Following a second wave of infections that has outstripped the first, several Indian state leaders have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend vaccines to the majority of the country’s hundreds of millions of adults.
On Monday, India broke the dreadful record of 100,000 daily infections for the first time. According to data from the health ministry, the country had 96,982 cases as of Tuesday. There were 446 additional deaths, bringing the total number of people killed to 165,547.
After the United States and Brazil, India is the country with the most cases, with approximately 12.7 million.
The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer extended its vaccination program this month to include anyone over the age of 45.
According to the Our World in Data website, it has only vaccinated about 1 in 25 people so far, compared to nearly 1 in 2 in the United Kingdom and 1 in 3 in the United States.
“If a larger number of young and working population is vaccinated, the intensity of the cases would be much lower than the treatment that they need today,” Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of India’s worst-affected Maharashtra state, wrote in a letter to Modi late on Monday.
Many other governments, like Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, have also requested faster and broader vaccinations, with some, including Odisha, citing vaccine shortages even for the priority classes.
According to Indian media reports on Tuesday, the Delhi government has also declared a night curfew in the capital until April 30.
The federal government has announced that the vaccination program would be expanded to include more citizens in the “near future,” and that vaccine stocks will be increased.
Regular infections in the country have risen dramatically after reaching a multi-month low in early February, when authorities relaxed most restrictions and people started wearing masks and avoiding social contact.
India has had the highest number of infections in the past week of any country on the planet. Some epidemiologists believe that more infectious strains of the virus may have played a role in the second wave.
There has also been strong criticism of tens of thousands of largely maskless people cramming political rallies in four states where elections are taking place. Modi and his cabinet members have also given speeches at election rallies.
Tens of thousands of Hindu devotees are expected to gather on the banks of the Ganges in the northern state of Uttarakhand, which is governed by Modi’s party, for the weeks-long ‘Kumbh Mela,’ or pitcher festival.
Organizers had anticipated more than 150 million people to attend, but due to an increase in COVID-19 events, the figure is likely to be much smaller now.