As media reports continue to reflect stories of families in India unable to get treatment for their loved ones, exhausted health workers, and continuous funeral pyres, the country's nearly vertical spike in infections led to 400,000 new cases today.
Also, India's massive surge pushed the global total past 150 million cases today, though many countries are reporting declines, including Brazil, which is still battling its worst spike.
Mass vaccination challenge in India
India's health ministry today reported 402,110 new cases, along with 3,522 more deaths, according to the country's health ministry, a daily record for both India and the world.
Scientists advising India's government say mathematical modeling suggests the country's cases may peak between May 3 and May 5, slightly earlier than previous estimates, according to Reuters.
A day ahead of the India's launch of a mass immunization effort, lack of vaccine supply is already postponing the rollout in some states, including Karnataka, according to a separate Reuters report. So far, only about 9% of the country's 1.4 billion people have received a dose of COVID vaccine.
In other response developments, the government triggered special powers that will allow India's military to help with response operations, which include establishing and staffing quarantine facilities and hospitals, as well as buying provisions to help with the surge, according to CNN.
Aid continues to flow into India from other countries and corporations, with the first aid flight from the United States arriving today. Meanwhile, pledges of help continue, including from China, where President Xi Jinping offered to help, according to China's state media.
Promising signs in Brazil
At a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said though India is gripped in a severe crisis, the WHO is encouraged by the international show of support. He also noted that intense transmission is occurring in many other countries, including Brazil, which has been battling a large and evolving surge since early November.
Brazil's cases have dropped for 4 weeks in a row, with hospitalizations and deaths also showing signs of decline, Tedros said. "This is good news, and we hope this trend continues. But the pandemic has taught us that no country can ever let down its guard," he said, adding that Brazil has a proud history of public health, but the pandemic's impacts threaten to unravel its health system gains.
In a related development, Brazil's Fiocruz Institute said yesterday in an update that though cases, deaths, and intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rates are dropping, the rates are still at worrying levels, according to a report translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.
However, the case-fatality rate is rising, likely related to overwhelmed health systems, the group said.
WHO OKs Moderna vaccine for emergency use
In another WHO development today, it announced that the group's vaccine advisors listed Moderna's mRNA COVId-19 vaccine for emergency use, paving the way for it to be used more broadly in lower income countries.
WHO listing is required for vaccine that are part of COVAX, the initiative to ensure more equal access to COVID vaccines across the globe.
Moderna's vaccine is the fifth to be listed by the WHO for emergency use, and the WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) had already reviewed and recommended the vaccine. WHO advisors are currently reviewing two vaccines made by producers in China.
More global headlines
- Singapore's cases have risen to a 7-month high, and the government today urged people to reduce their social interactions or face tightened restrictions, according to Reuters. The country—after already banning travel from India—announced that it will bar travelers from other South Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, starting on May 2.
- In Cambodia, people in Phnom Penh are protesting inadequate aid from the government during a strict lockdown in the city and are demanding food, according to Reuters.
- In Canada, a remote part of northern Alberta that is home to the oil sands region has become one of Canada's hot spot, as the country battles its third surge.
- The global total today climbed to 150,793,484 cases, and 3,170,879 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.