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US: NATO ‘door remains open’ to nations that meet conditions | NATO News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The Biden administration comments come as Ukraine asks the US and Europe for an accelerated entry into NATO.United States President Joe Biden’s administration is committed to keeping NATO’s door open for countries that want to join once they are ready and able to meet the necessary commitments, the White House has said.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre made the comments on Thursday to reporters on Air Force One when asked about the administration’s position on Ukraine joining the defence alliance.
Jean-Pierre noted that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was currently in Kyiv to affirm US “support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.
“His trip, also emphasises the importance of Ukraine of passing key legislation to advance, rule of law, anti-corruption and economic reforms that will strengthen Ukraine’s democracy and economy and further Euro-Atlantic integration,” she said.
“The Biden administration is committed to ensuring that NATO door remains open to aspirants when they are ready and able to meet the commitments,” Jean-Pierre added.

Blinken said in Kyiv that Washington could increase security assistance to Ukraine after what he called Russia’s “reckless and aggressive” actions in massing troops near its border.
The US is “making clear our commitment to helping Ukraine defend itself with security assistance, with advice, other allies and partners are doing the same, and also making clear that as happened after 2014, the international community is resolutely against any Russian aggression, reckless actions in Ukraine”, Blinken told MSNBC on Thursday.
Blinken also said Biden was keen to visit Ukraine and meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but gave no details on that or on Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO.
Biden pledged “unwavering support” to Zelenskyy in April as Kyiv and Moscow traded blame for clashes in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and Russia deployed troops and weapons to the border.

Moscow announced a withdrawal of its forces on April 22, helping pave the way for a summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could take place as early as June.
Ukraine’s standoff with Russia prompted Ukraine to call for the US and Europe to help accelerate its NATO entry.







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Pfizer expects elderly, those with health conditions to be first From “International: Top News And Analysis”



A healthcare worker gives the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to Norman G. Einspruch, 88, a cardiology patient, as part of COVID-19 vaccination plan for the seniors at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, United States on December 30, 2020.Marco Bello | Anadolu Agency | Getty ImagesHigh-risk groups such as the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions are expected to be the first in line to get booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer told investors Tuesday.The two-dose vaccine has been shown to be about 95% effective against Covid two weeks after the second dose, though researchers who helped develop the shot now say they are beginning to see that strong protection wane over time.Executives at Pfizer and BioNTech previously told CNBC that people will likely need a booster shot, or third dose, of the Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. They also said it’s likely people will need to get additional shots each year.During an earnings call Tuesday, Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said it makes sense to start with those most susceptible, such as older adults and those with chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable to severe illness and hospitalization, such as cardiovascular disease or asthma.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes recommendations to states on who should get the shots first.”We cannot predict” what the CDC will do, Dolsten said.Dolsten’s comment comes after the company reported that sales of its Covid-19 vaccine boosted its first-quarter financial results.The company now expects full-year sales of $26 billion from the vaccine, up from its previous forecast of about $15 billion. It expects an adjusted pretax profit in the high 20% range of revenue for the vaccine.”Based on what we’ve seen, we believe that a durable demand for our Covid-19 vaccine, similar to that of the flu vaccines, is a likely outcome,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told investors on the earnings call.Should Americans require booster shots, the U.S. government would likely need to make arrangements with the drugmakers to supply additional doses and make plans for vaccine distribution.Last month, Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to President Joe Biden’s Covid response team, said the White House is preparing for the potential need for Covid-19 vaccine booster shots. He said the Biden administration has thought about the need to secure additional doses.







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WHO says ‘perfect storm’ of conditions led to India COVID surge | Coronavirus pandemic News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the wave of COVID-19 infections in India is the result of a “perfect storm” of mass gatherings, more contagious variants and low vaccination rates.
India’s new coronavirus cases remained above 300,000 for a sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, while its armed forces have pledged urgent medical aid to help battle the staggering spike in infections overwhelming its hospitals and crematoriums.
The WHO is providing critical equipment and supplies to India, including 4,000 oxygen concentrators, which only require an energy source, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
India’s death toll is now pushing towards 200,000, and hospitals that do not have enough oxygen supplies and beds are turning away coronavirus patients.

“Currently, part of the problem is that many people rush to the hospital (also because they do not have access to information/advice), even though home-based care monitoring at home can be managed very safely,” Jasarevic said.
Fewer than 15 percent of people infected with COVID-19 need hospital care and even fewer will need oxygen, he added.
Community-level centres should screen and triage patients and provide advice on safe home care, while information is also made available via hotlines or dashboards, he said.
“As is true in any country, WHO has said the combination of relaxing of personal protective measures, mass gatherings and more contagious variants while vaccine coverage is still low can create a perfect storm,” he said.
The crisis has led several countries to ban flights from India including Canada, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.
Australia on Tuesday also suspended all direct passenger flights from India until May 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.
‘Devastating’ situation
A doctor in the Indian capital, New Delhi, said the situation in Indian hospitals is “totally devastating”, with ventilators and ICU beds fully occupied.
“There are no beds in the wards, our emergency room is full of patients, they have nowhere to go,” Sumit Ray told Al Jazeera via Skype.
“Our young resident doctors, nurses, are totally traumatised. They’re working really hard but they are devastated emotionally,” he added.
A doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) looks after a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit of the Sharda Hospital, in Greater Noida on July 15, 2020 [Photo by Xavier Galiana/AFP]The Indian government has called on its armed forces to help tackle the situation, described by many as the worst healthcare crisis in modern Indian history.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said late on Monday that oxygen would be released from armed forces reserves and retired medical personnel would join health facilities that are struggling under the sheer number of cases.
Briefing Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the army’s preparations to deal with the crisis, Rawat said any oxygen cylinders the military had would be diverted to hospitals in need of the life-saving gas.
Many patients have been forced to turn to the black market where the prices of life-saving medicines and oxygen cylinders have skyrocketed.
Countries step up aid
Vital medical supplies began to reach India on Tuesday. A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in the capital, New Delhi, though a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had no surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to spare.
France is sending eight large oxygen-generating plants this week while Ireland, Germany and Australia are dispatching oxygen concentrators and ventilators, an Indian foreign ministry official said, underlining the crucial need for oxygen.
India’s first “Oxygen Express” train pulled into New Delhi, laden with about 70 tonnes of oxygen from an eastern state, but the crisis has not abated in the city of 20 million people at the epicentre of the world’s deadliest wave of infections.
Senior US officials pledged sustained support for India in dealing with its coronavirus crisis and said the country was still at the “front-end” of the crisis.
White House National Security Council coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell told a briefing call on the US response that President Joe Biden had told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a phone call on Monday: “You let me know what you need and we will do it.”
A COVID-19 patient breathes with the help of an oxygen mask as he waits inside an auto rickshaw to be admitted to a dedicated COVID-19 government hospital in Ahmedabad, India [Ajit Solanki/AP]Biden said during a media briefing on Tuesday he had spoken at length with Modi, including as to when the US would be able to ship vaccines to the country of 1.3 billion people, and said it was his clear intention to do so.
The president gave no specific date for when vaccine shipments could begin, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the United States could start sending up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as soon as the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Biden said the US would begin shipping other supplies and rendering assistance to India, including Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir and mechanical parts needed for the machinery they have to build a vaccine.







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