India Covid-19 cases increase, vaccination accelerates

A beneficiary is vaccinated by a health team during a vaccination campaign for Pan India Covid-19 at Aundh district hospital on 16 January 2021 in Pune, India.

Pratham Gokhale | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

India reported more than 100,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a 24-hour period for the third time this week, while the most populous country in South Asia is moving forward with its vaccination campaign.

There were 126,789 new cases registered on Thursday, according to government data. More than 80% of the cases occurred in ten states, including the hard-hit state of Maharashtra, where India’s financial capital, Mumbai, is located.

Since the beginning of April, India has recorded more than 779,000 cases, with Maharashtra accounting for just over half of them.

Local authorities in Maharashtra have tightened restrictions, including night curfews, where only essential services can remain open. Other states are also increasing restrictions on a preventive basis, as concerns about a possible shortage of hospital beds and doctors increase.

Lack of vaccine

India’s mass vaccination campaign, which began in January, has accelerated in recent weeks. Beginning in April, anyone over the age of 45 is eligible for their photos. Government data showed as of Thursday, more than 90 million doses of vaccine have been administered.

But media reports this week said that several states, including Maharashtra, have warned that they are running out of vaccine supplies at a crucial time, where cases are rising rapidly.

In response, the Indian government has accused some states, including Maharashtra, of diverting attention from its failure to control the outbreak of the virus.

“Vaccine supplies are being monitored in real time and state governments are being regularly informed about this,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement on Wednesday. “Allegations of vaccine shortages are totally unfounded.”

Proper distribution required

India is making enough vaccines a month to inoculate people over 45, according to Randeep Guleria, director of the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences and a member of the Indian government’s Covid-19 task force.

“These vaccines are being manufactured and have enough monthly stock. It is an issue that they have to be distributed regularly to all areas and as states start to distribute, they have to ensure that there is an equitable distribution according to demand, “Guleria said Thursday in” Street Signs Asia “from CNBC.

“In terms of real numbers, if you do (math), the shortage is not there, it is the distribution that has to be done properly,” he said.

Guleria added that the situation in Maharashtra, as well as in some other states, is such that some areas have a high absorption of vaccines and in others, there is hesitation and stock of vaccines.

Serum Institute’s ‘stressed’ production capacity

But the Serum Institute of India, which is making one of the country’s two approved vaccines – the AstraZeneca injection, known locally as Covishield – has a different view of things.

The head of the Serum Institute, Adar Poonawalla, told Indian media that the company’s production capacity is “very stressed”. He said the vaccine manufacturer needs about $ 400 million to increase capacity by June.

He revealed to Business Standard that AstraZeneca sent a legal notice to the Serum Institute for delay in the supply of vaccines abroad. In February, Poonawalla said his company had been guided to prioritize India’s vaccine needs and asked foreign governments to be patient.

Guleria said that other vaccine manufacturers are being used to contribute and increase production. He added that India may soon approve a third vaccine – the Russian Sputnik V, which will be produced by pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.