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A Mother Jones investigation has found that hundreds of visa workers are stuck in India with no way to get back to their families in the United States. India is the in the midst of a shocking COVID-19 crisis. Health officials are reporting approximately 400,000 new cases a day. Hospitals are experiencing shortages of beds, oxygen, and medical supplies. Deaths are projected to reach 1 million by August.
Sinduja Rangarajan, Mother Jones’ Data and Interactives Editor, has reported that hundreds of Indian-Americans are stuck in India, caught up in the United States’s May 4 travel ban. Some are unable to get their legal visas stamped at US consulates in India because they are closed due to the pandemic. “A lot of people who went to help their families and their parents who are dying of COVID, or who went to grieve for their parents, are effectively stranded in India,” Sinduja says on the podcast.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced on May 5 that they are supporting a World Trade Organization resolution to waive vaccine patents in an effort to make vaccines more accessible and speed up inoculation efforts around the world. Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, joined host Jamilah King on the podcast to talk about the impact this decision could have on bringing the pandemic to an end. “The idea that we’re somehow hostage to these drug companies, that’s really not true,” says Baker. “If we can get vaccine production up and running in some of these countries in three, four or five months, that will still be an enormous help.”
Make sure to check out more of Sinduja’s reporting on the unfolding crisis in India at motherjones.com.