Inside India’s COVID-19 Surge

May 4, 2021

(The New Yorker) – For Arora, as for many Indians, the apocalyptic COVID-19 surge the country now faces was unexpected. In March, cases started to rise in the western state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai. “We thought it would be like the first wave,” Arora said. “We thought things would pick up but pretty much be manageable. You always reason from your past experience.” Today, India is home to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world—a medical and humanitarian crisis on a scale not yet seen during the pandemic. Though the reported case numbers are in the hundreds of thousands, some experts estimate that millions of Indians are infected each day; thousands are dying, with more deaths going uncounted or unreported. More than one in every five coronavirus tests returns positive—a marker of insufficient testing and rampant viral spread. Hospitals are running out of oxygen, staff, and beds; makeshift funeral pyres burn through the night as crematoriums are flooded with dead bodies.