President Joe Biden pledges that the United States will be ready to launch a vaccination campaign for 12- to 15-year-olds as soon as Pfizer’s Covid shot is approved for the age group.

India on Wednesday pledged billions of dollars to boost its flagging vaccine programme, as President Joe Biden said 70 percent of American adults should have had at least one coronavirus shot by July 4.

With vaccines among the main weapons in the fight against the pandemic, pharma giant Pfizer reported a huge jump in profits based on sales of its Covid-19 shot as a growing campaign called for patent waivers so poorer nations can get quicker access.

“The devastating speed with which the virus affects different regions of the country has to be matched by swift and wide-ranging actions,” said Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das, as he announced $6.7 billion in cheap financing for vaccine makers, hospitals and other health firms.

India’s underfunded health system has struggled to cope with this wave, with patients dying in hospital parking lots due to a lack of beds and medical oxygen.

While New Delhi and other major cities have imposed curfews and other restrictions, the government has resisted opposition calls for a nationwide lockdown as it tries to avoid the economic downturn that accompanied such restrictions last year.

“We are just left to die on the streets.”

Vaccine shortages are not an issue in the United States, however, where President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he wanted 70 percent of American adults to have received at least one shot by the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

But the plan to jab teens is controversial, with many experts questioning the wisdom of devoting limited vaccine supplies to a low-risk group instead of sharing it to target high-risk groups around the world.

And Priya Sampathkumar, chair of Infection Prevention & Control at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said: “Vaccinating more people in the US is not going to help us if the variants in India, Nepal and South Asia get out of control and hit our shores.

President Biden said he had not made a decision on whether to support a waiver but that the United States was moving “as quickly as we can” to export doses.

– Bolsonaro under fire –

The British government said Wednesday it is spending 29.3 million pounds ($40.6 million) on new coronavirus vaccine laboratories at its secretive Porton Down research facility to “future-proof the country from the threat of new variants”.

The far-right leader has been criticised for his coronavirus scepticism and what opponents say is his poor handling of the crisis, with more than 400,000 lives lost to Covid-19 in Brazil — the second-highest death toll in the world.

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