Demand for accountability, while India’s voting continues

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for allowing massive political rallies and religious festivals which have been super spreader events in recent weeks, Reuters reports.

More than 8.4 million eligible voters are set to vote on Thursday in the last phase of an eight-part election in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, even as the state witnesses a record rise in coronavirus cases.

“The people of this country are entitled to a full and honest account of what led more than a billion people into a catastrophe,” Vikram Patel, The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in The Hindu newspaper.

India’s real deaths from coronavirus ‘five to 10 times greater

While India’s second wave of infections has overwhelmed the country’s health system, its official death rate is below that of Brazil and the United States, Reuters reports.

India has reported 147.2 deaths per million population, according to the Reuters global tracker, a much lower figure than Brazil and the United States, which reported 1,800 and 1,700 deaths per million population respectively.

However, medical experts believe India’s true numbers may be 5 to 10 times greater than the official tally.

“India’s COVID outbreak is a humanitarian crisis,” U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter.

“I’m leading a letter to @moderna_tx, @pfizer, and @jnjnews to find out what steps they’re taking to expand global access to their vaccines to save lives and prevent variants from spreading around the world.”

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Wednesday against travel to India because of the pandemic and advised its citizens to leave the country.

India awaits 550 oxygen generating plants from global donors

India expects close to 550 oxygen generating plants to come in from all over the world as aid starts pouring in, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Two planes from Russia, carrying 20 oxygen concentrators, 75 ventilators, 150 bedside monitors, and medicines totalling 22 metric tons, have arrived in the capital.

The United States is sending supplies worth more than US$100 million to India, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday. It said the

supplies will begin arriving on Thursday.

The United States also has redirected its own order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India, which will allow it to make over 20 million doses of vaccine, according to the White House.

India will receive a first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on May 1. Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund, which is marketing Sputnik V globally, has already

signed agreements with five leading Indian manufacturers for over 850 million doses of the vaccine a year.

Bangladesh on Thursday said it will send about 10,000 vials of injectable anti-viral, oral anti-viral, 30,000 PPE kits, and several thousand zinc, calcium, vitamin C and other necessary tablets to India.

Germany will send 120 ventilators to India on Saturday, followed by a mobile oxygen production facility next week, its defense ministry said.-Photo: EPA

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