India reported another record daily rise in coronavirus cases, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million, as the country's vaccination rate falls dramatically due to a lack of supplies and transport problems.
As India's deadly second wave of Covid-19 continues unabated and its total number of cases now stand at 21.49 million, with infections spreading from overcrowded cities to remote rural villages that are home to nearly 70% of the 1.3 billion population.
The country reported a record daily 414,188 new cases today, while deaths from Covid-19 increased by 3,915, bringing total deaths to 234,083.
Medical experts say the real extent of Covid-19 in India is five to 10 times the official tallies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became "super spreader" events.
His government has also been criticised for delays in the country's vaccination programme, which medical experts say is India's only hope of controlling the second wave.
While India is the world's biggest vaccine maker, it is struggling to produce enough doses.
Mr Modi has stressed that Indian states must keep up vaccination rates. Although the country has administered at least 157 million vaccine doses, its rate of inoculation has fallen sharply in recent days.
The European Union yesterday backed a US proposal to discuss waiving patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to increase the supply and access to vaccines, especially in vulnerable developing countries.
India's healthcare system is crumbling under the weight of Covid-19 patients, with hospitals running out of beds and medical oxygen. Morgues and crematoriums can not handle the number of dead and makeshift funeral pyres burn in parks and carparks.
Although northern and western India bear the brunt of the disease, the share of the five southern states in the country's daily surge in infections rose from 28% to 33% in the first seven days of May, data shows.
In the southern city of Chennai, only one in a hundred oxygen supported beds and two in a hundred beds in intensive care units were vacant yesterday, from a vacancy rate of over 20% each two weeks ago, government data showed.
In India's tech capital Bengaluru, only 23 of the 590 beds in intensive care units were vacant, and only 1 in 50 beds with a ventilator were vacant, a situation officials say points to an impending crisis.
Several Indian states have imposed various levels of social restrictions to try to stem infections, but the federal government has resisted imposing a national lockdown.
"At times like this, people look for some sign that politicians are listening...what is happening today is a betrayal of hope and a slap in the face of the dream that was a modern progressive India," columnist Vir Sanghvi wrote in the Hindustan Times.
"We will beat Covid eventually. But by then thousands morewill have lost their lives."
Aid from foreign countries continued to pour in, as consignments from Poland, Netherlands and Switzerland reached India today, foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.
????????— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) May 7, 2021
International collaboration continues! Consignment of 100 oxygen concentrators arrives from Poland. Thank our EU partner ???? for this support. pic.twitter.com/VBqWC8ikoP