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COVID-19 update | India records over 2,000 deaths in a single day for the first time

Coronavirus second wave: Despite the increasing COVID-19 death toll, India continues to have the lowest mortality rate among the top-10 worst-affected countries except Turkey.

April 21, 2021 / 10:30 AM IST
File image: A healthworker waits for relatives to unload the body of a man, who died from COVID-19, for the burial during a dust storm at a graveyard in New Delhi, India on April 16, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

File image: A healthworker waits for relatives to unload the body of a man, who died from COVID-19, for the burial during a dust storm at a graveyard in New Delhi, India on April 16, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

For the first time since the novel coronavirus pandemic started in early 2020, India has reported more than 2,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in a 24-hour period. As many as 2,023 deaths were recorded across the country in the previous 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry’s update on April 21 showed.

This took the country’s overall death toll to 1,82,553 (1.82 lakh). India remains the second-worst affected country due to the pandemic after the United States in terms of the overall cases reported so far.

While the country had reported over 2,000 deaths in a day on June 16-17, 2020, it was largely due to data reconciliation. Not all deaths reported on June 16-17 had happened in that 24-hour period. A majority of these fatalities had taken place earlier and were only being added to the tally.

India reported a record 2.95 lakh new COVID-19 cases in a span of 24-hours ending April 21, the health ministry’s update suggested. While 1.32 crore patients had recovered, 21.57 lakh cases remained active. India's overall COVID-19 case tally stood at 1.56 crore.

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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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While India had managed to flatten the curve of infections between October 2020 and January 2021, the country is now witnessing a second wave of COVID-19 cases. This has put the country's healthcare system under severe stress.

Daily COVID-19 fatalities being reported in the last five-six days have been higher than what were being recorded during the peak of the first wave in September 2020.

About 27.10 crore COVID-19 tests have been carried out in the country so far, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Of these, 16.39 lakh were conducted yesterday.

Several states in the country are facing a major shortage of hospital beds, and supply of oxygen and essential medicines. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on April 20 that the national capital was left with only a few hours of oxygen supply for COVID-19 patients. He requested the Centre for immediate assistance.

Read | COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: Over 29 lakh people administered shots in India on April 20

Despite the large number of fatalities, the mortality rate in India is at 1.18 percent – significantly lower than the United States' 1.79 percent and Brazil's 2.28 percent. As of April 21, India had the lowest mortality rate among the top-10 worst-affected countries, except Turkey (0.84 percent).

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 21, 2021 10:30 am

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