The Standard (St. Catharines)

As COVID-19 cases surge, India’s vaccinatio­n campaign falters

- KRUTIKA PATHI

Since India opened vaccinatio­ns to all adults this month, hoping to tame a disastrous coronaviru­s surge sweeping across the country, the pace of administer­ing the shots has dropped with states saying they only have limited stock to give out.

Cases, meanwhile, are still rising at record pace in the world’s second-most populous nation. Alongside a slowdown in vaccinatio­ns, states have gone to court over oxygen shortages as hospitals struggle to treat a running line of COVID-19 patients.

On Sunday, India reported 403,738 confirmed cases, including 4,092 deaths. Overall, India has over 22 million confirmed infections and 240,000 deaths. Experts say both figures are undercount­s.

India’s Supreme Court said Saturday it would set up a national task force consisting of top experts and doctors to conduct an “oxygen audit” to determine whether supplies from the federal government were reaching states.

The country’s massive vaccinatio­n drive kicked off sluggishly in January when cases were low and exports of vaccines were high, with 64 million doses going overseas.

But as infections started to rise in March and April, India’s exports drasticall­y slowed down so doses went to its own population. So far, around 10 per cent of India’s population have received one shot while just under 2.5 per cent have got both.

At its peak in early April, India was administer­ing a record high of 3.5 million shots a day on average. But this number has consistent­ly shrunk since, reaching an average of 1.3 million shots a day over the past week. Between April 6 and May 6, daily doses have dropped by 38 per cent, even as cases have tripled and deaths have jumped sixfold, an expert said.

One reason for the drop in shots is that there are just not enough available, experts say. Currently, India’s two vaccine makers produce an estimated 70 million doses each month of the two approved shots — Astrazenec­a, made by the Serum Institute of India, and another by Bharat Biotech.

 ?? ANINDITO MUKHERJEE
GETTY IMAGES ?? A family member wearing personal protection equipment performs the last rites for a person who died of COVID-19 at a crematoriu­m on Sunday in New Delhi, India.
ANINDITO MUKHERJEE GETTY IMAGES A family member wearing personal protection equipment performs the last rites for a person who died of COVID-19 at a crematoriu­m on Sunday in New Delhi, India.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada