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India world's third country to cross three lakh COVID-19 deaths

The country's cumulative death count was below two lakh before the onset of the second wave of the pandemic.

May 23, 2021 / 09:23 PM IST
A man walks past burning funeral pyres of people, who died due to COVID-19, at a crematorium ground in New Delhi on April 22, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

A man walks past burning funeral pyres of people, who died due to COVID-19, at a crematorium ground in New Delhi on April 22, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

India on May 23 became the world's third country to cross three lakh deaths due to COVID-19. The two other countries which have crossed the toll are the United States and Brazil.

While the official update would be shared by the Health Ministry on May 24, the real-time Worldometers tracker has pushed the country's death count to 3,02,744.

By the time this report was published, the tracker claimed that India has recorded 3,448 more fatalities after the release of the last official update.

The country's cumulative death toll was below 2 lakh before the onset of the second wave of the pandemic. Since April, the per-day fatality numbers have sharply surged, with over 4,000 daily deaths being reported for several days on a stretch.

A bulk of the COVID-19 deaths in India, as per the official tally, has been registered in Maharashtra. The state accounts for 88,620 out of the total fatalities, followed by Karnataka which has reported 25,282 deaths.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Also Read | COVID-19 death tolls are likely a "significant undercount", WHO says

The United States, which has suffered the highest number of fatalities due to coronavirus, has to date recorded 6,03,896 - nearly twice of India's death count.

The toll in Brazil has climbed to 4,48,291, according to Worldometers. Mexico and the UK are fourth and fifth on the list, with 2,21,597 and 1,27,716 cumulative fatalities, respectively.

Across the world, around 3.4 million lives have been lost so far due to the pandemic. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), however, the official numbers are a "significant undercount", and predicts the actual fatality count to range between 6 to 8 million.

"This number would truly be two to three times higher. So I think safely about 6 to 8 million deaths could be an estimate on a cautionary note," Samira Asma, WHO's Assistant Director-General, said on May 21.
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