Grim Image of India Prompts Debate Over China’s Swaggering Propaganda

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 is overwhelmed by the coronavirus. “Chinese ignition versus Indian ignition,” the title read.

The image was quickly taken down 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. Official channels and online outlets often celebrate the country’s success in curbing coronavirus infections, while highlighting the failings of others. Other comparisons in recent months include depicting crowds of shoppers or jubilant partygoers in China versus desolate streets and anti-lockdown protests abroad.

The example contrasting China with India was posted on Saturday on Weibo, a popular social media service, by a news service of the ruling party’s powerful law-and-order commission. The post drew a backlash from internet users who called it callous, and it was taken down on the same day.

But it has kindled debate in China about attitudes toward India, and the tensions between Beijing’s nationalist rhetoric at home and its efforts to promote a humbler, more humane image abroad.

one of his online responses to Mr. Hu. China, he suggested, should be more relaxed about flexing its political muscle. “Where can an 800-pound gorilla sleep?” he wrote. “Wherever it wants to.”

Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin who studies Chinese propaganda. “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.”

the government’s draconian policies in the far western region of Xinjiang and the crackdown in Hong Kong. This combative style, widely described as “wolf warrior” diplomacy, has won praise at home, but drawn anger abroad.

In France, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador to Paris in April last year after his embassy’s website wrote that French nurses had abandoned residents in nursing homes, a claim the government denied.

held a news conference late last year to demand an apology from China after Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, posted a doctored image on Twitter that depicted an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

India and China also exchanged bitter criticisms last year after their troops fought on a disputed border, leading to deaths of soldiers on both sides. But Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India quickly doused those tensions, and last week, Mr. Xi expressed condolences over India’s latest outbreak. China has recently offered to send medical support, including speeding up orders of oxygen equipment.

“wolf warrior” diplomats.

India’s image as a poorer, unruly country was sometimes used in China to “defend a more centralized and authoritarian rule,” he wrote by email. He added, “Many Chinese believe that India has joined the West to counter China’s rise in recent years.”

Under normal circumstances, the Chinese social media post would have provoked public anger in India. But many Indians are preoccupied with the crisis, said Madhurima Nundy, assistant director of the Institute of Chinese Studies in Delhi who is an expert on public health.

“There is too much happening now in India which is distressing, so the primary anger is directed towards the government” in Delhi, Dr. Nundy said. “The anger and distrust that emerged last year against China, because of Covid and compounded by border tensions, has dissipated in light of the present crisis.”

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Australia Bars Its Citizens in India From Coming Home Amid Covid Crisis

SYDNEY, Australia — Before the coronavirus pandemic surged, Drisya Dilin dropped her daughter off with her parents in India, expecting to bring her to Australia a month later. That was more than a year ago.

Now, any attempt to get the 5-year-old to Australia, where she is a permanent resident, brings a threat of jail time or large fines.

She’s one of about 8,000 Australians affected by an unprecedented travel ban that began on Monday, prompted by India’s record-breaking Covid outbreak. It is believed to be the first time that Australia has made it a criminal offense for its own citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.

“I never expected this to happen,” said Ms. Dilin, a hospital administrator who has tried several times to repatriate her daughter to Australia, including on a charter flight this month that was canceled.

a strong preference for hard borders, has pushed isolation to a new extreme. No other democratic nation has issued a similar ban on all arrivals. Britain, Germany and the United States, for example, have restricted travel from India, but have exempted citizens and permanent residents, many of whom are rushing home.

Australia’s decision — announced quietly late Friday night by officials who said it was necessary to keep the country safe — has built into a medical and moral crisis.

Indian-Australians are outraged. Human rights groups have condemned the move as unnecessarily harsh and a violation of citizenship principles. Other critics have suggested that the policy was motivated by racism or, at the very least, a cultural double standard.

medical oxygen; and where crematories are burning day and night amid a deluge of bodies.

Australian officials said the new restrictions — with penalties of up to five years in prison and nearly 60,000 Australian dollars ($46,300) in fines under Australia’s Biosecurity Act — would keep its hotel quarantine system from being overwhelmed.

“Fifty-seven percent of the positive cases in quarantine had been arrivals from India,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Sunday. “It was placing a very, very significant burden on health and medical services in states and territories.”

But for Australians in India, the policy amounts to a stunning lack of concern.

“I thought our passports would look after us,” said Emily McBurnie, an Australian wellness coach who has been stranded in New Delhi since March 2020 and has been ill with Covid-19 for more than a month. She said that the Australian government owed more to its citizens, and added that if her health deteriorated, she feared she would not have access to oxygen or an intensive care bed.

fewer than 300 active Covid cases and where daily life has been nearly normal for months, most people support the strict border policy. In a recent poll by the Lowy Institute, which surveyed Australians before the Indian outbreak intensified, an overwhelming majority reported that they were happy with how Australia has tackled the pandemic. Only one in three surveyed said the government should do more to help Australians return home during the pandemic.

Natasha Kassam, the director of the Lowy Institute’s Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Program, said many Australians had been led to believe that those abroad should have come home by now or had chosen to stay where they were for personal or professional reasons.

The distinct lack of sympathy is tied, in part, to a lack of understanding, Ms. Kassam said. “More than a third of Australians were born overseas,” she said. “Closed borders means separated families.”

Human Rights Watch called Australia’s ban an “outrageous response” that undermined the concept of citizenship by denying people their right to return to their country.

said the travel ban “raises serious human rights concerns,” and the agency called on the government to show that the move was not discriminatory.

While India has the world’s highest number of new infections, it also has an enormous population. Its per capita infection rate is still lower than what it was in the United States and in many parts of Europe during their recent peaks.

Ms. Dilin, who lives in Sydney, where she works in the Covid-response unit of a hospital, said Australia’s treatment of people from India was clearly unfair.

“When the U.S. had the same issues, when the U.K. had many cases, they never stopped anybody from coming back,” she said.

Aviram Vijh, a Sydney-based designer from India and an Australian citizen, said the government’s actions smacked of prejudice.

“Clearly it’s a move that’s disproportionate,” Mr. Vijh said. His cousin, also an Australian citizen, is stranded in India with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, he added. Both his cousin and his wife have Covid-19.

“He’s very distressed,” he said of his cousin. “And there’s no path forward.”

Neha Sandhu, an Australian citizen who managed to return home from India in June, said that along with Ms. Dilin’s daughter, there were several other unaccompanied minors affected by the ban, many of whom had been visiting family in India and were now unable to return home.

“It is totally inhumane,” said Ms. Sandhu, who runs a Facebook group with more than 17,000 followers for those stuck in India.

Australian officials have argued, however, that the move was purely based on an assessment of the risk to public health. Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said the ban was temporary and is set to be lifted May 15, though it could also be extended.

Ms. Kassam, of the Lowy Institute, said the denial of a right to return for Australians in India was the first major test of a policy that most Australians have quietly accepted. She wondered if Australians would be more sympathetic once they knew the details.

“Australians have historically been supportive of tough border restrictions, though these questions have never been asked in relation to their own citizens,” she said. “The idea of fortress Australia is politically popular, but is untested in terms of criminalizing citizens for simply coming home”

Damien Cave reported from Sydney, Australia, and Livia Albeck-Ripka from Melbourne, Australia.

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India’s Vaccine Drive Stalls as it Breaks Covid Cases Record

It was supposed to be a day when India made a bold step forward in its fight against Covid-19, when everyone 18 and older in its vast population became eligible to be inoculated. Instead, several states reported that vaccine shortages had forced them to delay expanding access, and the country’s latest report of cases remained higher than any other has ever reached.

India’s long, nightmarish day began with a hospital fire in the western state of Gujarat that killed at least 16 Covid-19 patients and two health care workers, the latest in a series of deadly accidents to strike the country’s overwhelmed health system.

As families of the sick fill social media with pleas for oxygen and cremation grounds burn thousands of bodies daily, India has gone from declaring victory over Covid to suffering its gravest emergency in decades.

India has pushed the world record for daily new cases higher and higher, reporting 401,993 new cases and then 392,488 over the weekend. It is averaging over 3,000 Covid deaths each day, with more than 200,000 dead in total. And evidence suggests the official numbers vastly understate the toll.

exports have essentially been shut down. The chief executive of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is in Britain, having come under increasingly intense pressure at home.

Less than 2 percent of India’s 940 million adults have been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Officials in Delhi, the capital, and big states like West Bengal and Karnataka have announced that the planned expansion of vaccine eligibility to everyone 18 and older is on hold because of shortages.

“As soon as vaccines arrive, we will let you know, then you can come for shots,” said Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, the BBC reported. “We appeal to you not to crowd vaccine centers in the next few days.”

As long as vaccines are in short supply and the virus is running rampant, experts warn that dangerous variants will evolve, spread and possibly evade vaccines. That could eventually pose a threat even for countries like the United States, where 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said that the only way to break the cycle is to ensure countries like India get enough vaccines.

most common source of new infection in the United States. All of the major vaccines in use have been shown to be effective against B.1.1.7.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s Covid adviser and the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said in an interview with The Indian Express that to get a clearer picture, genetic materials could be sent from India to Britain and the United States to be sequenced, though U.S. efforts only recently ramped up.

Dr. Fauci also said India should consider another lockdown, a politically charged subject in a country that shut down early in the pandemic, some say prematurely. In recent weeks, a Hindu festival with millions of worshipers was allowed to take place and Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared maskless at campaign rallies with thousands of supporters who also weren’t wearing masks.

“No one likes to lock down the country,” Dr. Fauci said.

“But if you do it just for a few weeks,” he added, “you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak.”

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India’s Covid crisis has tarnished Modi’s aura of political invulnerability.

As a vicious second coronavirus wave has made India the worst-hit country in the world, its prime minister, Narendra Modi, is at the center of a national reckoning, one that comes amid India’s stark reversal from declaring victory to suffering its gravest emergency in decades.

New cases have reached about 400,000 a day, a grim world record. Vaccines are running short. Hospitals are swamped. Lifesaving oxygen is running out. Each day, cremation grounds burn thousands of bodies. And a series of accidents at hospitals have added to the grief, with the most recent one early Saturday in the western state of Gujarat killing at least 16 Covid-19 patients and two health care workers.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down posts critical of the government and threatening to arrest ordinary people for pleading for oxygen. Countries including the United States have restricted travel from India.

Mr. Modi’s party and the government declined to answer specific questions but listed actions the government has taken, including Mr. Modi holding more than a dozen meetings in April with Air Force officers, pharmaceutical executives and many others.

In a statement, the government said it “maintained a steady pace of coordination and consultation to prepare an adequate response.” It added that the administration in February had “advised states to maintain strict vigil” and “not let their guard down.”

Any Indian leader would have faced challenges. Hundreds of millions of poor people live cheek by jowl, easy targets for a highly contagious virus. India has long neglected public health — a problem that predates Mr. Modi.

vastly understate the toll. Though India is a vaccine powerhouse, producing vaccines to protect the world, it didn’t purchase enough doses to protect itself, and when infections were low, it exported more than 60 million shots. On Saturday, vaccinations were supposed to open up to Indians 18 and older, but several states reported that shortages forced them to delay their expansions.

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Cricket in India Carries On, Diverting Resources From Coronavirus Fight

As plumes of smoke rose from cremation grounds, where bodies were arriving faster than they could be burned, teams of professional cricket players squared off under the lights of a cavernous stadium named for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

The jarring scenes unfolded on Thursday in Ahmedabad, the capital of Mr. Modi’s home state of Gujarat and a hot spot in India’s spiraling coronavirus outbreak, which is claiming an average of nearly 3,000 lives a day nationwide.

For decades, cricket and its charismatic stars have commanded exalted status in India, where the once-genteel colonial game attracts its biggest and most passionate fan base. Now, public anger is growing at the sport’s marquee international product, the Indian Premier League, which is playing matches in a “bio-bubble” without spectators that has drawn criticism for diverting resources from the country’s wider coronavirus fight.

“There is a lack of empathy for dead bodies lying in crematoriums surrounding your stadium,” said Rahul Verma, a lawyer and die-hard cricket fan who said he had been a devoted follower of the cricket league since it started in 2008. “This game, a gentleman’s game, never was so grotesque.”

oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. Many Indians say they do not know if they are infected with the coronavirus because overwhelmed labs have stopped processing tests.

But one group that seems unaffected is the wealthy and powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India, the regulatory body that oversees the Indian Premier League, which was modeled on soccer’s Premier League in England and features players from around the world.

The board has kept ambulances fitted with mobile intensive-care beds on standby outside stadiums where matches are being played in case a player falls sick. It is testing players every two days and has created a travel bubble between stadiums in the six states hosting matches, including dedicated airport check-in counters for cricketers.

said in a letter released this week that the health and safety of players and staff members were “of paramount importance,” and added that the matches, which conclude on May 30, were a needed distraction in a difficult time.

“When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in,” he wrote.

But the league’s safety protocols have only highlighted the gap between its star players — who have said little publicly in the face of criticism — and the rest of the country.

“That ambulance outside that stadium could have saved at least ten lives a day,” said Ishan Singh, a cricket fan in Delhi. “These players are thieves. Given a chance, they will rob wood from the cremations and sell it in the market.”

The New Indian Express, a daily newspaper, said in an editorial this week that it would suspend coverage of the cricket league until “a semblance of normalcy is restored” in the country.

“This is commercialism gone crass,” the newspaper wrote. “The problem is not with the game but its timing.”

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Human Composting Could Soon Be Legal in Colorado

DENVER — Food scraps and biodegradable utensils are common fodder for compost, but in Colorado, human remains could soon be transformed into soil too.

The Colorado State Legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow composting of human remains in lieu of traditional processes like burial and cremation.

State Representative Brianna Titone, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said she had gone to funerals and, seeing burial or cremation as the two options, thought, “I don’t know if I want either one of these things.”

When she learned about human composting, she said, “It really excited me.”

If Gov. Jared Polis signs the bill into law, which he said he would, Colorado would become the second state to legalize human composting. Washington State did so in 2019, and legislators in Oregon, California and New York have proposed human composting legislation.

Recompose, a company that offers human composting services in Washington, places the body onto a bed of wood chips, alfalfa and straw inside a steel, 8-foot-long by 4-foot-tall cylinder, according to its website. Each body creates about one cubic yard of soil.

“Everything — including bones and teeth — transforms” during the process, its website says. The contents of the cylinder are also blended by Recompose staff members, “which helps to break up any remaining bone fragments and teeth.”

However, nonorganic material like prosthetics and artificial joints are fetched from the cylinder and removed.

Katrina Spade, Recompose’s co-founder and chief executive, said on Wednesday that the company was already looking at locations in the Denver area, where it hopes to build a 50-cylinder facility if the bill becomes law.

Ms. Spade said people in Colorado had expressed interest in Recompose, adding that “there is an ethos of ecological love and respect in the Denver area and in Colorado broadly, everywhere from the mountains to the farming that happens around the state.”

She said that Recompose’s process saved about one metric ton of carbon dioxide for each body that is composted rather than cremated or buried traditionally. Mr. Soper, who represents a rural part of Colorado, said some of his liberal constituents were interested in human composting for its environmental benefits.

Among his more conservative constituents from the agricultural community, Mr. Soper said, there are “farmers or ranchers who really like the idea of being connected to the land that they were born and raised on.”

opposition to the practice.

But Mr. Soper said that for him, the matter was less about explicitly supporting human composting and more about offering the choice.

“Why not?” he said. “Why should the government be prohibiting this type of option to be available to Coloradans?”

Mr. Soper said that Colorado was among the states with the fewest regulations for crematories and funeral homes, making it ideal for new human composting businesses.

Recompose has patents pending on its cylinders, but not on the human composting process, Ms. Spade said, adding that she hopes that human composting becomes “the default choice for death care.”

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Biden to Create Task Force to Help Workers Join Unions: Live Updates

Thodex trading platform shut down last week, more than 60 of its employees were arrested, and its chief executive left the country.

Vebitcoin was a relatively small operation and the losses from it are unlikely to be big, said Turan Sert, who advises BlockchainIST, a cryptocurrency research center affiliated with Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

Ilker Bas, the chief executive of Vebitcoin, told police after his arrest that the platform has 90,000 registered users and had a trading volume of 600 million lira to 800 million lira, or $72 million to $96 million, per month, the private news agency Demiroren reported. Customer losses are probably much smaller, because the same assets are typically traded repeatedly during the course of a month.

“Due to the recent developments in the crypto money industry, our transactions have become much more intense than expected,” Vebitcoin said on its website. “We have decided to cease our activities in order to fulfill all regulations and claims.”

Cryptocurrency trading is little regulated in Turkey, and the number of platforms has proliferated because of the relatively low cost of setting up. Off-the-shelf trading software costs around $100,000, said Mr. Sert, who also advises Paribu, one of the largest cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Mr. Sert estimated that there were more than 90 platforms, mostly “very small mom-and-pop shops.”

The phenomenon is by no means limited to Turkey. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin have attracted the attention of serious investors and become a hot topic on Wall Street. Coinbase, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency trading platform, sold shares to the public for the first time this month and is valued by the stock market at $58 billion. Regulators in the United States and other countries have struggled to keep up with the fast growth of digital money.

The Turkish Central Bank barred the use of cryptocurrencies for purchases this month, citing their riskiness and popularity with criminals, and signaled that more regulation of the sector is coming. The prospect of greater scrutiny could be prompting some platforms to shut down, Mr. Sert said.

Customers of Thodex may have lost $2 billion, a lawyer for the firm’s clients said last week, but Mr. Sert said that figure probably referred to the site’s trading volume and greatly overstated the potential losses. Many platforms exaggerate their trading volume to attract customers, he said.

The total losses to cryptocurrency investors, while devastating to some individuals, are not large enough to push Turkey’s already shaky economy into crisis, Mr. Sert said.

“I don’t think this will create any instability in the system,” he said.

The gap between executive compensation and average worker pay has been growing for decades. Chief executives of big companies now make, on average, 320 times as much as their typical worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In 1989, that ratio was 61 to 1.

The pandemic compounded these disparities, as hundreds of companies awarded their leaders pay packages worth significantly more than most Americans will make in their entire lives, David Gelles reports for The New York Times.

In the course of his reporting, corporate public relations teams employed various tactics to justify their bosses’ big paydays:

Technical glitches marred the Small Business Association’s first attempt at accepting applications for the grant program.
Credit…Zack Wittman for The New York Times

Music club operators, theater owners and others in the live-event market have been waiting nearly four months for a $16 billion federal grant fund for their industry to start taking applications. Their hopes were briefly raised two weeks ago when the program’s application website opened, then dashed as a technical malfunction prevented the site from accepting any applications.

Now, the Small Business Administration, the federal agency that runs the program, plans to try again on Monday at noon — but only after one last round of confusion and frustration.

Late Thursday, the agency announced that it would reopen its application system for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant on Saturday. After heavy pushback from angry applicants — especially Jewish business owners who do not use electronics on Saturdays in observation of the Sabbath — the agency changed course Friday night and rescheduled the reopening for Monday.

“We understand the challenges a weekend opening would bring, and to ensure the greatest number of businesses can apply for these funds, we decided to reschedule,” the agency said in a statement. “We remain committed to delivering economic aid to this hard-hit sector quickly and efficiently.”

The money will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis and is widely expected to run out fast. That means many applicants will feel pressure to submit paperwork as soon as the application system opens — even if it is at an inconvenient time.

Applicants were generally relieved by the shift to Monday, but annoyed by the whiplash.

“It’s been a mess on so many levels. I feel like they’re torturing us,” said Dani Zoldan, the owner of Stand Up NY, a comedy club in Manhattan. Mr. Zoldan is Jewish and had been vocal on Twitter about the obstacles of a Saturday start.

The National Independent Venue Association, an industry group that lobbied for the relief fund, said it endorsed the decision to postpone the start.

“While we’re all anxious to apply as soon as possible, we support the S.B.A.’s decision to reopen the portal Monday and encourage a fair and equitable process for all,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, a spokeswoman for the group. “The S.B.A. has responded to our desperate need and we’re grateful for that.”

The Small Business Administration is also preparing to open a second grant program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is a $28.6 billion support fund for bars, restaurants and food trucks. That program is planning a seven-day test to help the agency avoid the kind of technical problems that plagued the venue program.

A Meituan delivery worker in Shanghai. Last year the firm made more than 27 million food-delivery transactions per day.
Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

China’s fast-moving campaign to rein in its internet giants is continuing apace with an antitrust investigation into Meituan, a leading food-delivery app.

The investigation, which the country’s market regulator announced with a terse, one-line statement on Monday, focuses on reports that the company blocked restaurants and other merchants on its platform from selling on rival food-delivery sites.

Earlier this month, the regulator imposed a record $2.8 billion fine on the e-commerce titan Alibaba for exclusivity requirements of this sort. In a statement on Chinese social media, Meituan said that it would cooperate with the authorities and that its operations were continuing as usual.

Meituan is a powerhouse in China. It made more than 27 million food-delivery transactions a day last year and reported around $18 billion in revenue, making it larger than Uber by sales. Meituan’s main rival in takeout delivery in China is Ele.me, a service owned by Alibaba.

Alibaba has been an early major target in China’s efforts to curb what officials describe as unfair competitive practices in the internet industry. But Beijing has made clear that it will be keeping a much closer eye on all of the sector’s biggest and richest companies.

Meituan was one of 34 Chinese internet firms that were summoned to meet with the antitrust authority this month. The following day, the regulator began publishing on its website statements from the companies, Meituan included, in which they vowed to obey laws and regulations.

Bodies awaiting cremation on Friday in East Delhi.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

NEW DELHI — With a devastating second wave of Covid-19 sweeping across India and lifesaving supplemental oxygen in short supply, India’s government on Sunday said it had ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down dozens of social media posts critical of its handling of the pandemic.

The order was aimed at roughly 100 posts that included critiques from opposition politicians and calls for Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to resign. The government said that the posts could incite panic, used images out of context and could hinder its response to the pandemic.

The companies complied with the requests for now, in part by making the posts invisible to those using the sites inside India. In the past, the companies have reposted some content after determining that it didn’t break the law.

The takedown orders come as India’s public health crisis spirals into a political one, and set the stage for a widening struggle between American social media platforms and Mr. Modi’s government over who decides what can be said online.

On Monday, the country reported almost 353,000 new infections and 2,812 deaths, marking the fifth consecutive day it set a world record in daily infection statistics, though experts warn that the true numbers are probably much higher. The country now accounts for almost half of all new cases globally. Its health system appears to be teetering. Hospitals across the country have scrambled to get enough oxygen for patients.

In New Delhi, the capital, hospitals this weekend turned away patients after running out of oxygen and beds. Last week, at least 22 patients were killed in a hospital in the city of Nashik, after a leak cut off their oxygen supplies.

Online photos of bodies on plywood hospital beds and the countless fires of overworked crematories have gone viral. Desperate patients and their families have pleaded online for help from the government, horrifying an international audience.

Mr. Modi has been under attack for ignoring the advice of experts about the risks of loosening restrictions, after he held large political rallies with little regard for social distancing. Some of the content now offline in India highlighted that contradiction, using lurid images to contrast Mr. Modi’s rallies with the flames of funeral pyres.

People waiting to get vaccinated in New Orleans this month.
Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

More than five million Americans, or nearly 8 percent of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccination campaign.

Even as the country wrestles with the problem of millions of people who are wary about getting vaccinated at all, local health officials are confronting a new challenge of ensuring that those who do get inoculated are doing so fully, Rebecca Robbins reports for The New York Times.

The reasons that people are missing their second shots vary. In interviews, some said they feared the side effects, including flulike symptoms, which were more common and stronger after the second dose. Others said they felt that they were sufficiently protected with a single shot.

Those attitudes were expected, but another hurdle has been surprisingly prevalent. A number of vaccine providers have canceled second-dose appointments because they ran out of supply or didn’t have the right brand in stock.

Walgreens, one of the biggest vaccine providers, sent some people who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get their second doses at pharmacies that had only the other vaccine on hand.

Several Walgreens customers said in interviews that they scrambled, in some cases with help from pharmacy staff members, to find somewhere to get the correct second dose. Others, presumably, simply gave up.

A makeshift ward for Covid-19 patients in Delhi. The rollout of vaccinations has been uneven around the world, allowing the disease to run rampant in some countries.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

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U.S. to Send Virus-Ravaged India Materials for Vaccines

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration, under increasing pressure to address a devastating surge of the coronavirus in India, said on Sunday that it had partially lifted a ban on the export of raw materials for vaccines and would also supply India with therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective gear.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement on Sunday.

The announcement, an abrupt shift for the administration, came after Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, held a call earlier in the day with Ajit Doval, his counterpart in India, and as the Indian government reported more than 349,000 new infections, a world record for a single day. Ms. Horne said the United States had “identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine,” the Indian-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The situation in India is dire. The country is witnessing perhaps the worst crisis any nation has suffered since the pandemic began, with hospitals overflowing and desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors — and mounting evidence that the actual death toll is far higher than officially reported. Officials say they are running desperately low on supplies, including oxygen and protective gear, as a deadly new variant is thought to be behind a rise in cases.

New York Times database — even though India is producing two vaccines on its own soil.

Yet even as horrifying images of strained hospitals and orange flames from mass cremation sites circulated around the world last week, administration officials had pushed back as pressure mounted for the United States to broaden its effort to combat the surge in India. For Mr. Biden, the crisis in India amounts to a clash of competing forces. The president came into office vowing to restore America’s place as a leader in global health, and he has repeatedly said the pandemic does not stop at the nation’s borders.

But he is also grappling with the legacy of his predecessor’s “America First” approach, and he must weigh his instincts to help the world against the threat of a political backlash for giving vaccines away before every American has had a chance to get a shot. As of Sunday, 28.5 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated, and 42.2 percent had had at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first, but we’re then going to try and help the rest of the world,” Mr. Biden said last month, after he committed to providing financial support to help Biological E, a major vaccine manufacturer in India, produce at least one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2022.

But Mr. Biden’s commitments have gone only so far. India and South Africa have asked the World Trade Organization for a temporary waiver to an international intellectual property agreement that would give poorer countries easier access to generic versions of coronavirus vaccines and treatments. The administration is blocking that request.

Canada and Mexico.

Tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are sitting stockpiled in the United States, and Mr. Biden said last week that he was considering sharing more. But the vaccine was manufactured at the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore, where production has been halted amid concerns about possible contamination.

“We’re looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using,” the president said on Wednesday. “We’ve got to make sure they are safe to be sent.”

The statement on Sunday did not mention the possibility of the United States directly sending vaccines to India. But in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said the United States would consider sending some doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine there.

“I don’t want to be speaking for policy right now with you, but, I mean, that’s something that certainly is going to be actively considered,” Dr. Fauci said.

India is home to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker. But vaccine production has lagged behind the needs of India’s 1.3 billion people. Adar Poonawalla, the institute’s chief executive, appealed to Mr. Biden in mid-April over Twitter.

would not lift its ban, Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, told reporters that “the United States first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people.”

The resistance was met with criticism from Indian politicians and health experts.

“By stockpiling vaccines & blocking the export of crucial raw materials needed for vaccine production, the United States is undermining the strategic Indo-US partnership,” Milind Deora, a politician from Mumbai, one of the hardest-hit cities, said on Twitter.

In addition to assisting India with protective gear and raw materials, Ms. Horne said on Sunday that the United States would deploy a team of public health advisers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from New Delhi, and Chris Cameron from Washington.

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U.S. to Send India Vaccine Materials and Other Aid

Under pressure from vaccine makers in India who say they need supplies to combat a surge in coronavirus cases, the Biden administration said on Sunday that it had partially lifted a ban against the export of raw materials needed to make vaccines.

“The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the national security counsel, said in a statement on Sunday. Covishield is the India-produced version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

The announcement came after Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, held a call earlier in the day with Ajit Doval, his counterpart in India, and a day after the Indian government reported more than 346,000 new infections, a world record. Government officials in India say they are running desperately low on supplies, including oxygen and protective gear. A new variant, B.1.617, is thought to be at least partly the cause of the catastrophic rise in cases.

Previously, Biden administration officials had pushed back as pressure mounted for the United States to broaden its effort to combat the surge in India, even as horrifying images of strained hospitals and orange flames from mass cremation sites circulated around the world.

would not lift its ban on exporting raw materials, Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, told reporters that “the United States first and foremost is engaged in an ambitious and effective and, so far, successful effort to vaccinate the American people.”

The resistance was met with criticism from Indian politicians and health experts.

“By stockpiling vaccines & blocking the export of crucial raw materials needed for vaccine production, the United States is undermining the strategic Indo-US partnership,” Milind Deora, a politician from Mumbai, one of the hardest-hit cities, said on Twitter.

appealed to Mr. Biden less than two weeks ago to “lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up.” His company this week faced criticism in India for the high price of its vaccines.

manufactured at a troubled Baltimore factory operated by Emergent BioSolutions. On April 16, the factory halted operations at the request of the Food and Drug Administration after the discovery that some doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also made there had been contaminated with components from the AstraZeneca vaccine, and vice versa.

Canadian and Mexican officials said that they had received assurances from AstraZeneca that the millions of doses they received were safe. Some of the doses have been distributed to the public in both countries, the officials said.

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