India’s coronavirus infections reached a total of 7.76 million, with 54,366 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours, data from the federal Health Ministry showed on Friday.
The world’s second-most populous country also has the world’s second-highest caseload, behind the United States, which has 8.3 million infections so far.
Deaths in India have been relatively low, with 117,306 mortalities from the coronavirus, out of which 690 were reported in the last 24 hours, the Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party on Thursday promised free doses of any future COVID-19 vaccine for the residents of Bihar if it wins local elections there, drawing accusations of playing politics with the pandemic.
Modi said this week his government was working to ensure the supply of vaccines to all citizens once they were available, but has not made any announcement on their cost.
Releasing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) manifesto for elections in Bihar, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: “Everyone in Bihar will get a vaccine for free, that’s our first manifesto promise.”
The BJP currently rules Bihar with an ally but is facing a united opposition. Elections there start next week over phases, and results are expected on Nov. 10.
Bihar, which is India’s third most populous state and also one of its poorest, has so far reported more than 200,000 coronavirus cases.
“To make this an election-related issue over a humanitarian crisis is highly immoral and unethical,” Priyanka Chaturvedi, a lawmaker and spokeswoman for the Shiv Sena party, a former ally of the BJP, said on Twitter.