Indian states run out of corona vaccines

1 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

NEW DELHI: Several Indian states have run out of Covid-19 vaccines a day before a planned widening of a nationwide inoculation drive, as new infections in the country surged to another daily record.

India reported 386,452 news cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths from Covid-19 jumped by 3498 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, reports Reuters.

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 on May 1.

Only about nine 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.

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.

Inoculation centres in Mumbai will be shut for three days starting on Friday because of the shortage of vaccines, authorities said.

In the southern state of Karnataka, home to the tech hub of Bengaluru, the state’s health minister said Karnataka’s vaccination drive for adults will not begin on May 1.

“The state government has not received any information from companies about when they will be able to supply these vaccines,” Health Minister K Sudhakar said.

In Modi’s home state of Gujarat, officials said vaccination for the 18-45 age group is anticipated to start in a fortnight, as the state expects to receive vaccines by then.

“We will begin vaccinating those above 18 when we have the vaccine stocks. We are working very hard to get the vaccines, and I am confident we will be able to start the vaccination within the next 15 days,” the state’s Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.

Officials in the eastern state of Odisha said they hoped to start vaccinations on Monday, if vaccine stocks arrive.

Modi is scheduled to meet cabinet ministers on Friday as the wave of infections cripples the nation’s health system and threatens to impact major businesses.

World aid has started arriving in India as it struggles to combat what has been described as a humanitarian disaster.