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India is now the world’s largest contributor to new Covid-19 infections

Patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) get treatment at the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital, amidst the spread of the disease in New Delhi
REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Worsening crisis.
  • Manavi Kapur
By Manavi Kapur


Published Last updated

India has now crossed the milestone for the highest single-day Covid-19 spike for any country in the world.

Yesterday (April 21), the country had nearly 315,000 new coronavirus infections. The only other country to cross the 300,000-mark was the US, which reached its peak in January.

The US has also consistently tested higher than India, with the latter testing 1 out of a population of 1,000 on an average.

Our World in Data
Covid-19 tests in India and the US, relative to their populations.

India also reported 2,091 deaths, a number that has been steadily climbing for the past month. The healthcare infrastructure is overburdened, several cities are running dangerously low on oxygen supply, and there aren’t enough ventilator beds to support severe cases of the disease.

Another alarming statistic is the test positivity rate across the country. During a press conference yesterday, India’s health ministry said that 146 districts in the country were reporting a test positivity rate of over 15%. That means nearly one in seven tests for Covid-19 were coming out to be positive.

This likely also means that Covid-19 is now reaching districts and villages in India that were previously largely unaffected. India sero-survey to check for the prevalence of coronavirus antibodies in the population, revealed in February that only 21% of the country had been infected. That left a large population in a country of 1.3 billion where the virus could still spread.

A slow vaccine drive

While the US has been able to lower its Covid-19 infection rate substantially because of its vaccine rollout, India’s vaccine programme, the largest in the world, has been slow to take off.

According to government data, 113 million people have received the first dose, and only 19.5 million Indians are fully vaccinated with two doses. Yesterday, on the 96th day of its vaccine drive, the country administered a little over 2 million doses.

Our World in Data
Vaccine doses administered by India and the US, relative to their populations.

Correction, April 23: India on April 22 reported nearly 315,000 new cases over a 24-hour period. The story earlier said it reported nearly 316,000 new cases.

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