India’s Health Ministry says the South Asian nation has now surpassed five million total COVID-19 cases.
The country reached the grim milestone Wednesday when the Health Ministry reported 90,123 new infections, with 1,290 deaths, in the past 24 hours.
According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking website, India now has 5,020,359 total coronavirus cases, including 82,066 deaths, among its nearly 1.4 billion population. The country has reported one million new cases since September 5, when it reached the four million mark.
India imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in March in the early days of the pandemic, which brought nearly all economic activity to a standstill. The growing surge of new COVID-19 cases comes as the country gradually relaxed the restrictions.
India’s coronavirus rates are second only to the United States, which has posted 6,606,293 total cases, including 195,947 deaths.
During a nationally televised town hall appearance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said the country was “within weeks” of getting COVID-19 vaccine, contradicting predictions by leading health experts that a possible vaccine will be ready much later.
President Trump's prediction that it “could be three weeks, four weeks” when a new vaccine would be available is a repeat of previous claims that such a vaccine would be ready before the November 3 presidential election.
The president also told ABC news moderator George Stephanopoulos that the virus would eventually disappear without a vaccine, citing the theory of herd immunity, in which a large part of the population becomes resistant to an infectious disease after an initial phase of widespread infections, although the president inadvertently used the phrase “herd mentality.”
But Trump also said COVID-19 “will go away very quickly” with a vaccine.
And Trump’s defense of his administration’s overall response during the town hall came hours after the nonpartisan Pew Research Center issued a survey showing that only 15% of people across 13 nations believe the United States handled the pandemic well, compared to 85% who said the U.S. had responded poorly.
The respondents gave much higher marks to the World Health Organization, which Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from amid accusations of corruption, and China, where the virus was first detected late last year.