As the number of confirmed cases in India has pulled back in recent days, but that didn't stop India from reporting a record jump in daily deaths attributed to the virus on Tuesday as the total number of confirmed cases in the country finally topped 25 million.
Some 260K new cases were registered, along with the record 4,329 deaths. In a promising sign, the number of active cases also declined. Still, over the past month, the number of daily cases has tripled, while the number of daily deaths has risen 6x.
Earlier today, media reports claimed that India's Serum Institute, one of the world's largest vaccine producers, will be so preoccupied producing jabs for the Indian citizenry that it won't be able to continue with exports until the end of the year, extending an earlier freeze.
"We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India," said Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday. "We also hope to start delivering to Covax and other countries by the end of this year," he added, a reference to the WHO's woefully under-funded program to distribute vaccines to the developing world.
Now, an Indian TV station is reporting that a record 50 doctors died across India in the span of a single day this week.
According to the Indian Medical Association, 244 doctors have lost their lives due to COVID in the second wave. Of these, some 50 deaths were recorded on Sunday alone. The highest number of fatalities have been reported from Bihar (69) followed by Uttar Pradesh (34) and Delhi (27). Only 3% of the deceased were fully vaccinated, which stems from the shortage in vaccine supplies. Five months into India's vaccination drive, only 66% of the country's healthcare workers have been fully vaccinated. The IMA said it is making all possible efforts to encourage doctors to take the jab.
Dr. Jayesh Lele, the General Secretary of IMA, told NDTV: "It is very unfortunate that we lost 50 doctors yesterday across India and 244 in the second wave since the first week of April." The IMA, he said, has found that many doctors have not taken the vaccine and the organisation will do everything it can to ensure that all doctors who are on the frontline take the jab.
"Secondly we want to highlight that doctors are understaffed and overworked. They sometimes work for 48 hours at a stretch without any rest. This adds to the viral load and they ultimately succumb to the infection. The government needs to take measures to boost the healthcare workforce," he added.
One young doctor who died in New Delhi was only 26 - a junior resident at Delhi's Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. The doctor, Anas Mujahid, is the youngest of the 244 doctors who have died since the start of the year. Mujahid had minor symptoms like sore throat and tested positive in an antigen test at the hospital. But in a rare case of sudden progression, he collapsed soon after and died due to an outbreak of intracranial bleeding. He had no comorbidities.
Since last spring, the IMA has counted at least 1,000 deaths of physicians due to the virus, though NDTV warned the actual number is likely higher, as many deaths haven't been accurately recorded.