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314,000 daily cases: India struggles with the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak

India population counts more than 1.3 billion people. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are increasing very rapidly with currently more than 314,000 new infections in a single day. The positive rate of tests also increased strongly (from 2% to almost 10%). So far, over 15.3 million people got infected with SARS-CoV-2 in India.

 

It’s the worst coronavirus outbreak for any country. India’s hospitals are close to collapse. They’re running out of medication and oxygen. Two thousand people died on Wednesday alone. India had come off relatively lightly during the pandemic. But the number of infections has rocketed in recent weeks. Why is the big question. Some doctors blame more infectious variants. Others point to loose restrictions and people letting down their guard, after hearing about the vaccine or following India’s fairly unscathed brush with the first wave.

 

000 new infections in a single day it’s the worst coronavirus outbreak for any country india’s hospitals are close to collapse they’re running out of medication and oxygen 2 000 people died on wednesday alone india had come off relatively lightly during the pandemic but the number of infections has rocketed in recent

week why is the big question some doctors blame more infectious variants others point to loose restrictions and people letting down their guard after hearing about the vaccine or following india’s fairly unscathed brush with the first wave we’ll talk to an expert in delhi in a moment first this report many in india thought they had got the better of the pandemic but now the country is being overwhelmed by a devastating new wave no city is as badly hit as delhi as cases explode hospitals there are at breaking point some patients are forced to share a bed and there’s an acute shortage of oxygen the city’s chief minister says the system has reached its limits the beds for covid19 patients

are filling up rapidly patients are being admitted to the hospitals very quickly intensive care beds are in short supply and less than 100 icu beds are available in delhi authorities in delhi had already imposed a lockdown over the weekend ordering orbit essential services to close local leaders hope the decision to step up the measures will help to mitigate the crisis some welcome the restrictions but others fear if they’re not allowed to work the consequences could be drastic it is essential that there’s a lock down

here because right now the virus is spreading a lot the problem with the lockdown is us daily wage earners who get 100 to 300 rupees a day where will we go how will we eat where will we sleep is the government going to come and give us this daily wage but now with one in three tests in delhi turning out positive the government says it must act to avert a greater disaster the fear is that the surging cases is due to a new more infectious variant of the virus they’re calling on people to be more disciplined about sticking to the rules but critics are also asking why religious festivals and political rallies that are fueling cases as participants return to cities like delhi are still being allowed to go ahead for tens of thousands of families such questions come too late and if current trends persist then many more will find themselves in the same tragic situation rajiv dasgupta is chair of the center of social medicine and community health at jawaharlal nehru university just

how tragic is the situation what have you been experiencing well in short the situation is extremely distressing particularly for those who require bed or oxygen support or intensive care support it is also very troubling given that the number of cases are continuing to rise and as the report just said the test positivity rate is nearly 30 percent that that goes on to show that this trend is going to continue for some foreseeable weeks the numbers are absolutely awful let’s just take a little look at them out of

one and a half billion people have been over 15 millio cases and more than 265 000 infections a day what’s your explanation well the most common explanation is one of negligence or complacency but that’s not the entire explanation because even in the first phase it’s not that the preventive behaviors or preventive practices were absolutely top order they weren’t as very limited behavioral surveys and the fact is that the surveys were limited has shown what is important is that the cases began to rise with coinciding with the import of the uk strain first first identified in the last week of december which significantly led to rise in the northern indian state of punjab as well as identification of local homegrown variants the b1617 as we now know which which later went on to become the double mutant as it’s popularly known as the point is that these two have spread incredibly fast and have simply outstripped the health services what about some of these political rallies and festivals turning into so-called super spreader events i mean what’s to celebrate when so many people are dying now the fact that the disaste management act the national disaster management act remains in force in the country uh belies explanations why events of this scale were actually happening allowed by

the administ by the local administrations in fac several of the medical associations doctors bodies had written have already written to the election commission of india drawing attention to these rallies and it’s only belatedly if i may the election commission put its foot down limiting it to 500 uh per person sorry per congregation is it the government or or is it the people the people who decide to go along to these rallies and events well both certainly because the disaster management act is enforced there’s a very detailed uh standard operating procedure for various congregations whether you whether it’s a wedding whether it’s a whether it’s a cremation uh how much how many seeds for example can be occupied in a cinema hall how many seats can be filled up in a bus how many have to be empty in a cafe and so on and so forth so there is no death of these details

of these procedures rajiv what happened to lessons learned from the first wave and from so many other places that have had the third or fourth waves this is only the second wave and we’re talking about the biggest rise in infections worldwide well the experience both from this pandemic in other countries as well as earlier influenza pandemics is that the second wave almost inevitably is very big and that’s largely because young adults get affected which is exactly the feature here in the in the earlier phase in february in some

of the districts of maharashtra the western indian state including the financial capital mumbai uh in some of these states the test positivity rate has been as high as 50 percent in fact 50 plus that goes on to show that it is the variance spreading very fast and not though not necessarily fatal though not necessarily more fatal but because they’re more transmissible led to a burst of cases which completely outstripped medical services and therefore leading to some excess mortality rajiv just briefly and finally can you offer indians watching our show today some some sort of hope well the the state and the court have often taken a contrarian position of lives versus livelihoods the the supreme court today also took sure motor cognizance of that uh urging the government to consider it as a national

emergency and we hope that these emergency measures would be pretty put in pretty fast both state and central governments and local bodies have gone back to their drawing boards but it could still take a couple of weeks perhaps to offer some sucker magic descriptor thank you very much for being on the show today joining us from delhi there thank you and time to hand you over to our very own derek williams he’s got a viewer question on you guessed it vaccines is the first dose of a vaccine different from the

second one almost all of the dozen or so vaccines now going into arms around the world are are given in two doses with the recommended interval between them depending on the vaccine between two and 12 weeks the ways that different vaccines provoke an immune responsevary some are based on messenger rna that causes your cells to make the sars to spike protein others smuggle the same genetic information into the body packed in harmless adenoviruses that act like taxis into your cells while some of the chinese vaccines employ a more traditional platform a full version of the coronavirus that’s been inactivated in

nearly all of the two dose vaccines the two shots administered are identical though there is an exception to that rule the doses of the russian sputnik v vaccine are made with two different adenoviruses that cause colds although both have been genetically engineered to carry the same sars kobe 2 spike protein genes the vaccine was designed that way to ensure that the booster shot so the second one would work even if recipients developed a strong immune response to the carrier virus in the first dose other trials based on the same principle which is called heterologous prime

boost they’re also now going on with other vaccines some of those trials are combining different vaccines in different ways to see whether that might make the immune response to sars kov2 even stronger or or more lasting now here’s something i wouldn’t try at home the french are known for their protest culture and that hasn’t stopped in the pandemic just take the lingerie shops which have protested by sending the prime minister their panties the 80 independent underwear stores want their businesses classed as essential allowing them to stay open during lockdowns owners say there’s more to their business than sexy bed wear well fitting products are essential for the likes of pregnant women for example they need a bit of extra support of course they hope an avalanche of protest panties will change the pm’s mind

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