India has recorded 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections in the last 24 hours, amid reports that the strain first detected in the country is spreading around the world.
The number of COVID-19 infections recorded in India has surpassed 24 million on Friday amid reports Friday that the highly transmissible coronavirus mutant first detected in the country was spreading around the world.
The B.1.617 variant of the virus, first identified in India, has been found in cases in eight countries in the Americas, including Canada and the United States, an expert on infectious diseases from the World Organization said on Friday. of Health (WHO), Jairo Méndez.
People infected with the variant included travelers to Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Caribbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, the Dutch Saint Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.
The mutant strain has also been detected in Britain as well as in Singapore.
“These variants have a higher transmission capacity, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences,” Méndez said. “The only concern is that they will spread more quickly.”
Public Health England said the total number of confirmed cases of the variant has more than doubled last week, to 1,313 across the UK.
“We are looking forward to it; it has spread,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who added that there would be meetings to discuss what to do. “We don’t rule anything out,” he added.
According to health ministry data, India recorded 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections in the last 24 hours. It was the third day in a row of 4,000 or more deaths, but daily infections have remained below the 414,188 high last week.
Although the total number of registered infections exceeded 24 million, the number of people confirmed to have died from COVID-19 was 262,317 since the pandemic affected India more than a year ago.
But the lack of evidence in many places meant many deaths and infections from the official count have been omitted, and experts say the actual figures could be five to ten times higher.
Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, said most models had predicted a peak this week and that the country’s infections could be on the verge of reaching a peak.
Still, the number of new cases each day is large enough to overwhelm hospitals, he said on Thursday on Twitter. “The key word is prudent optimism.”
The situation is particularly bad in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India with a population of over 240 million. Television footage has shown families crying for the dead in rural hospitals or camping in wards to care for the sick.
The bodies have been razed to the Ganges, the river that crosses the state, as crematoria are overflowing and wood for funeral pyres is scarce.
The second wave of infections, which erupted in February, has been accompanied by a slowdown in vaccines, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that vaccinations would be open to all adults from 1 May.
India is the largest producer of vaccines in the world, but has run out of stock in the face of high demand. As of Thursday, it had completely vaccinated just over 38.2 million people, or about 2.8% of a population of about 1.35 billion, according to government data.
There are likely to be more than two billion doses of coronavirus vaccines available in India between August and December this year, top government adviser VK Paul told reporters amid criticism that the government had mishandled the vaccination plan.
These doses would include 750 million AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as 550 million doses of Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech.
“We are going through a finite supply phase. Everyone is going through it. It takes time to get out of this phase, ”said Paul.