Coronavirus: India's daily infections decline, but there's a catch
With 3.57 lakh new coronavirus infections, India's tally has now surged past 2 crore cases, making it only the second nation after the United States to pass the grim milestone. Daily infections have declined consistently since a record single-day spike of 4 lakh new cases on May 1 (Saturday), however, the figures do not indicate an indisputable declining trend as testing has slowed relatively.
India reports 3.57 lakh new cases, 3.4K more deaths
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Tuesday morning, India reported a total of 2,02,82,833 COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 2,22,408. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,66,13,292 patients have recovered, while 34,47,133 cases involve active infections. In the past 24 hours alone, India recorded 3,57,229 new infections and 3,449 fresh fatalities. 15,89,32,921 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
Tamil Nadu sees record spike for 20th consecutive day
Tamil Nadu, the fifth worst-hit Indian state, reported 20,952 new cases, marking a record single-day spike for the 20th consecutive day. Maharashtra and Kerala—the first and the second worst-hit—witnessed a decline in daily cases. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal continued to report a high number of infections.
Testing slowed in several worst-hit states
However, several states reporting the highest number of infections are conducting lesser tests. For instance, Maharashtra is reporting the highest number of absolute cases daily, which has dropped from a peak of 68,631 cases on April 18 to 48,621 on Monday. However, 2,73,272 samples were tested on April 18, marking a positivity rate of 25%. On Monday, 2,11,668 samples were tested (positivity rate: 23%).
Centre says COVID-19 cases plateauing in some states; experts disagree
In a statement on Monday, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal had claimed that very early signs of infections plateauing have been observed in 13 states. However, the claim was chided by experts who said that a trend cannot be established by referring to data spanning only 48-72 hours. "This could be an aberration," a senior public health expert reportedly said.
Testing dropped from 19 lakh on Friday to 16 lakh
Referring to a decline in daily cases from 4 lakh on Saturday to 3.67 lakh on Monday, Agarwal "There is a relative signal of movement toward positive direction." However, COVID-19 tests have declined from a peak of 19.45 lakh on Friday to 18 lakh on Saturday, 15 lakh on Sunday, and 16.63 lakh on Monday. Notably, Sundays usually see fewer testing of samples.
India's COVID-19 cases to peak this week: Mathematical model
A mathematical model of a team of scientists advising the government had recently predicted that India's COVID-19 cases may peak between May 3-5, a few days sooner than what was previously estimated. However, the government remains opposed to the idea of a nationwide lockdown.
Vaccinations decline amid shortage
The sharp rise in infections observed over April corresponds to a decline in vaccinations. Since hitting a peak of 45 lakh on April 5, daily vaccinations now average 25 lakh. India—the world's biggest vaccine producer—is witnessing a shortfall of doses, which has slowed the nationwide immunization drive. Thus far, only about 9% of India's population has received at least one of two vaccine doses.
People eligible for vaccinations increase amid shortfall of doses
The monthly output of 70-80 million vaccine doses by the two current producers—Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech—will only increase in two months, public forecasts indicate. However, the number of people eligible for vaccination has doubled to an estimated 800 million since May 1.
India turns to foreign vaccines to supplement immunization drive
India has invited Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna to sell their vaccines in the country. Pfizer said Monday that it was in talks with the government for expedited approval. The US major had submitted its application for emergency approval in India last year, but India's drugs regulator sought a small, local safety study. This led to the company's withdrawal of its application.
India received 1.5 lakh Sputnik V doses last week
India has fast-tracked emergency approvals to foreign vaccines cleared in the US, UK, Europe, or Japan, or by the World Health Organization. On Saturday, India received 1.5 lakh doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. "Millions of doses" are expected, the government said.