India Passes 8M COVID-19 Cases As Numbers Begin To Drop; Experts Discuss Election Promises Of Vaccine, Claims Of Herd Immunity

Devex: In India, a new election promise: A vaccine for COVID-19
“Six days before some 72 million people were scheduled to go to the polls in the eastern state of Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party announced its manifesto which touted the promise of a free COVID-19 vaccine for everyone in the state, if the party was elected. This sparked heated debates, questioning the ethics and substance of such a promise in India’s first major state election since the pandemic started. The manifesto and the criticism that followed prompted the central health minister, also from BJP, to announce that everyone in India would get a free COVID-19 vaccine. But experts are wary, and say that the party is exploiting people’s fears…” (Byatnal, 10/30).

NPR: India Surpasses 8 Million Coronavirus Cases; 2nd Only To U.S.
“India has surpassed 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the second country to reach that milestone after the United States. Daily new cases in India are continuing to drop after a record high in September, and a government-appointed panel of scientists has said that the country is past its peak. But the Hindu festival season, local elections and seasonal air pollution are raising concerns that the virus could surge again…” (Pathak, 10/29).

Science: India’s COVID-19 cases have declined rapidly — but herd immunity is still far away, scientists say
“Last week, a panel of leading scientists appointed by the Indian government delivered a startlingly optimistic message: The world’s second largest COVID-19 epidemic has rounded a corner. India’s daily number of daily new cases has almost halved the past six weeks, and a new mathematical model suggests ‘we may have reached herd immunity,’ some members of the panel wrote in a paper published online by the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Assuming measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing remain in place, the group said the pandemic could be ‘controlled by early next year.’ But other scientists say the model overestimates the number of people already infected and warn that with colder temperatures and several religious holidays approaching, India may well see a second wave…” (Chandrashekhar, 10/29).

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