India sets COVID-19 case records; US promises to help with supplies

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in India, urging Bay Area officials to intervene and ask the federal government to help.

In India, hospitals have been running out of oxygen and space. A new staggering record was hit over the weekend, 2,600 people died from COVID-19 in 24 hours. In the Bay Area, Campbell resident Vandana Kohli prays her family survives. Nine of them are infected with COVID-19 in India.

"Everybody is afraid to walk out of their house. The minute you step out it's like you have to have your guard up. It's almost like you are breathing virus because every other person around you has it," said Kohli.

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With nearly one million COVID-19 cases reported in three days and 9% of India vaccinated, UCSF's infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi says there needs to be an urgent global effort to help India.

"All eyes need to be on India right now," said Gandhi. "Any place isn't doing well impacts us here in the U.S for example because new variants can emerge. We can't travel freely, people can't come here freely. It's not over until it's over for everyone."

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Luz Pena: "For a very long time India was doing well. What happened?"

Monica Gandhi: "The country opened up and there was a very large festival. The Kumbh Indian festival. Lots of mingling and the virus took hold. It also could be contributor that there is a new likely more transmissible variant in India called the B1617."

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President Biden confirmed the U.S. will assist India providing resources and supplies. U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, Vice President of the Indian Caucus, has been advocating for this intervention.

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"The administration should release the extra AstraZeneca vaccine it means we need military support to assist in getting the oxygen and PPE to the hospitals in India that need them. It means that we need to talk to Pfizer and Moderna about at least a one year waiver on IP so that India can develop vaccines," said Rep. Khanna.

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Luz Pena: "When will India begin to receive that aid from the U.S.?"

Rep. Khanna: "We are in touch with the White House right now. Our hope is that it will be in the next few days."

The U.S. also promised to deploy a team of public health advisors from the CDC to work in collaboration with Indian health officials.

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