India [has] set another coronavirus milestone. [On May 19th], authorities announced the country had recorded more than 4,500 deaths from covid-19 for the prior 24 hours, setting a world record.
[A] fast-spreading variant such as [India’s] B.1.617.2 would have “a biological passport for international travel and global spread” — meaning international spread was likely, perhaps inevitable.
“It’s outcompeting the other viruses,” Jeremy Luban of the University of Massachusetts Medical School told NPR [recently]. “It’s replacing whatever variants were there before. And it’s always a concern when something like this changes because we don’t know what will happen.”
The high stakes for slow action have been made clear in India. Despite the country’s strong tradition of manufacturing vaccines, it has been sluggish in getting out doses domestically. This, combined with government complacency and the loosening of restrictions, allowed B.1.617.2 and related variants to spread — killing thousands of Indians each day and threatening the rest of the world.