NEW DELHI — Within the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, few treasures are more coveted than an empty oxygen canister. India’s hospitals desperately need the metal cylinders to store and transport the lifesaving gas as patients across the country gasp for breath.
So a local charity reacted with outrage when one supplier more than doubled the price, to nearly $200 each. The charity called the police, who discovered what could be one of the most brazen, dangerous scams in a country awash with coronavirus-related fraud and black-market profiteering.
The police say the supplier — a business called Varsha Engineering, essentially a scrapyard — had been repainting fire extinguishers and selling them as oxygen canisters. The consequences could be deadly: The less-sturdy fire extinguishers might explode if filled with high-pressure oxygen.
“This guy should be charged with homicide,” said Mukesh Khanna, a volunteer at the charity. “He was playing with lives.” (The owner, now in jail, couldn’t be reached for comment.)
this month that “the moral fabric of the society is dismembered.”
Over the past month, the New Delhi police have arrested more than 210 people on allegations of cheating, hoarding, criminal conspiracy or fraud in connection with Covid-related scams. Similarly, the police in Uttar Pradesh have arrested 160 people.
“I have seen all kinds of predators and all forms of depravity,” said Vikram Singh, a former police chief in Uttar Pradesh, “but this level of predation and depravity I have not seen in the 36 years of my career or in my life.”
have swooped in to connect those in need with lifesaving resources.
The ad hoc system has limits. Vital supplies like oxygen are still stuck in bottlenecks, and people keep dying after hospitals run out. Vaccine and pharmaceutical makers can’t keep up. Politicians in some places are threatening people who publicly plead for supplies.
Infections and deaths are widely believed to be many times more numerous than the official figures indicate, and in hospitals across India, all the beds have been filled and people are dying for lack of oxygen or medicine.
Accusations by one doctor in Madhya Pradesh have gone viral. The doctor, Sanjeev Kumrawat, said he tried to stop a local activist for India’s governing party from selling access to beds in a government hospital where he works. “We all know that to get a bed is a big struggle all around,” Dr. Kumrawat said in an interview. “Government resources are to be distributed equitably and can’t become the property of one person.”
thousands of vials of fake remdesivir during a bust. A tipster led them to a factory where they recovered 3,371 vials that were filled with glucose, water and salt.
Many other doses had already been sold and maybe even put into patients’ bodies, the Gujarat police said, posing a public health risk of unknown scale.
Those who turn to the black market often know they are taking a gamble.
Anirudh Singh Rathore, a 59-year-old cloth trader in New Delhi, was desperately seeking remdesivir for his ill wife, Sadhna. He acquired two vials at the government-mandated price of about $70 each. He needed four more.
Through social media, he found a seller willing to part with four more vials for about five times that price. First, two arrived. When the second two were delivered, he noticed the packaging was different from the first batch. They had been made by different companies, the seller explained.
The Rathores had their doubts, but Sadhna’s oxygen levels were dropping and they were desperate. Mr. Rathore said they gave the doses to the doctors, who injected them without being able to determine whether they were real or fake. On May 3, Ms. Rathore died.
Mr. Rathore filed a police report and one of the sellers was arrested, he said, but he has been racked with guilt.
“I have the regret that probably my wife would have been saved if those injections were original,” he said, adding that the police had sent the vials to be tested.
“People are using the crisis period for their own benefit,” Mr. Rathore said. “This is a moral crisis.”
NEW DELHI — Dozens of bodies washed up on the banks of the Ganges this week, most likely the remains of people who perished from Covid-19.
States in southern India have threatened to stop sharing medical oxygen with each other, fiercely protective about holding on to whatever they have as their hospitals swell with the sick and infections skyrocket.
And at one hospital in Andhra Pradesh, a rural state in southeastern India, furious relatives went on a rampage in the intensive care unit after lifesaving oxygen suddenly ran out — the latest example of the same tragedy repeating itself, of patients dying while gasping for air.
The desperation that engulfed New Delhi, India’s capital, over the past few weeks is now spreading across the entire country, hitting states and rural areas with many fewer resources. Positivity rates are soaring in those states, and public health experts say that the rising numbers most likely fall far short of giving the true picture in places where sickness and deaths caused by Covid-19 are harder to track.
B.1.167, may be especially transmissible, which is just adding to the sense of alarm.
an Indian news site that has been tracking the string of deadly incidents.
roughly two million doses that have been administered each day over the past few days are lower than the highs a few weeks ago, when some days the country gave out more than three million doses. Many people can’t find any appointments to get the shot. Some vaccination sites have completely run out, officials say.
All this is leading to the sharpest criticism that Narendra Modi, India’s powerful prime minister, has faced since he came into office seven years ago. He has been widely accused of declaring premature victory over the coronavirus and encouraging his country to drop its guard.
Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party remains India’s most powerful political organization by far. But the solid wall that the party has maintained during this crisis may be showing some cracks.
Several party lawmakers in Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state and one controlled by Mr. Modi’s party, have begun to grumble about the way the state government has responded.
reported 12,481 new infections on Tuesday, less than half of what was reported on April 30. And the positivity rate among people being tested for the coronavirus has been steadily falling in the city, to 19 percent from a troubling high of 36 percent a few weeks ago.
In Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, something similar has happened and people are now allowing themselves to wonder if the worst has passed. Mumbai’s positivity rate has dropped to about 7 percent from roughly 25 percent.
chugged into Bangalore on Tuesday morning.
Kerala says it can’t ship out oxygen because it needs its entire supply for its own rising needs. Tamil Nadu, also in the south, is saying the same thing and that it can’t supply its poorer neighbor, Andhra Pradesh, where the 11 people died from the oxygen cutoff Monday night.
“I can hardly imagine what is going on in rural India,” said Rijo M. John, a health economist in Kerala, where the positivity rate shot up to nearly 27 percent on Tuesday, from around 8 percent in early April.
Mr. John said that rural areas were not doing much Covid testing and that many people “may be dying due to a lack of any treatment at all.”
A particularly troubling omen came to a riverside village in Bihar, a rural state in northern India. In the village of Chausa, residents were feeling deeply uneasy after discovering dozens of bodies that mysteriously washed up on the banks of the Ganges.
Nobody knows who these people were or how their bodies got there. Villagers found them on Monday evening. Stunned onlookers crowded around the remains, many with brightly colored clothes sticking to them, floating in the shallows. Images of the bloated bodies have made the rounds across Indian media, unsettling countless people.
Officials said around 30 bodies had been found. Witnesses put the figure at more than 100.
Once in awhile, villagers said, they see a single corpse floating in the river. It’s part of a custom in which some families send the bodies of their loved ones into the Ganges, the holiest river in Hinduism, weighted down by stones. But officials and residents in Chausa suspect that the unprecedented number of bodies they found this week belonged to victims of Covid-19.
“I’ve never seen so many bodies,” said Arun Kumar Srivastava, a government doctor in Chausa.
As Covid-19 has ravaged this area, Dr. Srivastava said he has seen more and more people transporting dead bodies, sometimes on their shoulders. “Definitely,” he said. “More deaths are happening.”
Krishna Dutt Mishra, an ambulance driver in Chausa, said that many poor people were disposing of bodies in the river because ever since the second wave of Covid hit, the price of cremations has shot up from 2,000 rupees, about $27, to 15,000 rupees, about $200, which for most families is an insurmountable sum.
This has become a problem across India. Covid-19 deaths have overwhelmed cremation grounds, and some unscrupulous cremation workers are now charging five or even 10 times the normal price for last rites.
“I drove the entire stretch from Buxar to Chausa,” Mr. Mishra said, referring to another town a little further east. “I have never seen even a few bodies, let alone so many of them, lined up on the river, all through this stretch.”
Hari Kumar and Shalini Venugopal Bhagat contributed reporting.
Mourners in protective gear, or watching from home. Long waits at the cremation grounds. The trauma of loss has become both lonely and public.
NEW DELHI — The lifeless are picked up from infected homes by exhausted volunteers, piled into ambulances by hospital workers or carried in the back of auto-rickshaws by grieving relatives.
At the cremation grounds, where the fires only briefly cool off late at night, relatives wait hours for their turn to say goodbye. The scenes are photographed, filmed, broadcast. They are beamed to relatives under lockdown across India. They are shown on news sites and newspapers around the world, putting India’s personal tragedies on display to a global audience.
Local residents record the fires from their roofs to show the world why they must wear masks even inside their homes. The smoke and smell of death is so constant, so thick, that it covers the narrow lanes for much of the day, seeping through shuttered windows.
The flames bear witness to the devastation wrought by India’s Covid-19 crisis. They show the losses in a country where the dead and infected are widely believed to be grossly undercounted. They stand as a rebuke to a government accused of mismanagement by many of its people.
Before the body of Darwan Singh arrived at Seemapuri — the token given to his family indicated that he was No. 41 in line — the family had done all they could to save the 56-year-old guesthouse guard.
Understand the Covid Crisis in India
His fever had persisted. His oxygen level had dropped to a dangerous 42 percent. For two days, the family could find him neither a hospital bed nor an oxygen cylinder. When they found one, said his nephew, Kuldeep Rawat, he received oxygen for one hour before the hospital ran out.
The family took Mr. Singh home for the night. The next day, they waited for five hours in the parking lot of another hospital. The family paid a bribe of about $70 to get his uncle a bed at a free government hospital, Mr. Rawat said. Mr. Singh died overnight.
With Seemapuri fully booked, the hospital couldn’t immediately hand over the body. On April 25, it was piled onto an ambulance with five others and taken there.
Mr. Rawat said he had to go inside the ambulance to identify his uncle, then move him inside the crematory, where they waited for five hours before his turn at the pyre. The cost: $25 for material needed for the final prayer, $34 for wood, $14 in fees for the pandit and $5 for the P.P.E. kit for family members.
Mr. Rawat said his uncle’s family — mother, wife, daughter, son — was infected. Relatives could not come to the house for mourning and offered their condolences by phone.
“And I am still in isolation,” Mr. Rawat said, fearing that he had been infected during the final rites.
For families living around the crematories, there is no escaping the constant reminder of death as they await what feels like their own inevitable infection.
In Sunlight Colony, a mix of shanty homes and apartments where some of the houses share a wall with Seemapuri, smoke is so constant that many are forced to wear masks inside. Children are given hot water to gargle before bedtime. Laundry is dried indoors.
“Our kitchen is upstairs — it’s unbearable in there,” said Waseem Qureishi, whose mother and six siblings live in a two-bedroom house still under construction next to Seemapuri. “If the wind’s direction is toward our home, it’s worse.”
Anuj Bhansal, an ambulance driver who lives near the Ghazipur crematory, also in eastern New Delhi, said he was worried about his four children, aged 7 to 12.
Mr. Bhansal said that as the cremations reached as many as 100 a day, the neighborhood’s children would run to a nearby garbage hill and watch.
“When they look at flames and smoke coming out of the cremation ground, they ask why it is not ending,” Mr. Bhansal said. “They can hardly understand what is going on.”
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.
Understand the Covid Crisis in India
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
What You Need to Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause in the U.S.
On April 23, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel of advisers voted to recommend lifting a pause on the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine and adding a label about an exceedingly uncommon but potentially dangerous blood clotting disorder.
Federal health officials are expected to formally recommend that states lift the pause.
Administration of the vaccine ground to a halt recently after reports emerged of a rare blood clotting disorder in six women who had received the vaccine.
The overall risk of developing the disorder is extremely low. Women between 30 and 39 appear to be at greatest risk, with 11.8 cases per million doses given. There have been seven cases per million doses among women between 18 and 49.
Nearly eight million doses of the vaccine have now been administered. Among men and women who are 50 or over, there has been less than one case per million doses.
Johnson & Johnson had also decided to delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe amid similar concerns, but it later decided to resume its campaign after the European Union’s drug regulator said a warning label should be added. South Africa, devastated by a more contagious virus variant that emerged there, also suspended use of the vaccine but later moved forward with it.
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 thevaccine 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.