India becomes 3rd nation to top 300,000 official COVID-19 deaths

Ambulance in India
(Image credit: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)

India's health ministry reported 4,454 new COVID-19 deaths on Monday, bringing the country's total death toll to 303,720 since the pandemic began last March. India is only the third nation to top 300,000 deaths, joining the U.S. and Brazil, though the real number of COVID-19 fatalities and cases is widely believed to be much higher than the official count. India also recorded 222,315 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, down from more than 400,000 new cases a day in May but still very high.

India's first big wave of COVID-19 put a massive strain on the country's underfunded health care system. "In the capital, New Delhi, residents have died at home with no oxygen as hospitals exhausted limited supplies," The Associated Press reports. "In Mumbai, COVID-19 patients have died in crowded hospital corridors. In rural villages, fever and breathlessness took people before they were even tested for coronavirus. While the megacities have seen signs of improvement in recent days, the virus isn't finished with India by any means."

Along with overwhelmed hospitals and deadly oxygen shortages, India has struggled to procure enough COVID-19 vaccines. The world's largest producer of vaccines, India has inoculated only about 41.6 million people, or just 3.8 percent of its population, and states are canceling vaccination appointments amid supply shortfalls. Physicians are swamped with patients, and Indians are getting information, or misinformation, from friends and neighbors.

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"Doctors throughout the Indian diaspora, including in the United States, are trying to fill this void from afar through both organized and unofficial channels," The Washington Post reports. "Some are sharing with their Indian counterparts lessons learned on the front lines of America's coronavirus surges. Others are making video calls to friends and relatives to check on their breathing and the care they're receiving."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.