India’s coronavirus cases have passed two million, hitting another grim milestone in the pandemic that has killed more than 41,000 people in the world’s second-most populous country.
The health ministry on Friday said 62,538 cases – the highest one-day jump – were reported in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s total to 2.03 million. Also, 886 new deaths were reported raising the death toll to 41,585.
Many experts doubt the official figures, however, and say the true numbers may be much higher.
India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil.
The South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people has the fifth-most deaths and its death rate of about 2 percent is far lower than the other hardest-hit countries. The rate in the US is 3.3 percent and 3.4 percent in Brazil, Johns Hopkins University figures showed.
India’s health ministry reported the number of recoveries, as a share of total cases, is growing.
The caseload in the world’s second-most populous country has quickly expanded since the government began lifting a months-long lockdown hoping to jumpstart a moribund economy. The Indian government is projecting negative economic growth in 2020.
As life cautiously returned to the streets of the capital, New Delhi, and the financial hub Mumbai, which appear to have passed their peaks, state and local governments elsewhere in India were reimposing lockdowns after sharp spikes in the number of cases.
India had launched two of the world’s prospective vaccines into human trials, with vaccine-maker Zydus Cadila announcing it had completed phase one trials of its DNA-based vaccine on Thursday.
The country will be vital to global vaccination efforts, regardless of whether its own attempts work.
The world’s largest vaccine-maker, the Serum Institute in the central city of Pune, has ramped up capacity to manufacture as many as a billion doses of a vaccine in development by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which is in phase two trials in India and England, and phase three trials in Brazil and South Africa.
Researchers are hoping to launch the Oxford vaccine for emergency use by October.