India passes bleak landmark of 8 million coronavirus infections

The world's second-most populous nation also has the second-highest tally of infections after the United States. PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - India crossed a grim milestone of eight million coronavirus cases on Thursday (Oct 29), with a daily rise of 49,881 infections, Health Ministry data showed.

The world's second-most populous nation also has the second-highest tally of infections after the United States, which has recorded 8.8 million.

Cases in India have dipped sharply from September's peak, but experts warn the current festival season could bring another spike.

The South Asian nation's death toll has been low relative to infections, with 517 new deaths in the last 24 hours, carrying the total to 120,527, trailing only the US and Brazil.

India is pinning its hopes on a vaccine to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Drugmaker Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd on Wednesday rolled out a preliminary timeline for the India trials of Russia's coronavirus vaccine candidate, with the late-stage expected to be completed by as early as March 2021.

Chief executive officer Erez Israeli said enrolment to the mid-stage trial of the Sputnik-V vaccine will start in the next few weeks and the trial was likely to end by December.

"(Phase 3 trial) can be over as fast as the end of March, but it could go into April or May," Mr Israeli said on a post-earnings press briefing, adding the timeline will depend on the Phase 2 trial results and further approvals from the authorities.

The ongoing festive season and a state assembly election are seen by healthcare experts as adding to the challenges in containing the outbreak.

The Hyderabad-based company had received renewed approval for late-stage clinical trials in India of the Sputnik-V vaccine earlier this month, after initially signing a deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund in September.

The company expects to enrol 100 participants for the mid-stage trial and 1,500 people for the late-stage.

The drugmaker, which last week isolated all its data centre services as a preventive measure following a cyber attack, said it was a ransomware attack, but was yet to ascertain if any personal information was accessed.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.