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World India’s worsening Covid crisis could spiral into a problem for the world

08:05  06 may  2021
08:05  06 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

SOS messages, panic as virus breaks India's health system

  SOS messages, panic as virus breaks India's health system NEW DELHI (AP) — Dr. Gautam Singh dreads the daily advent of the ventilator beeps, signaling that oxygen levels are critically low, and hearing his critically ill patients start gasping for air in the New Delhi emergency ward where he works. Like other doctors across the country, which on Monday set another record for new coronavirus infections for a fifth day in a row at more than 350,000, the cardiologist has taken to begging and borrowing cylinders of oxygen just to keep his most critical patients alive for one more day.

  • India — home to around 1.4 billion people or 18% of the world's population — has reported a sharp spike in the number of Covid-19 cases over the past month.
  • Experts warned that surging coronavirus infections across the India could scuttle efforts to end the global pandemic.
  • A prolonged outbreak in the country could lead to the emergence of new variants, hinder global vaccination progress and threaten the world economy.
a person talking on a cell phone: A woman wearing mask as a precaution against Covid-19 stands in a crowded area near India Gate, in New Delhi on March 19, 2021 as coronavirus cases continue to increase across India. © Provided by CNBC A woman wearing mask as a precaution against Covid-19 stands in a crowded area near India Gate, in New Delhi on March 19, 2021 as coronavirus cases continue to increase across India.

India's Covid-19 cases spiked in April to daily record highs, and experts warn the country's worsening health crisis could scuttle efforts to end the global pandemic.

India tops 200,000 dead as virus surge breaks health system

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The South Asian country — home to around 1.4 billion people or 18% of the world's population — accounted for 46% of new Covid cases globally in the past week, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. One in every four deaths in the past week came from India, the UN health agency said.

India has reported more than 300,000 new cases daily in the last two weeks, and overtook Brazil in April to become the second-worst infected country in the world. Cumulatively, coronavirus infections in India reached around 20.67 million with more than 226,000 deaths, according to health ministry data on Wednesday. Several studies of India's data, however, found that cases were likely severely underreported.

There are already signs that India's outbreak is spilling over to other countries. Its neighbors Nepal and Sri Lanka have also reported increases in infections, while other regional economies including Hong Kong and Singapore have seen imported Covid cases from India.

Modi could have prevented India's devastating Covid-19 crisis, critics say. He didn't

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Here's how India's coronavirus crisis could spiral into a wider global problem.

Potential new Covid variants

Prolonged large outbreaks in any country could increase the possibility of new variants of Covid-19, health experts warned. Some of the variants could evade immune responses trigged by vaccines and previous infections, they said.

"Here's the bottom line: We know when there are large outbreaks, that variants arise. And so far our vaccines are holding up okay, we're seeing a few breakthrough infections but not much," Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith."

"But India is a big country and if there are large outbreaks there, of course we're gonna all worry about more variants which will be bad for Indians and of course, it will spread around the world," he added.

India first detected the B.1.617 variant — also dubbed the "double mutant" — in October last year. The variant has since been reported in at least 17 countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Singapore.

Opinion: Modi has offered little more than hollow words amid India's horrifying covid crisis

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WHO has classified the B.1.617 as a variant of interest, which suggests the mutated strain could be more contagious, more deadly, as well as more resistant to current vaccines and treatments. The organization said more studies are needed to understand the significance of the variant.

Global vaccine supply at risk

India is a major vaccine manufacturer, but the health crisis at home has led authorities to halt exports of Covid-19 vaccines as the country prioritizes its domestic needs.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) — the country's main producer — has the rights to produce the Covid vaccine co-developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Some of its production is slated for Covax, the global initiative to supply poor countries with Covid vaccines.   

Developing countries are lagging advanced nations in securing vaccine supplies in what the WHO has described as a "shocking imbalance" in distribution.

A delay in vaccine exports by India could therefore leave lower-income countries vulnerable to fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus.

India Covid-19 fact check: Are more young people falling ill? Are vaccinated people getting infected?

  India Covid-19 fact check: Are more young people falling ill? Are vaccinated people getting infected? Misconceptions about Covid-19 have spread in India and beyond, and some have been accepted as truth. Here's our fact check of some common myths.India is reporting the world's highest number of new cases each day. So many people are dying that crematoriums are struggling to keep up. And the real number of cases and deaths could be many times higher than officially reported.

Threat to global economy

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

Some economists have downgraded their growth forecasts for India. But they remained optimistic about the economy's outlook for the year given that restrictions to curb the virus spread have been more targeted compared to the strict nationwide lockdown last year.

The International Monetary Fund last month said it expects India's economy to grow 12.5% in the fiscal year ending March 2022, after shrinking 8% in the prior fiscal year.

Still, the renewed outbreak in India has led several countries to tighten travel restrictions — and that's bad news for airlines, airports as well as other businesses that depend on the travel industry, said Uma Kambhampati, an economics professor at the University of Reading in the U.K.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that the health crisis in India could drag down the U.S. economy, reported Reuters. That's because many U.S. companies hire millions of Indian workers to run their back-office operations, according to the report.

"Given all these issues, and the humanitarian crisis unfolding, it has become imperative for the world to act quickly to help India – whether such help is requested or not," Kambhampati said in a report published on The Conversation, a not-for-profit website that carries commentaries by academics and researchers.

Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect that the World Health Organization said India accounted for 46% of new Covid cases globally in the past week. Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the story misrepresented the time frame.

India's Covid-19 catastrophe could make global shortages even worse .
A terrifying and record-breaking wave of Covid-19 in India threatens to stall the country's economic recovery and send shockwaves through several important global industries. © Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images SRINAGAR, INDIA - 2021/05/09: An elderly man walk past closed shops during a coronavirus curfew imposed by the authorities following the surge in COVID-19 cases in Srinagar. Coronavirus curfew in Jammu and Kashmir has been extended till May 17 to contain the surge in coronavirus cases, officials said on Sunday.

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