India: a Nation That Isn’t Breathing

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While the U.S. reached a point where almost every person above the age of 16 is eligible to be vaccinated, other countries aren’t doing as well. A deadly second wave of infections has recently hit India, leaving the nation in turmoil.

By the beginning of May, India had over 19.3 million cases and more than 219,000 dead, according to The New York Times. Those numbers make up half of COVID-19 daily cases in that same period, a record breaking infection pace of 300,000 a day.

Earlier in the crisis, India was one of the countries that was handling COVID-19 well. As opposed to countries like the U.S, where average cases continued to skyrocket, India did not see an explosion in cases. Things seemed to take a turn, and there are several reasons for the sudden shift..

A likely possibility is the restrictions that were lifted. Indians stopped taking tense precautions. Similar to the riots and gatherings that spread the virus in the U.S, India reported an increase in large gatherings, political rallies, and religious festivals. There is a clear correlation between public behavior and cases.

However, a more concerning factor are the emerging variants. By April 37, vaccinated doctors at a New Dehli hospital had apparently contracted the virus, the New York Times reported. Many wonder if variants are responsible for the failure of vaccinations. Although evidence is inconclusive, possible variants include B.1.617, which hit Britain late 2020 and has been the major source of new infections here in the U.S. Other circulating variants include B.1.1.7.

Perhaps the worst cause of the spike may be that less than 2% of India’s population is currently vaccinated, and variants still affect those. Ironically, India has remained one of the key manufacturers in vaccines, distributing throughout the world, but struggling to keep its own citizens safe.

The U.S. has released news that vaccines for ages 12-15 will be available soon. More than 30% of the total population has been vaccinated. Biden has set a good trajectory since entering office and cases have continually decreased in the U.S. population.