The Indian flag at the Wagah border near Amritsar in Punjab, India. Photo by Naveed Ahmed on Unsplash.

By Aida El-Hajjar, age 11

India reported 4,529 deaths in 24 hours, setting a new world record for daily coronavirus deaths on May 19, 2021. When the first wave of the COVID-19 virus hit, the Indian government responded quickly and strictly, putting India among countries with the least cases. But then Prime Minister Narendra Modi, touted by cheerleading media as the “vaccine guru,” relaxed restrictions. Epidemiologists claim that large superspreader rallies, large religious festivals, warmer weather gatherings and the relaxed state of the public led to a major surge in cases. 

Only 15% of India’s population had received their first shot of the vaccine, and just 4% have received both shots as of the end of May. The number of daily doses administered dropped from 4 million a day on April 2 to around 2 million or less by May 19. President Joe Biden promised up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries, but the amount that will be sent to India remains unknown.