© Reuters. People receive free oxygen assistance at a Gurudwara (Sikh temple), amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, India on May 6, 2021. REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui
BENGALURU (Reuters) – India reported another record daily increase in coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of new cases for the week to 1.57 million, as the country’s vaccination rate fell sharply due to a lack of supplies and transportation problems.
As India’s second deadly wave of COVID-19 continues unabated and its total number of cases now stands at 21.49 million, infections spread from overcrowded cities to remote rural villages that are home to nearly 70% of the 1.3 billion inhabitants.
The country reported a daily record of 414,188 new cases on Friday, while deaths from COVID-19 increased by 3,915, bringing the total number of deaths to 234,083.
Medical experts say the actual extent of COVID-19 in India is five to ten times the official figures.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticized for failing to act sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies have drawn tens of thousands in recent weeks and have become “super-broadcaster” events. “.
His government has also been criticized for delays in the country’s vaccination program, which medical experts say is India’s only hope of controlling the second wave of COVID-19.
The Hindustan Times newspaper on Friday demanded: “Speed up the vaccination campaign, bring the second wave of the pandemic under control …”
Although India is the world’s largest vaccine maker, it is struggling to produce enough doses to stem the tide of COVID-19.
Modi stressed that Indian states must maintain vaccination rates. Although the country has administered at least 157 million doses of the vaccine, its inoculation rate has fallen sharply https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/INDIA/jbyprwkawve/chart.png in recent days.
“After hitting a rate of around 4 million per day, we have now fallen to 2.5 million per day due to vaccine shortages,” said Amartya Lahiri, professor of economics at the University of Colombia. Briton in the Mint newspaper.
“The 5 million a day target is the lower end of what we need to aim for, because even at this rate it will take us a year to get everyone two doses. Unfortunately, the situation is very grim.”
The European Union on Thursday backed a US proposal to discuss lifting patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines with the aim of increasing vaccine supply and access, especially in vulnerable developing countries.
India’s healthcare system is collapsing under the weight of COVID-19 patients as hospitals run out of beds and medical oxygen. Mortuaries and crematoriums cannot handle the number of dead and makeshift funeral pyres burned in parks and parking lots.
Although northern and western India are the most affected by the disease, the share of the five southern states in the country’s daily outbreak of infections fell from 28% to 33% in the first seven days of May, according to the data.
In the southern city of Chennai, only one in a hundred beds with oxygen and two in a hundred beds in intensive care units were vacant Thursday, compared with a vacancy rate of more than 20% every two weeks, according to government data.
In India’s tech capital, Bengaluru, only 23 of 590 intensive care unit beds were vacant, and only 1 in 50 beds with a ventilator was vacant, according to officials in the looming crisis.
New Delhi’s ubiquitous three-wheeled autorickshaws have become makeshift ambulances to transport COVID-19 patients.
“We all need to help each other at this time when we need to get out of this situation,” said Raj Kumar, a rickshaw driver, who is wearing a protective suit. There is a plastic bulkhead between him and the passengers in the back.
“If everyone stays home because they are afraid, then who is going to help those in need?”
Several Indian states have imposed varying levels of social restrictions in an attempt to stem infections, but the federal government has resisted imposing a nationwide lockdown.
“At times like this, people are looking for a sign that politicians are listening … what is happening today is a betrayal of hope and a slap in the face of the dream that was a modern progressive India,” he said. writes columnist Vir Sanghvi in the Hindustan Times.
“We will eventually beat COVID. But by then, thousands more will have lost their lives.”
Aid from foreign countries continued to flow, as shipments from Poland, the Netherlands and Switzerland reached India on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter. .