As of April 25, India has broken the record for the amount of new Covid-19 cases per day four days in a row, and the number of infected people is still continuing to rise. This extreme spread is overwhelming hospitals, many of which no longer have room for new patients or things like oxygen and antiviral drugs, the supplies needed to treat them.
This enormous number of new infections — roughly 350,000 per day — occurred after India saw a dip in their Covid-19 cases around mid-February. On September 14 of 2020 there were about 83,809 cases, but by February 7 of 2021 India reported only 11,500 new cases. The spread seemed under control, and Indian officials lowered Covid-19 restrictions.
“The marked opening up of society – with a huge amount of travel, large gatherings, celebrations of weddings and birthday parties – it led to super-spreader events,” said Dr. Srinath Reddy, an epidemiologist and public health expert in an interview with NPR’s Lauren Frayer. He is working as an advisor of the Indian government on their Covid-19 task force.
Similarly to India a few months ago, the U.S. is starting to see a drop in new Covid cases per day since it peaked on January 11, 2021. At its height, America had over 300,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported, on April 29, 2021, the U.S. reported 58,528.
With the news of fewer new infections, America’s tight restrictions on social gatherings loosened and places like schools and restaurants have opened their doors.
The main difference between trends in the U.S. and India is each country’s vaccination rate. In America, almost 40% of the population has had at least one dose of the vaccine as opposed to India where only about 9% of the population is partially vaccinated against Covid-19. This means that the new wave in India is less likely to occur in the same way in the U.S.
Even as vaccinations continue, we must all do our part to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Even as we continue towards herd immunity, we must remember that controlling the virus’s spread is not just a job for a few people, it is a job for everyone.