India on Thursday recorded 12,881 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 1,09,50,201, data from the Union health ministry showed. The toll climbed by 101 to 1,56,014. There are 1,37,342 active cases, which is 1.25% of the total caseload. As many as 1,06,56,845 people have been discharged, putting the recovery rate at 97.32%.

India has so far vaccinated 94,22,228 healthcare and other frontline workers. Of these, 4,22,998 were inoculated on Wednesday.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 20,87,03,791 samples have been tested up till February 17, with 7,26,562 tests being conducted on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, India announced a gift of 2 lakh coronavirus vaccine doses for United Nations peacekeepers. At the United Nations Security Council, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who made the announcement, quoted the ancient Hindu text Bhagavad Gita, saying: “Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.”

Vaccine nationalism

Jaishankar also urged the international community to stop “vaccine nationalism” and promote internationalism. “Hoarding superfluous doses will defeat our efforts towards attaining collective health security,” he said, according to PTI.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also criticised the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of coronavirus vaccines at the Security Council debate, reported AP. He said that 130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine and declared that “at this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community”.

Speaking on the same lines, World Health Organization’s Assistant Director General Dr Peter Singer said the single biggest challenge this year would be ensuring that people in all countries, whether rich or poor, get access to the coronavirus vaccine, reported PTI. “Overcoming the pandemic was crucial to achieving the other UN goals such as reduction of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, gender inequality and air pollution, besides ensuring the availability of clean water and sanitation,” he said, addressing a virtual event in Kerala.

Other global updates

  • Australian state Victoria and Auckland in New Zealand will exit their lockdowns on Thursday, reported BBC. Australian authorities said they have controlled a hotel quarantine cluster in Melbourne, which caused a five-day lockdown. New Zealand will lift the restriction put in place in Auckland three days ago, despite three new local cases.
  • In Britain, the government said it will begin a study in a month where volunteers will be exposed to the coronavirus, reported AFP. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that the first-of-its-kind study will expose up to 90 volunteers between 18 and 30 years old to Covid-19 in a controlled environment. The trial is looking to establish the smallest amount of coronavirus needed for infection, in order to help develop vaccines and treatments.
  • Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 10.98 crore people and killed over 24.29 lakh, according to John Hopkins University. Over 6.18 crore people have recovered from the infection in the world.