Health experts in India claim the South Asian nation is recording about 3 million COVID-19 cases daily contrary to official reports which put the figure at about 300 thousand.
Official reports say India recorded 386 452 news cases on Friday, while deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3 498 over the last 24 hours.
Medical experts believe actual COVID-19 numbers in the world’s second densely populated nation are likely five to 10 times greater than the official tally.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet the cabinet of ministers on Friday as the wave of infections cripples the nation’s health system and threatens to impact major businesses.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has donated 400 oxygen cylinders and hospital gear to New Delhi, a city of 29 million which has been recording an average of 23 500 new infections per day. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter:
Just as India came to our aid early in the pandemic, the U.S. is committed to working urgently to provide assistance to India in its time of need.
Today we are proud to deliver our first shipment of critical oxygen equipment, therapeutics and raw materials for vaccine production.
The US will also send over $100 million in medical aid, including 1 000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests.
It also has redirected its own order of AstraZeneca supplies to India, to allow it to make more than 20 million doses.
Disease modeller, Chris Murray, from the University of Washington, said the sheer magnitude of infections in India in a short period of time suggests an ‘escape variant’ may be overwhelming any prior immunity from natural infections in those populations.
Prime Minister Modi has been criticised for allowing massive political rallies and religious festivals which have been super-spreader events in recent weeks.