COVID-19 crisis peaks in India

Ava Wittman, News Editor

Amid rapidly-rising COVID case numbers within India, the country has collected both the record for contributing half of the entire world’s cases last week and for the most deaths within the country in a 24-hour period (4,205). New daily case estimates are in the hundreds of thousands, often falling somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000. 

The mass increase in both cases and deaths has in part been attributed to COVID-19 variants such as the B.1.1.7. strain, which is presently thought to be more contagious and to spread faster through communities. As for the increase in fatalities, India’s medical centers and systems appear to be overwhelmed by the spike in cases, rendering them unable to assist all of those in need; full beds and lack of supplies – especially oxygen – appear to be the main contributors to this. 

Vaccine administration has also slowed by a factor of roughly one third due to a lack of supply within the country. Claims of difficulty making appointments or of sites running out of doses have become commonplace. 

Anger regarding the event has been directed towards India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi asked Indian citizens to consider remaining at home in a demonstration of the discipline that would be required to eradicate the coronavirus. This request was made directly after the Prime Minister hosted a political campaign event thousands of people attended where a lack of social distancing and masks was reported afterwards. 

“Politics overrode any concern about the health crisis that was unfolding,”  president of the Centre of Policy Research Yamini Aiyar said in regards to another multi-thousand person event that was hosted within India’s borders in April. 

The event was the religious ceremony of Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, in which millions of people bathe in the Ganges River. The event was eventually shut down sooner than normal, but not before a state official was fired shortly after suggesting the event be canceled or restricted.