India reported 314,835 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, the highest one-day total posted by any nation during the yearlong global pandemic.
By contrast, the United States posted its single-day high of 300,310 new cases on January 2, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
India, the world’s second most populous country, is dealing with a second wave of infections that has pushed the country’s health care system to the brink of collapse. Hospitals are near capacity and face an acute shortage of oxygen canisters. The oxygen shortage is so severe that the high court in New Delhi ordered the national government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals.
“Beg, borrow or steal,” the judges said in response to a petition by a New Delhi hospital.
Thursday was the eighth consecutive day India had posted more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s total number of infections to well over 15.9 million, second only to the 31.9 million in the United States.
India’s Health Ministry also revealed that 2,104 people died Thursday, raising the overall death toll to 184,657, as the current surge has overwhelmed cemeteries and crematories.
Experts have blamed the surge on the spread of more contagious variants of the virus, as well as the lifting of restrictions on large crowds when the outbreak appeared to be under control earlier this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for holding packed political rallies and allowing an annual Hindu religious festival that attracted millions of pilgrims.
Vaccines and pregnancy
A preliminary study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine showed the two-shot vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna do not pose any serious risk during pregnancy.
The study used data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s smartphone-based vaccine surveillance system, in which participants complete regular surveys about their health and any side effects they may be experiencing after being inoculated.
More than 35,000 pregnant women who received either vaccine between December 14, 2020, and February 28, 2021, reported the same general side effects experienced by nonpregnant women, including pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches and muscle pain.
Syria’s government and the country’s last opposition-held enclave received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the GAVI vaccine alliance announced in a joint statement the delivery of 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Syrian government and 53,800 doses to the rebel-controlled region in the northwest.
While fighting has mostly subsided since the cease-fire was implemented a year ago, Syria’s civil war has complicated the delivery of the vaccines, forcing most of them to be transported through Damascus for government-controlled areas while the others are shipped through the border with Turkey.
Western nongovernmental organizations have said that Syria’s logistical challenges coordinating vaccinations in combat zones are worsened by the international financial sanctions that have been imposed on the country.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped 80% among older Americans since the beginning of the year, U.S. government statistics show, strong evidence that the nation’s vaccination initiative is effective.
The numbers show that hospitalizations in the U.S. have declined 60% overall but dropped significantly among people 65 and older.
As of Thursday evening, Johns Hopkins University put the total number of COVID-19 infections at 144.2 million, with 3.06 million deaths. In addition to the total number of confirmed cases, the U.S. leads in the number of total fatalities with more than 570,000.