The COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage India, the world’s second most populous nation, which now accounts for one in every three new cases reported worldwide. On Saturday, India reported over 400,000 daily infections for the first time, while a record 3,700 deaths were reported Sunday. On Saturday, a fire at a COVID-19 hospital ward in western India killed 18 patients. Health workers are rushing to ramp up inoculations. So far, fewer than 2% of India’s 1.4 billion people have been fully vaccinated. This is a New Delhi resident speaking after receiving his first vaccine.
Sahil Kapoor: “The situation is extremely grim. I mean, of course, there aren’t any words that can explain the situation. It’s extremely, extremely grim. The system is at brink of collapse. And that’s the reason why we try to get vaccinated as early as possible. In fact, for whoever I can reach, I would only want to urge that get your vaccination as soon as it’s possible.”
The head of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, warns shortages will persist for months because the government of Narendra Modi failed to prepare for the massive second wave. As India faces an acute vaccine shortage, the Los Angeles Times is reporting the U.S. government and big drug companies last year rejected a WHO initiative to scale up global vaccine manufacturing. The program, known as C-TAP, would have trained manufacturers in Latin America, Asia and Africa to produce the shots once they were approved for market.
In other news from India, Prime Minister Modi and his right-wing BJP party lost key state elections in West Bengal Sunday. Health officials fear that voting and massive campaign rallies in the region will lead to a spike in new infections.
Here in the U.S., the White House said it will start barring entry for travelers who have been in India within the previous 14 days. The order, which goes into effect Tuesday, does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal residents.