Biden Imposes Travel Ban after India Breaks Record for Coronavirus Cases


Dina Shlufman, Staff Writer

President Biden announced that on Tuesday, May 4th, the US will, in response to India’s record-breaking 400,000 new cases of COVID-19, impose a strict travel ban on non-US citizens entering the US from India. Despite having a population of 1.3 billion people, only 150 million Indians are vaccinated, making only 2% of the population protected against the virus. This number is significantly low compared to Israel’s 50%, and the US’s 30.5% of citizens who are fully vaccinated. 

On Friday, April 23rd, 3,500 Indians died from the disease. The lack of supplies relative to the large population has caused many to die from a lack of oxygen supply. The US is in the process of shipping oxygen, masks, rapid tests, and other essentials. The rapid tests are a necessity, NPR says, since there are actually more cases than the number is showing due to the lack of testing availability and the fact that the tests available can take up to 5 days to display results. Some estimates put the number of cases as only ⅓ of the actual number. Especially in rural areas, it is extremely difficult to test the citizens. There are so many bodies that “funeral pyres light up the night sky. Playgrounds and parking lots in the capital, New Delhi, have been converted into mass cremation grounds.” 

Although the Indian coronavirus variant called B.1.617 is not currently on the World Health Organization’s list of concerns, it may be responsible for the sudden spike. The current vaccines on the market promise to protect against some more well-known variants such as that of the UK, but likely do not cover this one.

There is a small silver lining to a large number of cases, however. Although they may keep increasing, cases are expected to peak sometime within May. After that, they are expected to continue to decrease. In addition, as more people become eligible for the vaccine, the end of the pandemic is almost within sight.