Covid-19 Subsides in the West, India Remains Heavily Hit
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- Global recovery threatened by uneven vaccine distribution and regional Covid-19 flare-ups
- India remains the center of the pandemic, the country reported over 400,000 cases on Friday
In the span of a month, western countries have seen a significant drop in confirmed coronavirus cases daily. In contrast, India’s coronavirus crisis spiraled out of control in the same period. The epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic during April shifted to low- and middle-income countries.
While the West is seeing increasingly successful vaccination rollouts across developed countries, the numbers of confirmed infections in India continue to rise to record levels, fueling sickness and death amid the Indian population. The rapidly growing trend threatens to slow the worldwide economic recovery or at least, make it substantially uneven and patchy.
The global death toll for the first four months of the year exceeded 1.4 million as the virus flared up through India, Latin America, and some regions in Asia. In comparison, the death rate for the whole of 2020 stands at 1.8 million. Relatively low-income places around the globe, including Nepal, Iran, Uruguay, and Argentina are also registering increasing numbers of daily Covid-19 cases.
A Continuously Deteriorating Situation in India
India is going through the worst of the pandemic, reporting a growing number of confirmed coronavirus cases day after day. Today, the country reported over 414,000 new cases, the highest daily rate for any country since the start of the pandemic. India now has over 21 million infected citizens as the virus looks set to continue sweeping across the country. The disease has already overwhelmed many hospitals which are being left without oxygen resources or beds to hospitalize new patients.
At the end of last year, North America and Europe were the center of the virus, responsible for over 72% of daily global cases. Currently, the same regions account for 22% of the daily confirmed coronavirus cases. The turnaround has been achieved by mass vaccination across the United States and Europe.
The vaccine campaigns in the West have spurred hopes of economic reopening, reviving traveling and tourism, alongside restarting business and social activities. European countries like France, Italy, Germany, and Greece already introduced reopening plans that should see most of the current restrictions drop by the summer. States across the US are also eager to open and many have already taken the first steps toward easing the imposed limitations.
The surging pandemic in low- and middle-income countries, however, could be curbed by vaccine donations from richer countries and a boost in vaccine production. India, the country hit most severely now, has administered over 158 million Covid-19 vaccine doses as of May 4. Still, extremely low for a population that totals 1.4 billion people. The Indian government has set a target to vaccinate 300 million citizens by August 2021, a target that looks improbable unless external help arrives. The current vaccine delivery dropped more than 50% from 3.5 million a day in March to 1.6 million daily doses this week. By the current daily rate, it will take until February 2022 for Indian health authorities to vaccinate 300 million people or 20% of the population.
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