COVID-19 is going to kill more people in 2021 than it did last year. If you want to see why, look at what’s happening in India.

Cases have been surging in the country of 1.37 billion people. On April 18 alone, 261,500 new infections were recorded. That’s as bad as the U.S. during all but the worst five days of the pandemic in December and early January. Case counts are rising far more quickly, too. Average infection numbers over a recent one week period have run at nearly three times the level they did the previous weeks, a pace of growth that the U.S. last saw in the early days of the outbreak a year ago.

The real numbers may be yet higher. The city of Bhopal used COVID-19 protocols to cremate or bury 84 people on April 13, according to the Hindustan Times, while declaring only five COVID-19 deaths. The B.1.617 variant, which isn’t well understood yet, has features associated with higher infection rates and lower antibody resistance. It's turning up in more than half of viral samples taken in India.