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Frontline workers are sprayed with disinfectant at a COVID-19 Care Center set up at the Sarojini Naidu Medical College in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, on Monday. Photo: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

India on Tuesday became the second country after the U.S. to report surpassing 20 million COVID-19 cases. The official death toll has surged past 220,000.

Of note: The country's official daily cases count has risen from 65,000 to roughly 370,000 and deaths from more than 300 a day to 3,000 since April 1, AP notes. Experts and local health workers say the actual numbers are much higher.

The big picture: The World Health Organization said Monday more cases had been recorded globally over the past two weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic, with India and Brazil making up more than half of all infections.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic, as hospitals face a widespread oxygen shortage.
  • Still, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been resisting calls for new national restrictions, as several state governments impose lockdowns.

Go deeper: Foreign aid pours into India as COVID-19 crisis worsens

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Aug 12, 2021 - World

New Zealand to gradually reopen to the world next year

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a July press conference in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans Thursday to reopen the country's borders in 2022 while maintaining a COVID-19 elimination strategy — with vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries not required to quarantine.

Why it matters: New Zealand has some of the lowest coronavirus rates in the world, reporting fewer than 2,900 infections and 26 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began. It's detected no community cases for 166 days, containing COVID-19 to managed quarantine facilities.

Biden's big COVID challenge: Fading vaccines may demand boosters

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Biden administration is intensely scrutinizing coronavirus vaccines' effectiveness over time, facing the daunting task of timing booster shots right while still convincing the unvaccinated that getting the jab is worthwhile.

The bottom line: The vaccines still work incredibly well at protecting against severe disease and death, meaning the benefits of getting vaccinated are immense. But it's less clear how well they're working at preventing infection, which has huge public health implications with so many Americans still unvaccinated.

Aug 11, 2021 - Health

The school districts defying Texas, Florida governors and mandating masks

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Several school districts in Florida and at least two in Texas have a message for their governors: Masks for teachers and students are a must, even if it means defying orders.

Driving the news: As students head back to the classroom, health experts across the country are sounding the alarm on the increasing impact of COVID-19 on children, prompting debate — and, at times, threats of funding cuts — over whether masks should be required in schools.