India's COVID-19 surge pushes it over 20 million cases

India's COVID total topped 20 million yesterday, the only country besides the United States to do so, as more states ordered lockdowns and the country's premier cricket league postponed its season.

Daily cases in India have surpassed 300,000 for 14 days in a row, evolving into the worst surge of the pandemic and prompting help from numerous countries and companies.

By comparison, US infections have reached 32.5 million, but daily cases have now dropped to fewer than 50,000.

Ten states have lockdowns or curfews

India's opposition party is calling for a full national lockdown, dovetailing on criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of the pandemic, according to Reuters. Ahead of the surge, the government had allowed large religious, cultural, and political gathering to take place without mask wearing. Now, the world's second most populous country is facing critical oxygen shortages, overwhelmed health systems, and overrun crematoriums.

The western state of Mararashtra, which includes Mumbai, and the New Delhi area were earlier hot spots. Now Bihar state in the east announced a lockdown, which will last until May 15, according to CNN. Nine of India's 27 other states, plus Kashmir's Srinagar district, are under lockdowns or curfews.

The Indian Premier League cricket governing body today said its governing groups met in an emergency session and unanimously decided to postpone the season to avoid compromising the safety of players, support staff, and other participants. "These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times," it said.

As assistance from other countries and groups flows into the country, Eli Lilly today announced that it is donating an initial 400,000 doses of baricitinib, a rheumatoid arthritis drug used with remdesivir under emergency use authorizations for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are receiving oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

India's health ministry said it has established a "streamlined mechanism" for distributing aid from international donors in the country's battle against its massive COVID-19 surge, according to CNN. The ministry said it has received nearly 4 million items from 24 different categories such as medical equipment, oxygen concentrators, and ventilators, and has distributed them to 86 healthcare facilities.

More global headlines

  • Nepal, India's neighbor to the north, is also battling a sharp spike in cases, and yesterday the country's prime minister asked foreign donors for vaccine doses and critical care medicine to prevent its healthcare system from collapsing, according to Reuters.

  • Singapore today tightened its COVID measures amid rising case numbers. They include stricter limits on gatherings and enhanced border measures.

  • Trinidad and Tobago officials yesterday announced stricter lockdown measures for the next 3 weeks as cases reached a record daily high, putting the healthcare system near capacity, according to Reuters.

  • The European Medicines Agency announced today that it has started a rolling review of China's Sinovac vaccine, an inactivated vero cell product that contains an adjuvant. The announcement comes as World Health Organization vaccine advisors are weighing recommendations for China's Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

  • Brazilian government data suggest that, since the start of the year, one third of all deaths were due to COVID-19, according to CNN.

  • The global total today climbed to 153,783,791 cases, with deaths rising to 3,217,811, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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