By: NIAH MADIGAN
Though daily case numbers in India had reached an eight month low, infections have skyrocketed in the last few weeks. On Wednesday, almost 48,000 new cases were reported, setting a global record for daily COVID cases and raising the total to 11,734, 058 and the death toll to 160,441.
A new variant called B.1.617 has emerged in India. It has two key mutations on the spike of the virus, and some lab evidence that suggests it’s slightly more transmissible and that antibodies may find it harder to block the virus, but scientists are still collecting information. “I don’t think there’s any evidence that it’s an escape mutation… It fundamentally can’t be stopped by the vaccines,” said the director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Dr. Jeff Barrett, to BBC News. However, the more COVID cases a country has, the more likely it is for a variant to emerge.
Dr. T Jacob John, India’s leading virologist, said that the government’s main goal should be to ‘prevent deaths, take intensive care unit admissions and focus vaccination efforts on areas witnessing infection surges “by targeting people aged above forty years,’” according to an article by Anadolu Agency. Authorities in India have ordered restrictions and the closure of schools in many cities to prevent further spread of the virus.
The Indian government is taking measures to minimize the number of cases and deaths. Frontline workers such as nurses and doctors are of course working hard to keep people safe and save lives. However, work also needs to be done on a scientific level if India’s situation will get any better. The Indian government quickly got involved with testing and has expanded testing options, as well as creating more laboratories across the country.
“We really need to double down on vaccination as quickly as possible or the virus is going to try and do everything it can to keep on spreading from person to person,” says Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization. The global pandemic has not yet come to an end, and the dire situation in India is a terrible reminder that nobody is safe until everybody is safe.