Agency: India’s coronavirus crisis, which was killing thousands of people a day just seven months ago, has eased after the nation’s leaders revamped policies and drastically ramped up their vaccination drive.
Now, as India celebrates the delivery of its one billionth dose, a feat that until recently seemed improbable, public health experts are sounding a new warning: The turnaround is losing steam.
Vaccinations are slowing, with only one-quarter of India’s population fully inoculated. People are crowding again for religious festivals, and the government is still taking the approach that things are calming down.
Numbers: By official figures, daily infections have plunged to about 12,000 per day, from about 42,000 four months ago. Deaths, too, have fallen by half, to about 400 per day. More than three out of four adults have received at least one shot.
Context: India’s progress is a key part of ending the pandemic globally. After a deadly wave, the government threw money at vaccine production, stopped vaccine exports and tossed out cumbersome rules that had made it hard for local officials to procure shots.
What’s next: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned from a climate conference, he met with officials to tackle areas of the country where fewer than half of residents were fully vaccinated.