India has crossed the seven lakh-mark in novel coronavirus cases, with the 3,827 new cases reported by Monday evening taking the total number of cases in the country to 7,01,240.
Of these, over 2.5 lakh are active cases and 19,693 are deaths linked to the virus. The number of people to have successfully recovered from the infectious COVID-19 virus is around 4.24 lakh.
It has taken just four days for India to record one lakh new COVID-19 cases, with more than 20,000 new cases reported every day since July 3 and over 24,000 detected in each of the past two.
By comparison, it took 110 days to record the first one lakh cases. The country crossed the two lakh-mark on June 3, three lakh-mark in the next 10 days and had logged four lakh cases by June 21.
India's first case was reported by Kerala in January - a student returning from China's Wuhan, the original epicentre of a pandemic that has infected over 1.14 crore people worldwide.
At this point, only the United States and Brazil have reported more COVID-19 cases than India; the US has nearly 29 lakh cases while Brazil has a little over 16 lakh.
Within India, Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state with more than two lakh cases. Tamil Nadu is second with 1.11 lakh and national capital Delhi - also the worst-affected metro city - is third with more than 99,000 COVID-19 cases.
The continuing spike in COVID-19 cases - the country recorded 24,248 new cases over the preceding 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed this morning - is a worrying sign as the government looks to "Unlock" an economy that has been nearly crippled by a lockdown seen by many as the world's strictest.
Amid the spike in cases the ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) is looking to fast-track Phase I, II human clinical trials for COVAXIN - India's first coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech's new drug is expected to go into Phase I trials next week, with Phase II to follow pending results. More than 1,100 people will be selected for Phase I, II trials, Bharat Biotech said in its application for testing on humans.
The government has said a vaccine will be launched by August 15 - a statement that invited criticism from opposition parties accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to score political points.
Medical experts also cautioned against rushing drug trials, pointing to possible health risks to patients.
On Saturday the ICMR, the government's nodal agency in this crisis clarified, saying it only sought to "cut through unnecessary red tape and speed up recruitment" for the trials.
Phase I trials for COVAXIN are scheduled to be completed in 28 days - which would put it on track for an August 15 release.
However, it is unclear how the vaccine can be launched without completion of Phase II, III trials. Bharat Biotech's application, accessed by NDTV, lists 15 months as the estimated duration of clinical trials
Dozens of vaccine candidates are at various stages of development around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. India, a leading manufacturer of vaccines and generic medicines, is expected to play a key role in this race.