universal that they feared that the damaged infrastructure might collapse. The newspaper reported at the time that a column between the Olivos and Nopalera stations had suffered structural damage. It also reported that engineers were to conduct an ultrasound survey of the reinforcing steel in 300 columns along Line 12’s elevated portion.

It was not immediately clear what work had been done to address the safety concerns. But there has been a broad decline of the system in recent years.

The Golden Line, where Monday’s accident occurred, was opened in 2012 and is the newest in the system. Yet from the outset, it has been beset by problems.

Trains running over elevated parts of the track had to slow down for fear they may derail. And just 17 months after the $2 billion line was inaugurated, the city suspended service on a large part of it.

Service was later restored, but concerns about the system as a whole have grown.

Last month, one of the capital’s 12 subway lines shut down after a track fire. And in January, a fire ripped through the metro’s downtown headquarters, killing a police officer and sending 30 others to hospital with smoke inhalation. Six subway lines were temporarily knocked offline.

Opposition parties blamed a lack of maintenance for the inferno, and the conservative National Action Party filed a criminal complaint against Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and the head of the Mexico City subway.

In March 2020, one person was killed and at least 41 others were injured when two subway trains collided in Mexico City. Ms. Sheinbaum said at the time that one of the trains had apparently backed into the other. Video of the wreckage showed that the force of the collision had left one of the trains stuck on top of the other, according to Reuters.

The next month at the Misterios station, a railway coupler — a mechanism used for joining train cars — fractured en route to its destination. Although that incident resulted in no deaths, workers asked for more safety measures, El Universal reported.

Another derailment in 2018 sent shock waves through a suburb of Mexico City. A train carrying cargo ran off the tracks, and one of its cars crashed into a house, killing five people.

The most recent serious accident occurred in 2015, when a collision between two trains left 12 people dead. In 1975, another train collision at the Viaducto station killed 31 people and left more than 70 injured, according to El Universal.

An eight-second video that captured the moment of collapse showed moderate traffic flowing on either side of the suspended bridge when suddenly it cracked and buckled in a burst of concrete and sparks, falling between the lanes of cars.

Another video taken a few minutes later showed a handful of police officers and volunteers using construction ladders set up against the side of the train to help people down — including several who were hobbling and nearly unable to walk.

Emergency workers moving an injured person on a stretcher.
Credit…Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The crash was so sudden, witnesses said, that there was hardly time to scream.

One moment, passengers were zipping along an elevated stretch of track on Mexico City’s Golden Line, and then the ground fell out from beneath them.

“It happened really suddenly,” one woman told the Mexican newspaper El Universal. “I fell into everyone else. Everyone fell into everyone.”

Surveillance footage showed the moment the overpass collapsed directly onto the street, sending the train plunging to the ground in a cloud of dust and debris.

“I heard an explosion — we thought it was a stationary gas tank,” one resident, Eduardo García, told Univision Noticias, a Spanish-language media outlet, adding that he had been playing soccer at the time. Mr. García said he had immediately begun running, before seeing several ambulances.

Enrique Bonilla, 57, who was on the train at the time of the crash, told the television network Televisa that he had felt a sudden movement and heard a loud sound as the bridge was collapsing. He said that people had fallen on top of one another, and that he had vomited. Mr. Bonilla was able to grab onto a pole and, afterward, to escape through a broken window, he said, sitting on the ground after the crash.

It was all over in seconds, Mr. Bonilla added. “Thank god I came out alive.”

View Source

‘We Cannot Wait Until June’: Greece Bets on Reopening to Tourists

Greece has reopened to many overseas visitors, including from the United States, jumping ahead of most of its European neighbors in restarting tourism,even as the country’s hospitals remain full and more than three-quarters of Greeks are still unvaccinated.

It’s a big bet, but given the importance of tourism to the Greek economy — the sector accounts for one quarter of the country’s work force and more than 20 percent of gross domestic product — the country’s leaders are eager to roll out the welcome mat.

In doing so, Greece has jumped ahead of a other European countries. On Monday, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it would recommend its member states to allow visitors who have been vaccinated. But it remains up to individual countries to set up their own rules.

“We welcome a common position” on restarting tourism in the European Union, Greece’s tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, said in an interview. “All we’re saying is that this has to be forthcoming now. We cannot wait until June.”

View Source

Biden Confronts Coronavirus Vaccine Patents

WASHINGTON — President Biden, faced with surging Covid-19 crises in India and South America, is under intensifying pressure from the international community and his party’s left flank to commit to increasing the vaccine supply by loosening patent and intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies, also feeling pressure, sought on Monday to head off such a move, which could cut into future profits and jeopardize their business model. Pfizer and Moderna, two major vaccine makers, each announced steps to increase the supply of vaccine around the world.

The issue is coming to a head as the World Trade Organization’s General Council, one of its highest decision-making bodies, meets Wednesday and Thursday. India and South Africa are pressing for the body to waive an international intellectual property agreement that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets. The United States, Britain and the European Union so far have blocked the plan.

Inside the White House, health advisers to the president admit they are divided. Some say that Mr. Biden has a moral imperative to act, and that it is bad politics for the president to side with pharmaceutical executives. Others say spilling closely guarded but highly complex trade secrets into the open would do nothing to expand the global supply of vaccines.

promised the liberal health activist Ady Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., that he would “absolutely positively” commit to sharing technology and access to a coronavirus vaccine if the United States developed one first. Activists plan to remind Mr. Biden of that promise during a rally scheduled for Wednesday on the National Mall.

proposal by India and South Africa would exempt World Trade Organization member countries from enforcing some patents, trade secrets or pharmaceutical monopolies under the body’s agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights, known as TRIPS. The idea would be to allow drug companies in other countries to make or import cheap generic copies.

Proponents say the waiver would free innovators in other countries to pursue their own coronavirus vaccines, without fear of patent infringement lawsuits. They also note that the proposed waiver goes beyond vaccines, and would encompass intellectual property for therapeutics and medical supplies as well.

“Many people are saying, ‘Won’t they need the secret recipe?’ That’s not necessarily the case,” said Tahir Amin, a founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating health inequities. “There are companies that feel they can go it alone, provided they don’t have to look over their shoulder and feel like they are going to take someone’s intellectual property.”

The pharmaceutical industry counters that rolling back intellectual property protections would not help ramp up vaccine production. It says that other issues are serving as barriers to getting shots into arms around the world, including access to raw materials and on-the-ground distribution challenges.

And just as important as having the rights to make a vaccine is having the technical know-how, which would have to be supplied by vaccine developers like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — a process known as technology transfer.

on LinkedIn that his company would immediately donate more than $70 million worth of medicines to India and is also trying to fast-track the vaccine approval process in India. The company also posted on Twitter promising “the largest humanitarian relief effort in our company’s history to help the people of India.”

Moderna, which developed its vaccine with funding from American taxpayers, has already said it would not “enforce our Covid-19 related patents against those making vaccines intended to combat the pandemic.” But activists have been calling not just for the waiver, but for companies to share expertise in setting up and running vaccine factories — and for Mr. Biden to lean on them to do it.

issued an open letter calling on Mr. Biden to support the proposed waiver.

On Capitol Hill, 10 senators including Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, urged Mr. Biden to “prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits” and reverse the Trump administration’s opposition to the waiver. More than 100 House Democrats have signed a similar letter.

a handful of governments, including those of Brazil and Thailand, bypassed patents held by the developers of antiviral drugs for H.I.V./AIDS in an effort to clear the way for lower-cost versions of the treatments.

H.I.V. drugs, however, involve a much simpler manufacturing process than the coronavirus vaccines, especially those using messenger RNA technology, which has never before been used in an approved product.

In a Twitter thread, Mr. Amin offered another example: In the 1980s, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline had developed recombinant hepatitis B vaccines and held a monopoly with more than 90 patents covering manufacturing processes. The World Health Organization recommended vaccination for children, but it was expensive — $23 a dose — and most Indian families could not afford it.

The founder of Shantha Biotechnics, an Indian manufacturer, was told that “even if you can afford to buy the technology your scientists cannot understand recombinant technology in the least,” Mr. Amin wrote.

But Shantha, he added, went on “to produce India’s first home-grown recombinant product at $1 a dose.” That enabled UNICEF to run a mass vaccination campaign.

View Source

E.U. Recommends Opening Travel to Foreigners

The European Union will recommend that its member states open borders to travelers who have been fully vaccinated, it said on Monday, clearing the way for the countries to welcome more visitors.

Member states are set later this week to debate the proposal, which was issued by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. Visitors who have received a vaccine approved by the European Union’s drug agency would be allowed to travel freely, and individual countries could still impose tougher requirements on visitors, the proposal said.

The Commission said that if certain member states were prepared to let in visitors who had tested negative, they should do the same for vaccinated ones. Unvaccinated travelers could still be permitted, but countries could require tests or quarantines.

Yet the return of tourism, which the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke about last Sunday, would be a much-needed boon for countries, particularly those in southern Europe whose economies rely heavily on tourism but have been crippled by shutdowns.

The announcement comes more than a year after the first bans on nonessential travel from most countries to the bloc came into effect.

A handful of countries with low virus caseloads, including Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, have been exempt from the ban. The Commission said on Monday that it would expand that list by allowing in visitors — regardless of vaccination status — from countries with virus rates higher than the current limit (though still lower than the European Union average).

If member states accept the proposal, they would also be able activate an “emergency brake” mechanism to suspend all travel from outside of the bloc, the Commission said, to avoid the spread of coronavirus variants.

Countries including Greece, Spain and France have already said they will open for visitors who can show proof of a vaccination or a negative test.

Under the new proposal, visitors would be able to enter the European Union if they received the last recommended dose of an authorized vaccine at least 14 days before arrival.

Travelers would have to prove their status under a vaccination certificate program issued by the national authorities of the country they wished to travel to, according to the Commission. But until that program was in place, governments could also accept certificates from countries outside the bloc, impose quarantines or require a proof of a negative test.

View Source