Nationwide inoculation delayed as infections surge
Several Indian states have run out of Covid-19 vaccines a day before a planned widening of a nationwide inoculation drive, authorities said on Friday, as new infections in the crisis-hit country surged to another daily record.
India reported 386,452 news cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths from Covid-19 jumped by 3,498 over the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data.
However, medical experts believe actual Covid-19 numbers may be five to 10 times greater than the official tally.
India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, when its second wave picked up steam, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases.
The world’s second-most populous nation is in deep crisis, with hospitals and morgues overwhelmed by the pandemic, medicines and oxygen in short supply and strict curbs on movement in its biggest cities.
India is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines but does not have enough stockpiles to keep up with the second deadly Covid-19 wave, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government planning to vaccinate all adults starting May 1. Only about 9 per cent of India’s 1.4 billion people have received a vaccine dose since January.
“I registered to get a slot 28 days before, but now they are saying there are no vaccines,” Twitter user Jasmin Oza said in a video post. India had originally planned to vaccinate only 300 million of its highest-risk people by August, but widened the target due to the rise in cases.
However, its two vaccine producers were already struggling to increase capacity beyond 80 million doses a month due to a shortage of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute, which manufactures AstraZeneca’s vaccine in India.