On Wednesday, the country saw its highest daily rise in infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic — 295,041 new Covid-19 cases and 2,023 fatalities — as hospitals turn away patients and beg for more oxygen, while desperate families plead for beds and medicines on social media.
“The volume is humongous,” said Jalil Parkar, a senior pulmonary consultant at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, which has had to convert its lobby into an additional Covid ward. “It’s just like a tsunami.”
This month, thousands of people have been seen heading to railway stations and bus stops in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, yet the central government has maintained that no reverse migration is taking place.
The second wave, which has surpassed the first, was a situation created by complacency, say experts, pointing to the government relaxing measures, and a false sense of security from the public. Weeks before cases began climbing again, the federal health minister declared that India was “in the endgame” of the pandemic.
Despite warnings of Covid risks, sports matches resumed, elaborate weddings were held and movie cinemas reopened. This month, one of the biggest pilgrimages on Earth, the Hindu festival the Kumbh Mela, went ahead.
Modi, who has a significant Hindu base, refrained from commenting on the Kumbh Mela and its Covid risks for weeks. He finally appealed to pilgrims to avoid congregating in Haridwar earlier this week. But for some, Modi’s message rang hollow, as he continued to hold massive political rallies ahead of parliamentary and local council elections in four states and one union territory.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. What should we do differently now that the B.1.1.7 variant has become dominant in the United States?
- Being even more on guard than before. “For example, if you are going to eat outdoors at a restaurant, check to make sure that they are abiding by CDC guidelines and there is at least 6 feet of distancing between tables. Those not yet fully vaccinated should wait until they are vaccinated before dining in close proximity with someone else at their table,” she said.
- Wear a mask in public, practice physical distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings with people not in your household.
- “It’s even more critical than ever to be vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn,” Wen added.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
EU regulator says benefits outweigh risks in Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after finding possible link to blood clots.
Experts say taking the vaccines far outweighs the risks. Blood clots in general are relatively common — affecting 900,000 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And being infected with coronavirus greatly raises this risk.
Covid-19 cases keep going up in the US despite vaccinations. Here’s why.
In the past seven days, the US reported an average of more than 67,100 new Covid-19 infections daily, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That’s slightly below the previous week’s figure, but it’s still 25% above what it was nearly a month ago.
There are several reasons for this rise, say experts, namely dangerous coronavirus variants — such as the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain that has helped fuel another surge in Michigan. Pandemic fatigue and more Americans moving around are also not helping.
China’s vaccine nationalism softens as country signals it may approve foreign-made shots
As much as China may want to promote its domestically produced Covid-19 vaccines, it also has to face reality.
Beijing issued a policy last month making it easier for foreigners to apply for a visa to China if they had received a Chinese vaccine. Experts warn it sets a dangerous precedent that could leave the world separated into vaccine silos.
ON OUR RADAR
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador got his first AstraZeneca shot on a livestream yesterday, as he urged the country to trust vaccines.
- Economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis is unsustainable, says the International Energy Agency, as it estimates that carbon emissions from energy use are on track to spike by 1.5 billion tons in 2021.
- A national nightly curfew in the Netherlands, designed to reduce social contact, will end on April 28, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced. The curfew has been in place since January 23 and runs from 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.
- As US health officials race to get more Covid-19 shots into arms to control the virus, experts warn the country will run into another challenge in the next few weeks: vaccine supply will likely outstrip demand.
- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin urged all citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19, in his annual address to the nation on Wednesday. “It is the only way to stop the deadly pandemic,” Putin said.
“About 30-40% of the people with long Covid report improvement in their symptoms after vaccines, so that gives us some hope in trying to understand what we can do to help them, but also what is potentially causing the disease,” — Akiko Iwasaki, immunologist at Yale University.