Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Two months ago, India looked like a coronavirus disaster zone, with nearly 100,000 new infections a day and deaths shooting up. Today, reported infections, deaths and the share of people testing positive have all fallen significantly.

Some researchers say that cases are falling off partly because of a change in testing. Several prominent scientists and doctors have cast doubt on reports that overall infections are dropping in India, saying the lower numbers might be explained by the increased use of less reliable tests and fewer tests being administered.

The experts generally agree that the number of infections has far outstripped efforts to track them in India, like elsewhere, and that infections in the country may still get considerably worse.

The numbers: From a high point of nearly 98,000 daily infections on Sept. 16, the average dropped to about 46,000 cases per day this past week. The number of daily virus deaths has fallen to around 500 from 1,200 in mid-September. By contrast, infections in Europe and the United States are surging.

Details: Mobility data shows that Indians have returned to shopping areas and public spaces. Many are not wearing masks. A large chunk of the population seems resigned to the threat of infection. In many places, said one cardiologist, “people are partying like there is no tomorrow.” Experts project cases will soon be on the rise again.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

China forced the ouster of four pro-democracy lawmakers, effectively silencing Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. The rest of the opposition vowed to resign in protest.

The legislature, which has many seats directly elected by the public, was one of the last vestiges of democracy and dissent in Hong Kong.

The remaining 15 members of the pro-democracy bloc said the legislature was now so compromised that they would work outside the system. “Together we stand!” they chanted as they held hands in the Legislative Council building.

Details: The four lawmakers, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki, Kenneth Leung and Alvin Yeung, had been outspoken about Beijing’s campaign to erode freedoms in Hong Kong. Chinese officials on Wednesday outlined broad new powers that they had granted to their handpicked representatives in the Hong Kong government to remove lawmakers from office.

President Trump and his allies have refused to accept the result showing Joe Biden as the winner and are claiming that the election was stolen. The New York Times called officials in every state; they said that was simply not the case.

Election officials representing both political parties said there was no evidence that voter fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race.

Details: Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times on the question of whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state. None reported any major voting issues.

Counting continues: President-elect Joe Biden’s lead over Mr. Trump in the popular vote grew to five million.

When President-elect Joe Biden thanked Black voters in his victory speech for rescuing his campaign and promised to return the favor, not everyone was cheering. Kourtney Neloms, 42, who is Black, thought, “OK, let’s see if he’s really being honest about this.” Above, a bar in Atlanta during the speech.

In two dozen interviews, African-American voters said they expected the administration to prove its sincerity by addressing racial inequality. The pressure on Mr. Biden may be even greater because of the recent summer of protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

Myanmar elections: The party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi secured even more seats in Parliament than in 2015, when the government began a power-sharing agreement with the military. Many voters from ethnic minorities were prevented from casting their ballots.

TikTok: The video app’s parent company is asking for a 30-day extension on a deadline imposed by the Trump administration for TikTok to be sold to an American buyer.

‘Manterruption’ in Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison came under fire this week for abruptly interrupting a female senior minister who was asked what it’s like to be a woman in Parliament. The video clip of his interruption took off online, and hundreds of women expressed exasperation on Facebook.

Attack on French ceremony: An explosion wounded at least two people at a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during a ceremony organized by the French consulate on Wednesday. The attack comes at a time of heightened tensions between France and a number of Muslim countries.

Manila judge killed: Judge Maria Theresa Abadilla was fatally shot in her office in the Philippine capital’s city hall. The police said the chief clerk at the court shot the judge and then himself. The clerk had been ill with Covid-19 and also had depression, a police officer said.

Snapshot: Above, couriers in Beijing getting ready to make deliveries. In the weeks before China’s Singles’ Day, the online shopping mega event, mail couriers have joined strikes and protests to draw greater attention to their low wages and grueling working conditions.

What we’re reading: This Artnet article about a recent botched art restoration. After a Spanish fresco of Jesus was ruined in 2012, Alexandria Symonds, an editor, writes that she set a Google alert for “botched art restoration, which occasionally pays dividends.” This week, “another statue joined the ranks and Artnet is asking the tough questions, like: ‘What child could produce such a nightmare?’”

Cook: This carrot cake is warmly spiced with cinnamon, packed with coconut, raisins and nuts and finished with a tangy cream cheese dressing.

Listen: Discover and enjoy the soaring voices of Maria Callas, Jessye Norman, Leontyne Price, Renée Fleming and others with these five minutes that will make you love sopranos.

Do: A new study has found that exercise may help to fight cancer by changing the inner workings of certain immune cells.

There are dozens — yes, dozens! — of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do in our At Home collection to help you stay safe at home.

In January, Dr. Ugur Sahin read an article in the medical journal The Lancet that left him convinced that the coronavirus, at the time spreading quickly in parts of China, would explode into a full-blown pandemic.

So Dr. Sahin and scientists at BioNTech, the start-up he founded with his wife, Dr. Özlem Türeci, went to work on what they called Project Lightspeed, using so-called messenger RNA technology to rapidly develop a vaccine.

On Monday, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that a vaccine for the coronavirus developed by Dr. Sahin and his team was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of having previously been infected.

“It could be the beginning of the end of the Covid era,” Dr. Sahin said on Tuesday.

Dr. Sahin, 55, was born in Iskenderun, Turkey, but grew up in Cologne, Germany, where his parents worked at a Ford factory. He met Dr. Türeci early in his career. She had early hopes of becoming a nun but ultimately wound up studying medicine.

Dr. Türeci, now 53 and the chief medical officer of BioNTech, was born in Germany, the daughter of a Turkish physician who immigrated from Istanbul.

On the day they were married, Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci returned to the lab after the ceremony.

Dr. Sahin said he and Dr. Türeci learned about the vaccine’s efficacy data on Sunday night and marked the moment by brewing Turkish tea at home. “We celebrated, of course,” he said. “It was a relief.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh wrote the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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