Covid-19 Live Updates: India Becomes 2nd Country to Report 20 Million Total


As India staggers from its Covid cases, the Indian Premier League suspended its competition. Pictured is a match in 2019.
Credit…Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

India on Tuesday passed the milestone of 20 million total reported coronavirus cases, with many more undetected, according to experts, amid growing calls for a national lockdown.

With those reported numbers, India became the second country after the United States to cross 20 million infections. Although aid has begun to pour in from other countries, hospitals are still unable to help many of those who are critically ill, and families have been left to hunt for much-needed oxygen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been sharply criticized by many for underplaying the virus earlier this year, and on Tuesday the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said a national lockdown was desperately needed, calling it “the only option.”

Mr. Gandhi accused the authorities of helping the virus spread. “A crime has been committed against India,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Indian Premier League announced on Tuesday that it was suspending all the remaining matches of the season after several players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. The league had drawn intense criticism for going ahead with their matches in cities that have been among the worst hit.

Made up of eight teams, the Indian Premier League is the biggest cricket league in the world.

Since the league’s season started last month, some of the biggest cricket stars have traveled across the country in so-called bubbles and played in empty stadiums. But even the stringent safety protocols couldn’t stop team members from being infected. At least five people on three teams have tested positive. The competition was scheduled to finish at the end of the month.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the league said in a statement.

India reported over 368,000 new cases and 3,417 deaths on Monday. It has reported more than 222,000 Covid-19 deaths, although actual figures are most likely much higher.

With aid being shipped from countries like the United States and Britain, among others, there was hope among weary residents that the situation could start easing.

Eight oxygen generator plants from France, each of which can supply 250 hospital beds, were earmarked for six hospitals in Delhi and one each in Haryana and Telangana, states in northern and southern India.

One of the generators was installed at the Narayana hospital in Delhi within hours of being delivered, according to The Times of India. Italy has also donated an oxygen generation plant and 20 ventilators.

Keidy Ventura, 17, received a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in West New York, N.J., last month.
Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Medical experts welcomed the news that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in adolescents ages 12 to 15 by early next week, a major step forward in the U.S. vaccination campaign.

Vaccinating children is key to raising the level of immunity in the population, experts say, and to bringing down the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. And it could put school administrators, teachers and parents at ease if millions of adolescent students soon become eligible for vaccinations before the next academic year begins in September.

Pfizer’s trial in adolescents showed that its vaccine was at least as effective in them as it was in adults. The F.D.A. is preparing to add an amendment covering that age group to the vaccine’s existing emergency use authorization by early next week, according to federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and the father of two adolescent daughters, said the approval would be a big moment for families like his.

“It just ends all concerns about being able to have a pretty normal fall for high schoolers,” he said. “It’s great for them, it’s great for schools, for families who have kids in this age range.”

But with demand for vaccines falling among adult Americans — and much of the world clamoring for the surplus of American-made vaccines — some experts said the United States should donate excess shots to India and other countries that have had severe outbreaks.

“From an ethical perspective, we should not be prioritizing people like them over people in countries like India,” Dr. Rupali J. Limaye, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who studies vaccine use, said of adolescents.

Dr. Jha said that the United States now had a big enough vaccine supply to both inoculate younger Americans and aid the rest of the world. As of Monday, the United States had about 65 million doses delivered but not administered, including 31 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to figures collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 105 million adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated. But the United States is in the middle of a delicate and complex push to reach the 44 percent of adults who have not yet received even one shot.

While adolescents so far appear to be mostly spared from severe Covid-19, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top Covid adviser, has repeatedly stressed the importance of expanding vaccination efforts to include them and even younger children. In March, Dr. Fauci said that he expected that high schoolers could be vaccinated by fall and elementary school students by early 2022.

Dr. Richard Malley, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that immunizing adolescents was worthwhile because they can spread the virus, even if they transmit it at a lower rate than adults.

President Xi Jinping on a screen in Beijing last month. The Chinese government’s aggressive brand of “wolf warrior” diplomacy has drawn criticism from other countries.
Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even in China, where propaganda has become increasingly pugnacious, the display was jarring: A photograph of a Chinese rocket poised to blast into space juxtaposed with a cremation pyre in India, which has been overwhelmed by a wave of coronavirus infections.

“Chinese ignition versus Indian ignition,” the title read.

The image drew a backlash from internet users who called it callous, and it was taken down on the same day by the Communist Party-run news service that posted it. But it has lingered as a provocative example of a broader theme running through China’s state-run media, which often celebrates the country’s success in curbing coronavirus infections while highlighting the failings of others.

Chinese leaders have expressed sympathy and offered medical help to India, and the controversy may soon pass. But it has exposed how swaggering Chinese propaganda can collide with Beijing’s efforts to make friends abroad.

“You’ve had this growing…



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