Corona cases cross 30m in South Asia

30 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Corona cases cross 30m in South Asia

Police stand at a traffic intersection wearing headgear themed on coronavirus urging people to adopt safety protocols during an awareness drive in Hyderabad on Thursday. —AFP PHOTO

BENGALURU: Coronavirus infections in the South Asia region surpassed 30 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally of official data, led by India which is struggling with a second COVID-19 wave and a vaccine shortage across the region, reports Reuters.

India, the second most-populous country in the world, this month recorded its highest COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic began last year, accounting for just over a third of the overall total.

The South Asia region - India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka - accounts for 18% of global cases and almost 10% of deaths. But there is growing suspicion that official tallies of infections and deaths are not reflecting the true extent of the problem.

This month, India opened its coronavirus vaccination campaign to everyone aged 18 or older. However, it has not been able to meet vaccine demand despite being one of the biggest vaccine producers in the world.

India has been inoculating its people with the AstraZeneca vaccine produced locally at the Serum Institute of India (SII), Covaxin made by local firm Bharat Biotech and has begun rolling out Russia’s Sputnik V.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced mounting criticism for the failure to secure vaccines as only about 3% of India’s 1.3 billion population has been fully vaccinated, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the most cases.

To meet domestic demand, India temporarily halted vaccine exports in March after donating or selling more than 66 million doses. The halt has left countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and many in Africa scrambling for alternate supplies.

However, India is still facing a vaccine shortage and several of its state governments, and even cities such as Mumbai, have launched global tenders or sought expressions of interest from firms such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson for urgent supplies. India’s official tally of daily coronavirus infections has been falling in the past few days, offering hope that its second wave is ebbing.


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