India’s Covid deaths cross 500,000 mark

New Delhi, Feb 4 (EFE).- India on Friday crossed the grim milestone of registering 500,000 official Covid deaths, although experts have said that the real figure could be much higher, even as daily cases have been showing a downward trend after a third wave driven by the Omicron variant.

The South Asian country registered 1,072 deaths within the last 24 hours according to health ministry data, taking the total number of deaths due to the pandemic to 500,055.

However, a number of studies and experts have put the real number of deaths at up to 10 times higher than the official figures, as deaths outside health institutions have not been recorded, especially during the chaos triggered by the virulent second coronavirus wave that peaked in April-May 2021.

A study published in July by the nonprofit Center For Global Development had put the number of India’s excess Covid deaths until June 2021 at somewhere between 3.4 million – 4.9 million.

On Friday, India registered 149,394 fresh coronavirus infections, less than half of the peak daily caseload of nearly 350,000 registered on Jan. 21 amid the third wave of the virus. The total number of infections in the country has gone past 41.9 million.

According to statistics compiled by the Johns Hopkins University, India is the second worst-affected country by the pandemic after the United States, which has recorded over 75 million cases, while the Asian nation stands third in the number of deaths after the US (897,000) and Brazil (630,000).

The Omicron variant has become the dominant coronavirus strain in several Indian cities according to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium, while an omicron sub-variant known as BA.2 has been detected in a many parts of India.

However, Indian authorities have stressed that omicron is less virulent than the delta variant, which was predominant during the second Covid wave that led to daily caseloads of over 400,000 and more than 4,000 deaths per day, with hospitals and crematoriums running out of space.

India has administered over 1.68 billion doses of anti-Covid vaccines since it began the drive in January 2021, although only around 724 million of the country’s over 1.35 billion people have been fully vaccinated with both doses. EFE


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