— Health

India expands coronavirus vaccine drive as daily tally exceeds 400,000

India’s devastating COVID-19 surge further accelerated on Saturday, with more than 400,000 new cases in 24 hours, as vaccinations opened to all adults despite shortages of shots.

Two months ago, the health minister said India was in the “end game” of the pandemic as it sent millions of vaccines abroad, but, exports have stopped, and people are desperate to be inoculated.

Around 100 people formed outside one Delhi hospital on Saturday – one of very few offering shots to those under 45 years old.

“There are so many people that are getting sick… so we just wanted to be here as soon as possible,” one of those waiting, Aadya Mehta, 25, told AFP.

Until now, only “frontline” workers like medical staff, people over 45, and those with pre-existing illnesses have been given the AstraZeneca or Covaxin shots.

coronavirus vaccine

But even this more modest program has stumbled, with some areas running out of jabs and others throwing them away because of lack of demand, in part because some people are scared to leave home during this recent surge.

So far, around 150 million shots have been administered, equating to 11.5 percent of the population of 1.3 billion people. Just 25 million have had two doses.

‘Confusion reigns’

With the rollout expansion to all adults, around 600 million more people are now eligible to get vaccinated, but many states said they have insufficient stocks.

Millions of younger people are terrified by the current situation and desperate to get inoculated registered on the government’s digital platform.

But very few of them have been given appointments, and only half a dozen of India’s 28 states began vaccinating people under 45 and only a token scale in many cases.

“Half my family is positive, so everybody wanted us to get vaccinated,” data scientist Megha Srivastava, 35, told AFP outside the Max clinic, one of three private hospitals in the Indian capital vaccinating younger people.

“It won’t completely protect us, but it will ensure that even if we get infected, we’ll recover,” she said.

28 April: Red Cross helps India face COVID-19 crisis

Further confusion has been created by the government’s decision to ask states and private hospitals to order vaccine supplies independently.

“We have contacted Serum Institute of India that has said they will be able to provide doses only after six months,” DS Rana, chair of the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, told the Hindustan Times daily.

A doctor at one government hospital said there was “no issue with supply” and was vaccinating almost 300 people a day. But it did not have government permission to jab under 45s, she told AFP.

In Kolkata, Rupak Barua, president of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India (AHEI), told AFP that “confusion reigns”.

“Private hospitals have had to return all their vaccines stock to the government,” he said.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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