India on Friday posted another global record for daily coronavirus infections, pushing worldwide cases past 150 million as a pandemic that has killed almost 3.2 million worldwide continues to wreak devastation.
The number of new daily cases has more than doubled since mid-February, an AFP tally showed, in an explosion in infections blamed in part on a new Covid-19 variant but also on failure to follow virus restrictions.
The countries with the highest total number of cases are the United States, India and Brazil, which recorded 3,001 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its overall toll to 401,186.
The continent seeing the bulk of new daily cases is Asia, driven largely by a devastating wave in India which has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.
India recorded another 385,000 cases in the past 24 hours — a new global record — and almost 3,500 deaths, according to official data that many experts suspect falls short of the true toll.
More than 40 countries have committed to sending medical aid to India, with a US Super Galaxy military transporter carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, other hospital equipment and nearly one million rapid coronavirus tests arriving in New Delhi on Friday.
The Indian global diaspora has also sprung into action, with a collection of overseas volunteers scrambling to locate desperately-needed supplies for Covid-19 stricken family, friends and strangers back home.
Compounding India’s woes as cases soared has been its failure to get a much-needed vaccine programme off the ground.
Until now, only “frontline” workers like medical staff, people over 45 and those with existing illnesses have been given the AstraZeneca shot or Bharat Biotech’s homegrown Covaxin.
As of Saturday jabs will be open to all adults, meaning around 600 million more people will be eligible.
But several states have warned they do not have sufficient stocks, and the expanded rollout is threatened by administrative bickering, confusion over prices and technical glitches on the government’s digital vaccine platform.
– Brazil woes –
Also struggling to inoculate a vast country facing a surge in cases is Brazil, which has one of the highest mortality rates in the pandemic, at 189 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
Experts blame the latest surge partly on the “Brazil variant” of the virus, a mutation that emerged in or around the Amazon rainforest city of Manaus in December.