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Could vaccine patent waivers end India’s COVID crisis?

India has reported a new record daily coronavirus death toll. More than 4,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Once again, over 400,000 new infections have been recorded. Critics say these official figures undercount the full extent of the crisis. Many fear that religious gatherings are causing the virus to spread even faster. EU leaders meeting in Portugal are focusing on relations with India on day two of their summit.

They’re set to discuss the dramatic situation there with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Bloc members are skeptical over a US proposal – strongly supported by India – to waive patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines. While some countries favor the plan, larger EU states are firmly opposed – pushing instead for greater vaccine production. Council President Charles Michel says the US must make the first move. Meanwhile, in some places in India, it is hard to believe the country is in crisis.

In the southern city of Hyderabad Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan are out shopping – some feeling lax about safety rules. Many mosques remained shut over coronavirus fears – despite the weekend’s Islamic holidays and preparations for the Eid festival. Still, others ignored official warnings and let people gather for prayer in large numbers. Gatherings like these are driving India’s second coronavirus wave. It has been much more infectious, partly due to new variants of the virus. As the number of those testing positive surges, so does the death count.

Relatives are desperate to get help for their infected loved ones in time. Burial sites and crematoriums are overwhelmed. Many are now forced to bring the bodies to makeshift cremation sites instead. For now, India continues to count its losses to the pandemic in more fire and smoke.

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In the last 24 hours, 8418 more corona infections have been reported in Nepal. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 18,304 cases have been reported.

At the same time, the total number of corona sufferers across the country has reached 385,890, the number of those who have recovered has reached 298,765 and the total number of deaths has reached 3632. Till today, 83 thousand 493 people have been actively infected across the country.

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