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India’s Covid Crisis Threatens the World’s Pandemic Recovery

Updated on May 11, 12:02 AM EDT

What You Need To Know

India is now the epicenter of the world's Covid-19 pandemic, reporting record numbers of new infections each day. Images of hospitals overflowing with the sick and dying are flooding social media, as medical staff and the public alike make desperate appeals for oxygen supplies. More than 245,000 people are reported to have died of the virus, although the true figure is likely much higher.

The political and financial capitals of New Delhi and Mumbai are in lockdown, with only the sound of ambulance sirens punctuating the quiet, but there’s a growing chorus of blame directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his government’s handling of the pandemic.

Modi’s government has sought to block some recent criticism of its response to the virus on Twitter, where the anger and disappointment in India’s leader is manifest.

Key Coverage

  • How India’s Vaccine Drive Crumbled and Left a Country in Chaos
  • World's Biggest Covid Crisis Threatens Modi's Grip on India
  • Bodies Pile Up at India Crematoriums Overwhelmed by Virus Surge

By The Numbers

  • 1.4 billion India's population, which is second only to China
  • 246,116 Number of reported Covid-19 deaths in the country as of May 10
  • 172 million Doses of the vaccine given, representing just 6.3% coverage

Why It Matters

India's surging new wave brought its campaign of vaccine diplomacy to an abrupt halt, after the prime minister had dubbed the South Asian nation the “pharmacy to the world” and over-promised on its ability to send millions of shots abroad.

The country's exports and donations were a critical part of Covax, the World Health Organization’s global program to provide inoculations to low-income countries. When they all but dried up, it left many countries scrambling to find alternatives.

Given India’s growing strategic importance, the crisis risks not only the fledgling recovery in Asia’s third-largest economy, but attempts to tamp down Covid-19 and recuperate globally. Some scientists have linked India's fresh wave to a more virulent strain, with the out-of-control outbreak providing a petri dish for further mutations to evolve that could challenge the vaccines now being distributed from Europe to the U.S.

    In the absence of a strong and capable government, whether you live or die largely depends on who’s in your phone book. 


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