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India’s worsening Covid crisis may turn into a worldwide problem



On March 19, 2021, as coronavirus cases continue to increase across India, a woman wearing a mask to prevent Covid-19 stands in a crowded area near India Gate in New Delhi.

Money Sharma | AFP | Getty Images

Covid-19 cases in India surged to a daily record in April, and experts warned that the country’s deteriorating health crisis could weaken efforts to end the global pandemic.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that this South Asian country, which has a population of approximately 1

.4 billion or 18% of the world’s population, accounted for 46% of new Covid cases worldwide in the past week. The United Nations health agency said that a quarter of the deaths in the past week came from India.

In the past two weeks, India has reported more than 300,000 new cases every day and surpassed Brazil in April to become the world’s second most infected country. According to data released by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, the cumulative number of coronavirus infections in India has reached 20.67 million, with more than 226,000 deaths. However, several studies on Indian data found that these cases may be seriously underestimated.

already have There are signs that the epidemic in India is spreading to other countries. Neighbors Nepal and Sri Lanka have also reported an increase in infections, while other regional economies, including Hong Kong and Singapore, have also imported Covid-19 from India.

This is how India’s coronavirus crisis may evolve into a broader global problem.

Potential new variants of Covid

Health experts warn that prolonged large-scale outbreaks in any country may increase the possibility of new variants of Covid-19. They say that some of these variants can evade the immune response triggered by vaccines and previous infections.

Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Medicine, said: “This is the bottom line: we know that when a pandemic breaks out, there will be variants. So far, our vaccines are still functioning normally, and we have seen some breakthrough infections, but infections The rate is not high.” The School of Public Health told CNBC’s Shepard Smith News.

He added: “But India is a big country. If there is a major epidemic there, we will of course worry about more variants that are not good for Indians, and it will spread around the world.”

In October last year, India detected the B.1.617 variant for the first time, also known as the “double mutant”. Since then, the variant has been reported in at least 17 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.

The WHO has classified B.1.617 as a variant of interest, indicating that the mutant strain may be more infectious, more deadly, and more resistant to current vaccines and treatments. The organization stated that more research is needed to understand the importance of this variant.

Global vaccine supply is at risk

India is a major vaccine producer, but due to the domestic health crisis, the authorities stopped the export of Covid-19 vaccine because the country prioritized its domestic demand.

India’s main producer Serum Institute (SII) has the right to produce the Covid vaccine jointly developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Some of its products are planned to be used in Covax, which is a global plan to provide Covid vaccines to poor countries.

Developing countries are lagging behind developed countries in ensuring vaccine supply, which is called by the World Health Organization an “astonishing imbalance” in distribution.

Therefore, India’s delay in exporting vaccines may make low-income countries vulnerable to the new coronavirus outbreak.

Threat to the global economy

India is the sixth largest economy in the world and a major contributor to global growth.

Some economists lowered their growth expectations for India. But they remain optimistic about the economic outlook this year, because the restrictions on the spread of the virus are more targeted than the strict nationwide lockdown last year.

The International Monetary Fund said last month that it expects the Indian economy to grow by 12.5% ​​in the fiscal year ending March 2022 after shrinking by 8% in the previous fiscal year.

Uma Kambhampati, a professor of economics at the University of Reading in India, said that the recent outbreak in India has still caused many countries to tighten travel restrictions. Said it was bad news.United Kingdom

At the same time, according to Reuters, the American Chamber of Commerce warned that India’s health crisis may drag down the US economy. According to the report, this is because many American companies employ millions of Indian workers to carry out back-office operations.

Kambampati said in a report published in The Conversation magazine: “In view of all these problems and the spread of the humanitarian crisis, the world must act quickly whenever India is needed or not. To help India.” The profitable website contains comments from scholars and researchers.

Correction: The story has been updated to accurately reflect the World Health Organization’s statement that India accounted for 46% of new Covid cases worldwide in the past week. Due to an editing error, the earlier version of the story failed to display the time range correctly.


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