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COVID kills 120 people an hour in India and it can remain “really gloomy” for months



New Delhi One month after the second wave of coronavirus infections began to sweep across India, the country is riddled with grief, and it may take weeks, even months, before the situation improves. On Tuesday, another bleak milestone was crossed: 20 million cases of COVID-19 registered since the pandemic started. Approx. seven million of them were confirmed during the last month alone.

Of the total 222,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the country, more than 57,000 have been registered during the last month. It is about 80 deaths per hour, and since the government̵

7;s toll only includes COVID deaths registered in hospitals, many believe that the real toll is much higher. Even the official death rate continues to rise. Over the past two weeks, the virus has claimed an average of 120 lives every hour.

“I have lost all hope,” Lily Priyamvada Pant told CBS News at a crematorium in Delhi on Sunday. She had just seen her 40-year-old son’s funeral bonfire burn. Her entire family got the virus, and her husband was still in an intensive care unit without realizing that his eldest son was subject to the disease.

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People see the cremation of people who died due to COVID-19 in Sahudangi Crematorium, about 15 km from Siliguri, India, May 4, 2021.

DIPTENDU DUTTA / AFP / Getty


“Doctors told me that if you tell him, he will not survive,” she said. “He’s the CEO of a company and the director of many companies … but he could not help with anything.”

The feeling of helplessness is known in the cities of India now and there is as yet no sign that the dizzying rate of infection is starting to drop rapidly. The large number of people suffering from the disease has paralyzed the country’s health system, even in the richest mega – cities.

It was reported on Tuesday that dozens of US embassy staff in Delhi were among the most recently confirmed infections, but a spokesman for the embassy told CBS News that while the health and safety of staff and their families were “among the [State] The institute’s highest priorities, “and that it would” take all necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of our staff, including the provision of vaccines, “they could not confirm details due to privacy.

Hospital beds, doctors and nurses, ventilators, oxygen and medicine have all been in short supply. Nearly a month after CBS News first reported on these shortcomings – and despite the government’s claims that there is no shortage of oxygen and the fact that tons of foreign medical aid have begun to arrive – there has been no meaningful improvement in the supply of these necessities.


The United States sends relief shipments to India

10:24

But as people continue to die daily for a simple lack of oxygen, experts are increasingly concerned about yet another shortage: vaccines.

Inviting, but no shots

The federal government officially opened the vaccination program to all adults from May 1, but there are not enough doses to put it into practice.

States including Maharashtra and Delhi had to completely postpone the rollout of vaccines to younger adults as they simply did not have enough of the drugs. Vaccination centers in India’s financial capital Mumbai were closed from Friday onwards.

The younger people whom the government has invited to book their vaccinations from this month, aged 18 to 45, have struggled to find vacancies on the government’s online registration platform.

On Monday, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, which has manufactured the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in India under the name Covishield, warned that the vaccine shortage would continue for several months. He told the Financial Times that production would increase from the current 60-70 million doses per month to 100 million, but not until July.

It has exacerbated fears among health experts given the rate at which the virus is still infecting new victims and claiming life across the country. Given that lockdown and aggressive vaccination programs are the only methods that have been shown to limit infection rates around the world, some fear that such a delay will lead to countless more deaths.

“A really gloomy situation”

“We are in a really gloomy situation in the next two to three months,” said epidemiologist and economist Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan to CBS News and noted the lack of vaccine. He expressed particular concern that the epidemic tearing through India’s cities has not yet really affected much of rural India.

“As many parts of India are still interfering freely without paying attention to COVID standards, we cannot bend the curve by focusing on places that have current increases in cases,” he warned, suggesting that stricter measures were needed. in the great country.

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A family member comforts a woman breathing through oxygen supplied by a Gurdwara, a place of worship of Sikhs, under a tent set up along the roadside as the COVID-19 pandemic hits Ghaziabad, India, on the 4th May 2021.

TAUSEEF MUSTAFA / AFP / Getty


The White House Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has also called for greater deadlocks and efforts to increase vaccinations in India.

“Right now, they need to start getting as many people vaccinated as they possibly can, with both the vaccines that they themselves are developing in India, as well as supplies of vaccines that they may be able to obtain from other suppliers, be it the United States, be that Russia … no matter which country is willing when companies are willing to supply vaccine, ”Fauci told the Press Trust of India on Monday.

So far, India has only managed to provide approx. 9.5% of its 1.35 billion people at least a first dose, according to government data. With approx. 2% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Epidemiologists around the world have warned for months that leaving developing countries struggling with major outbreaks, while the richest nations that go ahead with vaccination programs, may be short-sighted, giving the virus time and a host of human hosts who they can mutate in. Some of these variants have already been shown to be more contagious than the original strain of coronavirus, and the concern is that one could develop with significant resistance to the available vaccines.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” Laxminarayan told CBS News last week.

Vaccines are coming, but not fast enough

India began receiving doses of Russia’s Sputnik V over the weekend, but that vaccine is still awaiting government approval and the rollout of the doses is at least a few weeks away. On Monday, Pfizer said it was in talks with the Indian government and sought “rapid approval” of its vaccine as India insists on small local trials for all foreign shots.

India announced rapid approval of foreign vaccines last month, urging Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to sell their vaccines to the country, but the other two US pharmaceutical giants have not yet applied.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for exporting and giving millions of vaccine doses to other countries – “vaccine diplomacy” efforts, many say, without ensuring that his government had secured enough doses for India’s own people.

Modi’s government sent approx. 66 million doses to a long list of other countries, including nearly 10.6 million that went as donations to low-income countries.

Arranging the purchase, delivery and distribution of foreign-made vaccines can take months, and given the shortage of the two Indian-made vaccines currently used in the country, India could continue to pay a high price for the delays in the coming weeks.


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