India reported a record 168 912 COVID-19 infections overnight, data from the health ministry showed on Monday, overtaking Brazil to become the second-most affected country globally by the coronavirus.
India’s overall tally reached 13.53 million, surpassing Brazil’s 13.45 million cases, according to data compiled by Reuters. The United States led the global tally with 31.2 million cases.
New deaths in India stood at 904, taking the total to 170 179, data showed.
The country on Sunday banned the export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients as demand rocketed due to a record surge in COVID-19 infections, leading to crippling shortages in many parts.
Authorities have blamed the ferocious resurgence of the virus mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks.
Still, religious gatherings have continued and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have themselves addressed election campaigns attended by tens of thousands of people, many without masks and hardly any following social distancing.
India, known as the pharmacy of the world, has already stalled major exports of coronavirus vaccines though its supply too has run short in some states of the country.
In addition to the Remdesivir ban “till the situation improves”, the health ministry said that manufacturers had been asked to step up supplies.
Seven India-based companies have licensed the drug from Gilead Sciences, with an installed capacity of about 3.9 million units per month, for local use and exports to more than 100 countries.
The companies are: Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Hetero Labs, Jubilant Life Sciences, Biocon’s Syngene, Zydus Cadila Healthcare and the Indian unit of Mylan.
The World Health Organisation in November issued a conditional recommendation against the use of Remdesivir in hospitalised patients, saying there was no evidence that the drug improved survival and other outcomes.
But many countries, including India, have continued its use.
India leads the world in the daily average number of new infections reported in more than two weeks, accounting for one in every six infections reported globally each day.