Life may be returning to some form of normality in the United States — but “the danger is in front of us” if the world does not band together to fight the pandemic in other places like India, said Myron Brilliant of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. last week said fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear face masks in many settings, both indoors and outdoors.
Some retailers and restaurants have adopted this guidance, easing mask mandates for customers who are fully vaccinated.
“We’ve seen progress here in the United States, we’re getting the pandemic under control, we’re seeing economic recovery in critical sectors, including manufacturing,” said Brilliant, the Chamber’s executive vice president and head of international affairs.
“But we have to be alarmed by what we see in India and the potential for other waves. We’re concerned about Southeast Asia, South Asia,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.
Surge in Asia
Countries such as India, Nepal and Malaysia have seen spikes in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
India, in particular, has struggled with a spike in deaths and infections in recent weeks, with confirmed daily cases topping 400,000 on some days.
“It’s devastating what’s happening there,” said Brilliant, noting that millions of people in India are employed by U.S. companies.
“So certainly, we’re not out of the woods here. The danger is in front of us if we don’t address this pandemic and deal with the challenges in countries around the world, including in India,” he said.
While there may be economic growth in parts of the world such as the U.S. and China, Brilliant said it “doesn’t matter” unless the global community works together to manage new waves of Covid elsewhere.
“This virus is not behind us,” he said, pointing to the cases in India.
“If we don’t put it under control, these countries are going to be severely challenged in dealing with not just the health crisis, but the economic crisis,” he said.
It’s important for countries to respond in a coordinated way, he said.
“The United States cannot act alone. We cannot get out of this pandemic alone, we cannot see economic recovery if we’re going to sell to 95% of the market outside United States — we’ve got to work together to get this pandemic under control,” Brilliant said.