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India’s COVID-19 crisis deepens as double mutant variant spreads

The crisis in India appears to be far from over with the country registering a new world record for daily coronavirus infections for the fourth day in a row.

The surging number of new infections is mounting more strain on its crisis-hit hospitals.

The country recorded nearly 350,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total to almost 17 million since the pandemic began.

Hospitals have run out of beds, medical oxygen and drugs with some patients dying waiting to be seen by doctors.

Standing with India

Several countries around the world, including the United States, Germany and France have offered to send aid to India. 

U.S President Joe Biden said the U.S was determined to help India as it confronts spiking coronavirus cases.

 “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” said Biden in a tweet Sunday.

The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said France will also send oxygen respiratory equipment to India to help the country deal with a wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths. 

Earlier on Sunday, the European Commission activated its European Union Civil Protection Mechanism as it readies to send oxygen and medicine to India after receiving a request from Narendra Modi’s government.

Double mutant variant

Coronavirus crisis in India is partly attributed to the highly infectious B.1.617 variant that is spreading its tentacles to other countries.

Israel has confirmed eight cases of the variant and believes the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is effective against to some extent.

Seven of the eight infections in the Middle Eastern country were identified last week among people arriving from outside the country.

“The impression is that the Pfizer vaccine has efficacy against it, albeit a reduced efficacy,” Reuters quotes the health ministry’s director-general, Hezi Levy.

The B.1.617 or “double mutant” Indian variant carries two mutations including the L452R and E484Q which have been seen separately before in other variants but never together in one variant.

So far, Greece has reported 2 cases of the Indian variant and Switzerland has recorded one case of the same variant.

The U.K. is also investigating the variant from India after detecting it within its borders. With the unfolding situation in New Delhi, a number of countries have suspended flights from India. They include U.S, U.K, Kuwait, France and Canada with the list likely to grow in the coming days.

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