India posted yet another record of 412,000 cases in the space of 24 hours and 3,980 deaths.
The western state of Maharashtra, which has had the highest caseload throughout the pandemic, reported 920 deaths.
The northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south reported their highest fatalities in a single day on Wednesday.
India has officially reported over 21.07 million infections and over 230,100 Covid-19 deaths, which experts say is vastly undercounted.
THIRD WAVE INEVITABLE
The government’s top scientific adviser has warned that the third wave is inevitable.
At a health ministry briefing K Vijay Raghavan admitted that experts had not anticipated the “ferocity” of the surge in cases.
“Phase three is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus,” he said. “But it is not clear on what timescale this phase three will occur… We should prepare for new waves.”
The current surge of the virus has already overwhelmed the healthcare system with hospital beds, oxygen and even crematorium space in short supply.
Several states are under localised lockdowns and curfews, but the government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, for fear of the impact on the economy.
DOUBLE MUTATNT LINKED TO ‘SURGE’
The “double mutant variant” of the coronavirus first discovered in March may be “linked” to a deadly second wave.
Samples containing the mutant (B.1.617 variant) have been found in several states with high case numbers.
Out of roughly 13,000 samples sequenced, more than 3,500 were found to be variants of concern including the B.1.617 variant across eight states.
The B.1.617 variant was reported in several states reporting surges including Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
India is sequencing just over 1% of all samples at the moment compared to the required 5%.
For more than a month, India insisted that the variant had no link to the current surge. Although the central government now says there is a correlation, it added the link is not “fully established”.
“Its epidemiological and clinical correlation is not fully established…without the correlation, we cannot establish direct linkage to any surge. However, we have advised states to strengthen public health response —increase testing, quick isolation, prevent crowds, vaccination,” Sujeet Singh, National Centre for Disease Control said.