Japan-US ties; India COVID crisis; Oxford concerns about mRNA vaccines

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Today on The Leaders' Brief -

  • In his first face-to-face White House summit since assuming office in January this year, US President Joe Biden met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The development comes a month after US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met and their Japanese counterparts, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi for what they called “two plus two” security talks. After meeting on Friday, President Biden and Prime Minister Suga announced in a joint statement their decision to collaborate in ensuring peace and stability in and around Taiwan.

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent tweet appealing to citizens to keep the Kumbh Mela symbolic is indicative of the dire situation India is facing due to a second COVID wave. India saw a single-day rise of over 200,000 cases last week, at a time the state of Uttarakhand is hosting lakhs of people in the country’s once-in-a-decade religious festival, and four important states are holding elections. Though the country has enough vaccine doses to immunize its citizens, according to health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the situation for India remains alarming.

  • Researchers at the University of Oxford reported last Thursday that the risk of rare blood clotting post-COVID was about eight times higher than that after vaccination. The announcement comes as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s shots are facing visible backlash from various countries over concerns of fatal blood clots as a side effect. Various health regulators have, however, advised the continued use of both vaccines saying that the benefits outweigh the risks.

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