April 28 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Kara Fox, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT) April 29, 2021
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10:23 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Delhi's crematoriums say they are cremating more than 600 bodies daily – double the official figure

From Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Yevgeny Pakhomov/TASS via Getty Images
Yevgeny Pakhomov/TASS via Getty Images

Delhi’s crematoriums have been cremating more than 600 bodies daily for the last week, the mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) told CNN Wednesday.

The official death toll for Delhi has been just over 300 per day.

“Yes the reported deaths are about 300, but we are definitely having to cremate more than 600 daily, they are deliberately under-reporting deaths,” Jai Prakash, mayor of NDMC, said.

On Monday, Delhi cremated 631 bodies and had 22 burials, according to data from Delhi’s three municipal corporations.  

“We start getting bodies in the morning and they keep coming in one after the other, we have to shut cremations at night otherwise people would bring us bodies even after dark,” Suman Kumar Gupta an official at Delhi’s largest cremation site, Nigambodh Ghat, told CNN Wednesday.

Nigambodh Ghat alone has cremated more than 90 bodies daily between April 19 and April 25, Gupta added.

On Tuesday, Delhi reported 381 new deaths and has reported more than 300 deaths for six consecutive days, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Delhi Health Department.

10:16 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

World’s biggest vaccine producer reduces price of Covid-19 vaccines for Indian states

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi

CEO of Serum Institute India (SII) Adar Poonawalla announced a price reduction for Covid-19 vaccines for states in India, in a measure to save state funds.

He tweeted Wednesday saying that as a philanthropic gesture on behalf of the institute, “I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs.400 to Rs.300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives.”

Some context: The reduction is approximately equivalent to going from US $5.30 per dose to US $4 per dose.

SII manufactures Oxford/AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine.

 

9:54 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Indian state shuts down some vaccination centers due to supply shortage

From CNN’s Swati Gupta

People wait in line to get vaccinated in Mumbai on April 27.
People wait in line to get vaccinated in Mumbai on April 27. Satish Bate/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

The Indian state of Maharashtra has been forced to shut down a number of vaccination centers due to a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines. The exact number of closed vaccination centers is unclear at this point.

“We have shut down a few of the vaccination centers,” the Maharashtra state health minister Rajesh Tope told CNN. "Because of the unavailability (of vaccines) from the central government, we are unable to cater to the needs of every center here."

Maharashtra currently has 4,200 vaccination centers, which have the capacity to vaccinate up to 800,000 people per day. However, the state has been receiving a maximum of 200,000 vaccines each day, Tope said.

"If we could get proper supply or quantity for the entire week, we can show our full potential," he added. 

Tope also said the state is also considering postponing the vaccination drive, which is scheduled to start on May 1 for all adults above 18 years of age. 

"We had actually written to both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, but they are at present not able to supply the quantities we want," Tope said. 

The state will receive only 500,000 doses of Covaxin and none of Oxford's AstraZeneca for the month of May for the 18 to 44-year age group. 

"The government of India should ensure the appropriate supply. There is a real requirement and demand in the state. It is their duty to ensure that Maharashtra gets the amount of vaccines that we demand...The only strategy we have is to vaccinate people," Tope said.

9:48 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

French president will present a “phased” strategy out of the Covid-19 crisis this Friday

From CNN's Pierre Bairin

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a press conference in Paris on April 27.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a press conference in Paris on April 27. Chesnot/Getty Images

France is preparing for a “gradual and phased” lifting of Covid-19 restrictions to be presented to the nation by President Emmanuel Macron on Friday. 

The French prime minister, Jean Castex, said in a news conference on Wednesday that the weekly number of positive cases had dropped by 12,000 from previous weeks to 26,000 for the past seven days. Castex also said the reproduction rate of the epidemic in France stood at 0.89 on Tuesday. “This means two things: the level of circulation remains high, but we are on a real downward trend” he said, before noting that this was slower than last November and the impact on the number of people in ICUs is lessening. 

The prime minister said that the goal of reaching 15 million people vaccinated with one dose by the end of this week and 20 million by mid-May is “well within reach.” 

Castex said the current emergency law, allowing the government to take restrictive measures, will be replaced by a new bill for the period June 2 to Oct. 31.

“This transitional legal framework will allow us to accompany the reopening process with measures adapted to the evolution of the situation – which we believe will continue to improve gradually – but also to have the necessary tools in the event that the epidemic would experience rebound situations,” the prime minister said.

Castex explained that the new bill will allow the government to still control the opening of certain establishments to the public, set limits in terms of movement or gatherings in public spaces as well as setting specific border controls in order to control the pandemic.

9:42 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Singapore sends 256 oxygen cylinders to India

From Gawon Bae in Seoul

Singapore’s government on Wednesday sent 256 oxygen cylinders in two C-130 aircraft to India to help in their efforts in battling surging Covid-19 cases, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry told CNN. 

The Republic of Singapore Air Force transported the cylinders to West Bengal, India, as a “humanitarian assistance,” the ministry said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on his Facebook said, “Hope these oxygen cylinders will be useful to our friends in India in their ongoing efforts against COVID-19.”

The ministry referred to the initiative as a “testament to the close collaboration and partnership across multiple agencies on both sides.”

9:28 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

India's PM approves 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators and 500 new oxygen plants during critical shortage

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the procurement of 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators under the Indian Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund as the country grapples with supplies during a devastating second deadly wave of Covid-19.

The PM-CARES Fund was launched by Modi in March 2020 to provide relief for those affected by the pandemic.

The decision was made at a high-level meeting chaired by Modi Wednesday to discuss measures needed to boost oxygen supplies, with Modi instructing officials to prioritize states with the highest number of cases, read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office.

In addition to the earlier-approved 713 oxygen generation plants under the PM-CARES Fund, a further 500 new plants have also been sanctioned, the statement said. These plants will be constructed using technology developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization.

The plants are designed with a capacity of 1,000 liters per minute (LPM) and can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of 5 LPM and charge 195 cylinders per day, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday.

As cases continue to rise, Indian hospitals are dealing with severe oxygen shortages.

India reported 360,960 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a global record in the number of new cases reported in a day, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

The total number of cases now stands at nearly 18 million, including 201,187 deaths.

9:03 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

It's the responsibility of rich countries to help other countries struggling with Covid-19, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci is pictured testifying before a House Select Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on April 15.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci is pictured testifying before a House Select Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on April 15. Amr Alfiky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it’s the responsibility of wealthy countries to help places that do not have the same level of resources or capabilities as they fight Covid-19.

The US has “really revved up their activity in helping out India,” Fauci told the Guardian Australia, adding that the country is sending oxygen, Remdesivir, PPE and other medications there. Soon, vaccine will be sent, too.

“I think that that’s a responsibility that the rich countries need to assume,” Fauci said. “Right now it’s a terrible tragic situation where people are dying because there’s not enough oxygen, where there’s not enough hospital beds. We have to try, looking forward, to get as much equity when it comes to public health issues as we possibly can."

“Because we’re all in this together. It’s an interconnected world. And there are responsibilities that countries have to each other, particularly if you’re a wealthy country and you’re dealing with countries that don’t have the resources or capabilities that you have,” he continued.

Going forward, he said, global health systems need to be upgraded so that issues can be detected sooner. Transparency and communication between countries is also essential, not just in countries like India, but also for the US. 

Fauci said that although the World Health Organization was trying to accelerate support to India using the COVAX Initiative, “we have to do even more than that.” 

“The only way that you’re going to adequately respond to a global pandemic is by having a global response, and a global response means equity throughout the world,” Fauci said. 

“And that’s something that, unfortunately, has not been accomplished. Often when you have diseases in which there is a limited amount of intervention, be it therapeutic or prevention, this is something that all countries that are relatively rich countries or countries that have a higher income have to pay more attention to.”
9:01 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Fauci says India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine found to neutralize variant first detected in India

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

A health worker prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at a vaccination center in Kolkata, India, on April 24.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at a vaccination center in Kolkata, India, on April 24. Sudipta Das/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said India’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has been found to neutralize the B1.617 variant, first identified in the South Asian nation.

“This (B1.617 variant) is something where we’re still gaining data on a daily basis but the most recent data, was looking at convalescent sera of Covid-19 cases and people who received the vaccine used in India, the Covaxin. It was found to neutralize the 617 variants,” Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a virtual press briefing by the White House Covid-19 Response Team on Tuesday.

Referring to it as the “troublesome India 617,” he added, “despite the real difficulty that we’re seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote against this.”

Covaxin is 78% effective against coronavirus, according to the data released on April 21 by Bharat Biotech, the company that developed the drug jointly with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 100%, with an impact on reduction in hospitalizations, according to the release. 

The vaccine's clinical trial involved 25,800 participants ages 18 to 98. The efficacy figure is based on an early analysis of 43 Covid-19 cases. Thirty-six cases occurred in participants who got a placebo, compared to seven participants who got the vaccine, according to a news release issued in March

About the vaccine: Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine that has been developed in its entirety in India. In March 2020, following the successful sequencing of the novel coronavirus, the ICMR established a public-private partnership with Bharat Biotech to develop the virus isolate into a vaccine candidate.

At a webinar on April 23, India’s top epidemiological experts acknowledged that correlations exist between the rising prevalence of the B1.617 variant and the recent surge in cases in the country.

“In Maharashtra, we saw it (the variant first identified in India) go up we saw an outbreak, we are seeing it go up in Delhi, we are seeing an outbreak, these are very important epidemiological correlations,” said Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. According to Agrawal, the B1.617 variant was first found in India in December.

Another expert said the surge in the national capital region of Delhi is due to the prevalence of variants, including both the B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and B1.617 variant. 

“We have seen a rise from 28 percent of mutated variants in second week of March...to 50 percent in the last week of March...the surge which we are observing in Delhi, I think it directly correlates with the type of variants which we are observing,” according to Sujeet Singh, director of the National Center for Disease Control.

India reported 360,960 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a global record in the number of new cases reported in a day, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

The total number of cases now stands at 17,997,267, including 201,187 deaths.

9:01 a.m. ET, April 28, 2021

US send supplies and aid to India to help with "horrifying" Covid-19 situation

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pictured during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pictured during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on April 15, in Washington, DC. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that the US and CDC are working to send supplies and assistance to India as it faces a “horrifying” situation with Covid-19.

“The situation there is horrifying,” Walensky told said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “Our hearts go out to the entire country as they’re battling this. We’ve been there before.” 

Walensky said that CDC has had a very close relationship with infectious disease experts with the Ministry of Health in India and that CDC is deploying a strike team this week to assist.

They are also working to send over around 500 canisters of oxygen as a start and working to send supplies as soon as possible.