“The worst is definitely over,” a relieved Saxena said.
But now India faces the challenge of trying to gain the upper hand. A resurgence of the coronavirus is feared by many public health experts if nothing is done. Key to the scramble is a renewed vaccination push and efforts to boost India’s medical infrastructure to stockpile supplies, such as oxygen cylinders, and augment care networks from city slums to far-flung villages.
Failure could be brutal. India is reeling from a pandemic punch that brought staggering official daily death tolls of more than 4,500 at its peak in mid-May. At present, just 3.5 percent of India’s more than 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated. And the clock is ticking. The timing and intensity of another surge remain difficult to predict. K. VijayRaghavan, a scientific adviser to the government, told reporters last month that a third wave was “inevitable” as the virus mutates. But, he said, the level of a coronavirus rebound could be reduced with strong measures.