NEW DELHI: India on Friday broke another global record for daily coronavirus infections, pushing worldwide cases past 150 million, as the first US emergency aid arrived as part of a major international effort to contain the pandemic.
The United States, however, had good news at home with the vaccination campaign boasting a significant milestone of 100m people now vaccinated.
“That’s 100 million Americans with a sense of relief and peace of mind,” said White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients. The country has distributed 237m doses, and 55 per cent of adults have now received at least one dose. But the pandemic has killed almost 3.2m worldwide and continues to wreak devastation.
The number of daily cases has more than doubled since mid-February, a tally showed, in an explosion in infections blamed in part on a new Covid-19 variant but also on failure to follow virus restrictions. The countries with the highest total number of cases are the United States, India and Brazil.
The continent seeing the bulk of new daily cases is Asia, driven largely by a devastating wave in India which now accounts for more than 40pc of the world’s new cases and has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.
India recorded another 385,000 cases in the past 24 hours — a new global record — and almost 3,500 deaths, according to official data that many experts suspect falls short of the true toll.
More than 40 countries have committed to sending medical aid to India, with a US Super Galaxy military transporter carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, other hospital equipment and nearly one million rapid coronavirus tests arriving in New Delhi on Friday.
The Indian diaspora has also sprung into action, with a collection of overseas volunteers scrambling to locate desperately-needed supplies for Covid-19 stricken relatives, friends and strangers back home.
Compounding India’s woes as cases soared has been its failure to get a much-needed vaccine programme off the ground.
Until now, only “frontline” workers like medical staff, people over 45 and those with underlying illnesses have been given the AstraZeneca shot or Bharat Biotech’s homegrown Covaxin.
As of Saturday jabs will be open to all adults, meaning around 600m more people will be eligible. But several states have warned they do not have sufficient stocks, and the expanded rollout is threatened by administrative troubles.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2021