Lauren Frayer | Michigan Radio
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Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

India has now reported more than 20 million coronavirus infections, including nearly 3.5 million people who are actively being treated for COVID-19. The country's health system is in a state of collapse as hospitals and clinics face dire shortages of beds and lifesaving supplies.

MUMBAI — About 100 vaccination centers abruptly shut down Friday in India's financial capital, Mumbai, amid a shortage of doses and as the country confirmed its highest daily jump in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

MUMBAI — India confirmed another record jump in COVID-19 cases Wednesday, as the world's biggest vaccine maker said it was "very stressed" and needs help from the Indian government to boost production.

India is struggling to speed up vaccinations amid its sharpest spike in coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Authorities are also trying to balance stricter curbs on movement while also ensuring fair voting in five regions holding state elections throughout the month.

MUMBAI — India on Monday recorded its biggest daily jump in coronavirus infections, joining only a handful of countries, including the United States, to cross the threshold of 100,000 new cases in a single day.

A surge is happening across South Asia. Pakistan's prime minister and president are among those to test positive in recent weeks. A one-week lockdown began in Bangladesh on Monday.

It turns out a COVID-19 vaccine that stirred controversy in India may be effective after all.

Cheers erupted in hospital wards across India on Saturday as a first group of nurses and sanitation workers rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated against COVID-19, at the start of what's likely to become the biggest national vaccination campaign in history.

India aims to vaccinate 300 million people by July, though it could take an additional two or more years to inoculate all nearly 1.4 billion Indians. The shots are voluntary. Hospitals and clinics have been setting up and rehearsing for weeks.

As India embarks this weekend on what may become the biggest national vaccination campaign in the world, some scientists have raised questions about one of the two vaccines the country of 1.4 billion people has authorized for emergency use against COVID-19.

More than 5 million vaccine vials arrived early Wednesday at hundreds of hospitals and clinics across India. Inoculations start Saturday. India aims to vaccinate 300 million people by July.

India's total reported coronavirus cases have surpassed 9 million – a milestone so far crossed only by the United States.

But new infections appear to be declining in India, with 45,882 new cases reported Friday, compared to daily tallies that were more than double that, in September.

Some scientists have questioned the reliability of India's testing regime and kits.

After Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris paid tribute to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an Indian immigrant, in her victory speech Saturday night, Twitter erupted in celebration of Indian moms.

One Twitter user posted a video of his own mother, dancing to Indian music.

Firecrackers erupted Sunday in a tiny village surrounded by lush green rice paddies in southern India, where Kamala Harris' maternal grandfather was born. Residents wrote in colorful rangoli powder on a dirt lane in front of their homes: "Congratulations Kamala Harris. Pride of our village."

Harris will be the first Asian American elected vice president in the United States, in addition to becoming the first Black vice president and the first female vice president. Harris was born in California. Her late mother was born in India, and her father is from Jamaica.

Visitors are capped at 5,000 a day. Everyone must wear a mask and have their temperature taken. Tickets are digital. Selfies are allowed, but no group photos. And no touching the gleaming white marble.

Those are among the new coronavirus-era rules at India's Taj Mahal, which reopened to tourists at sunrise Monday for the first time in more than six months. The monument shut on March 17, just days before India imposed the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown, when infections were still low in the country.

With nearly 98,000 new coronavirus cases confirmed Thursday, India again broke the record for the highest daily tally of infections for any country since the pandemic began. It is on track, within weeks, to become the worst-affected country in the world.

India's parliament reopened Monday for the first time in nearly six months, but at least 25 lawmakers were barred from entering the chamber after testing positive for the coronavirus.

With the coronavirus spreading faster in India than anywhere in the world, the Indian government on Monday announced the country's biggest economic contraction in 24 years.

Every year in Mumbai, India, as the monsoon abates, the city resounds with chants praising Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom and luck, and the remover of obstacles. But this year, city officials have to find creative ways around a huge obstacle: how to allow faithful to celebrate one of India's biggest festivals safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

With 32,695 new coronavirus cases, India broke its own record Thursday for the virus's biggest daily spike.

India has been setting such records almost daily. Only the United States and Brazil have had more infections.

India has now surpassed Russia to become the third-worst country affected by the coronavirus, in terms of total infections. Only the United States and Brazil have more.

On Tuesday, India's death toll from COVID-19 crossed 20,000 and its total caseload now exceeds 700,000. Both tallies are now rising at their fastest pace since the pandemic began.

The Trump administration's latest freeze on certain types of work visas, designed to protect American jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, is having a disproportionate effect on workers in India.

India reported a record spike in coronavirus cases Thursday, even as the prime minister ruled out a new nationwide lockdown.

With 12,881 new infections registered, it's the first time India's daily tally has exceeded 12,000. For most of this week, only the United States and Brazil have been adding more new cases daily.

For more than a decade, Sampa Akter worked 12 hours a day at a garment factory in Bangladesh's capital, sewing denim jeans destined for shopping malls around the world. Earning $95 a month, she's been able to support her disabled brother, her sister and their parents.

That is, until late March — when her factory closed because of the coronavirus. Bangladesh has confirmed more than 57,000 cases and nearly 800 COVID-19 deaths in a population of 160 million.

India and Pakistan have experienced their largest single-day increase in coronavirus infections, confirming more than 14,700 cases between them Friday, as the virus shows no sign of peaking in South Asia.

Each country now exceeds the number of reported cases from China, where the pandemic originated.

This story was updated on July 6 at 1:07 p.m.

When her father got hurt, a 15-year-old Indian girl used their last $20 to buy a rickety, hot pink bicycle, and pedaled him more than 700 miles to their home village across India — in a heroic, life-saving ride while under coronavirus lockdown.

The story of Jyoti Kumari's epic bike ride has made her a media celebrity, prompted praise from Ivanka Trump and won her offers to try out for India's Olympic team and star as herself in a Bollywood movie.

With India under a nationwide lockdown and religious gatherings banned, Islamic clerics are urging Muslims to observe this weekend's Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of Ramadan, at home with social distancing.

A storm of massive proportions has thumped the coastal border regions of India and Bangladesh, slinging heavy rains and gusts exceeding 100 mph when it made landfall. After days of churning in the Bay of Bengal, Cyclone Amphan came ashore Wednesday afternoon local time on the northeastern coast of India with the strength of a Category 2 hurricane.

The world's biggest coronavirus lockdown has been extended by another two weeks.

For the past five weeks in India, more than 1.3 billion people have been required to shelter indoors, with few exceptions. The lockdown was due to expire Sunday night.

For police, the new coronavirus poses a dilemma: How do you apprehend a suspect in the era of social distancing?

In India, they've come up with a way to lengthen the long arms of the law: giant tongs.

Chinese officials on Tuesday criticized India's decision to cancel orders for more than half a million antibody testing kits. India's decision, announced Monday, came amid accuracy concerns surrounding the Chinese-made kits.

"It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as 'faulty' and look at issues with preemptive prejudice," Ji Rong, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, said in a statement.

When novel coronavirus cases first emerged in India, authorities acted swiftly. They halted public transit, scrambled to stockpile medical gear and ordered more than 1.3 billion residents to stay indoors. Everyone braced for the worst.

On the first day of India's coronavirus lockdown a month ago, Amar Sankrit realized he couldn't get to work.

Sankrit, 21, normally rides a bus two hours each way to a call center outside New Delhi where he has worked for the past year. His company handles customer service queries for U.S. and U.K. telecom companies.

But on March 25, all public transit was halted. He didn't own a laptop, so he couldn't work from home. He worried about losing pay. On a salary of about $3,000 a year, Sankrit helps support his mother.

Cowering in the grass, a young Muslim man begs for his life.

He's shaking. His hands and face are bloody. His attackers beat him and threaten to douse him with fuel and set him on fire. They accuse him of intentionally trying to spread the coronavirus.

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