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Indian prime minister to discuss COVID-19 spike with state leaders


Indian prime minister to discuss COVID-19 spike with state leaders

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Photo: Rajanish Kakade/AP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual meeting today with chief ministers of states and Union Territories to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting occurs after India reported a record high of 103,558 new cases on Sunday. After the US and Brazil, India is the third worst-affected state in the world, having reported 12.7 million cases and over 165,000 deaths. India is also the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by doses produced and sold worldwide, despite only 1 in every 25 nationals having received the COVID-19 vaccine thus far. However, India has actively promoted vaccine diplomacy, having sent shipments to Bangladesh and Afghanistan among other neighbours.

Expect Modi to face pressure to improve immunisation access and to streamline the national vaccination campaign. The rate of infections in India will likely persist as long as Modi continues to hold political rallies and permit religious gatherings among dense urban populations. Despite India’s high infection rate, Modi’s approval rating has only slightly dipped in 2021. With the prime minister enjoying public support amidst a fractured domestic opposition, the nation’s “vaccine friendship” program serves as an opportunity to increase India’s regional influence and global stature, while competing with Chinese and Russian vaccine exports.

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