Coronavirus: India surpasses two million cases

India hit another grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday as authorities reported more than two million cases.

The country has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil, but its fatality rate of about 2% is far lower than the other hardest-hit countries.

The rate in the US is 3.3% and 3.4% in Brazil, Johns Hopkins University figures showed.

The health ministry said 62,585 cases were reported in the past 24 hours on Friday, raising the nation’s total to 2,027,074. The number of deaths with those suffering from Covid-19 stood at 41,585.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>62,585 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s total to 2,027,074 (AP Photo/Channi Anand)</figcaption>
62,585 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s total to 2,027,074 (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

The caseload in the world’s second-most populous country has quickly expanded since the government began lifting a 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 of New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai, which appear to have passed their peaks, state and local governments elsewhere in India were reimposing lockdowns after sharp spikes in growth.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>A serological survey is currently underway to undertake a comprehensive analysis of Covid-19 in Delhi (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)</figcaption>
A serological survey is currently underway to undertake a comprehensive analysis of Covid-19 in Delhi (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

India had launched two of the world’s dozen and a half 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 the UK, and phase three trials in Brazil and South Africa.

Researchers are hoping to launch the Oxford vaccine for emergency use by October.