The milestone, as recorded by India’s health ministry, comes as slowed vaccine deliveries have marred the country’s fight against the pandemic, causing many to miss their injections, and a rare fungal infection but deadly affecting COVID-19 patients worried doctors.
The Ministry of Health on Monday reported 4,454 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths in India to 303,720. It also reported 222,315 new infections, bringing the overall total to nearly 27 million. Both are almost certainly underestimated.
From isolated Himalayan villages in the north, to the vast humid central plains and sandy beaches of the south, the pandemic has overwhelmed India’s underfunded health care system after rapid spread across the country.
In the capital, New Delhi, residents have died in their homes without oxygen as hospitals run out of limited supplies. In Mumbai, COVID-19 patients have died in crowded hospital corridors. In rural villages, fever and shortness of breath brought people in even before they were tested for the coronavirus.
While mega-cities have seen signs of improvement in recent days, the virus is by no means over with India. It appears to have already wreaked havoc in the country’s vast rural areas, where the majority of the population lives and healthcare is limited.
In recent weeks, hundreds of bodies have washed up on the banks of the Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Many more have been found buried in shallow graves along its sandy shores. This raised concerns that these were the remains of COVID-19 victims.
The vaccination campaign in India has also slowed recently, and many states say they do not have enough vaccines to administer.
The world’s largest vaccine-producing country has fully immunized just over 41.6 million people, or just 3.8 percent of its population of nearly 1.4 billion.
The first known death from COVID-19 in India occurred on March 12, 2020, in the southern state of Karnataka. It took seven months to reach the first 100,000 dead. The death toll killed 200,000 at the end of April. The next 100,000 deaths were recorded in just 27 days after new infections ravaged cities and dense rural areas and overwhelmed health systems on the brink of collapse.
Average daily deaths and cases have declined slightly in recent weeks, and the government announced on Sunday that it was performing the highest number of COVID-19 tests, with more than 2.1 million samples tested in the 24 previous hours.