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Indian states report vaccine shortages amid record rise of COVID | News about the pandemic coronavirus


New Delhi, India As India continues to reel in a second – and more dangerous – wave of coronaviruses – with an average of more than 90,000 reported cases since April 1, vaccine shortages have added to the crisis.

From less than 15,000 cases per day in early March, India on Friday reported an all-time high of 131,968 new COVID-19 cases – a record increase for the third consecutive day – pushing the total number of cases. infection of this country to more than 13 million.

Daily infections crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time on Monday and has now crossed it four times this week, marking the largest daily increase in the world’s third most heavily affected country after the United States and Brazil.

Amid record increases, many Indian states have already announced vaccines, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government continues to assert there is enough supply. India is the largest producer of vaccines and is dubbed the “drugstore of the world”.

A health worker prepares to get COVID-19 when another is comforting an elderly woman at a medical center in Bahakajari village, northeastern Assam state. [File: Anupam Nath/AP]

India started its vaccination program in January but could only give 90 million shots to a population of more than 1.3 billion people, most of which is the first dose of a two-dose regimen.

The country is currently in its third vaccination stage, where people over 45 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘They should go home’

The western state of Maharashtra, the current epicenter of the pandemic in India and home to the financial capital Mumbai, issued a severe warning on Wednesday, saying supplies would be depleted in three days if no additions.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said: “We have to tell everyone that since the vaccine supply hasn’t arrived yet, they should go home.

Immunization centers across India’s richest state have run out of doses, and health workers have turned down those wanting to be vaccinated, Indian media reports say.

However, federal Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said many states are trying to “distract attention from their failures and instill panic among the population”, calling for the shortage allegation in Maharashtra is “completely baseless”.

Villagers waiting to receive a dose of COVISHIELD vaccine at a health care center in the village of Limb, Satara district, western Maharashtra state [File: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

But Maharashtra is not the only state to report vaccine shortages. According to the Times of India report, 10 states have reserves lasting only 3 or 4 days, including Uttar Pradesh, home to about 200 million people, as well as Odisha, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

“We have barely any stock for a day and a half and if we don’t get any supply the day after tomorrow. [Friday], we will [have to] Pradipta Mohapatra, supplementary secretary for Odisha’s home welfare and health care division, said.

Mohapatra told Al Jazeera over the phone that Odisha, home to nearly 44 million people, vaccinated 272,000 people a day but had to “resign because there was no vaccine”.

“Yesterday we vaccinated only 110,000 people [Wednesday] while 700 immunization centers were closed for the day, ”he said, adding that half of the state’s immunization centers are now closed.

Health Minister Tribhuvaneshwar Saran Singh Deo of neighboring Chhattisgarh told Al Jazeera that his state was nearly out of vaccines earlier this week and doses should be rushed. But he added that the supply would last only three days.

“We should respond first and tell the country that the supply is limited and that vaccination will continue to follow the supply of the vaccine and we are working to increase production,” he said.

“This is what should be stated rather than saying there is no vaccine.”

Jharkhand Banna Gupta’s Health Minister, Jharkhand Banna Gupta, also said on Thursday that the state is short on the COVID-19 vaccine and that only a stockpile is left that could last one to two days.

Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, the officer in charge of the COVID-19 node in the western state of Punjab, said they have 400,000 doses of the vaccine, enough to provide three to four days.

Bhaskar said the regional government had asked the center to send more vaccines and was assured of a sufficient number of doses.

“Right now, we’re fine for the next three to four days,” said Bhaskar. “If we don’t get supplies early, we might get to that point [stopping the vaccination drive] But for now we don’t have to stop vaccination anywhere. ”

The southeastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have also complained about a shortage of vaccines.

‘Why is there no strategy?’

Amid fears of growing shortages, Prime Minister Modi on Thursday turned down calls from states to offer vaccinations for young people, while Health Minister Vardhan said India There are more than 43 million doses of vaccine in stock or in use.

“It’s not that you can set up these large vaccine factories overnight,” Modi said in a televised address to state ministers. “Whatever product we have, we have to take priority.”

Modi on Thursday received a second dose of coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in New Delhi. [India’s Press Information Bureau/Handout via Reuters]

“In our cities, a very large segment is the poor or the elderly … We should get them vaccinated and prioritize them,” Modi added.

Modi proposed a “Tika Utsav” (Immunization Day) from April 11 to 14 to “vaccinate as many qualified people as possible and target no wastage of vaccines”.

But opposition parties have blamed Modi’s government for exporting 64.5 million doses of the vaccine while the government supplies only a small fraction of India’s 1.35 billion population.

“Why have no strategies or plans been incorporated into the logistics of the vaccine program?” Congress’s main opposition party said on Twitter. “Why is there both so much waste and a serious shortage of vaccines?”

BJP spokesman Syed Zafar Islam, who did not name opposition parties, said that people “should not play politics with vaccines”.

“All I can say is that there is absolutely no vaccine problem. It’s a lot, it’s available and has been repeatedly clarified by the relevant ministry and government that it’s available, ”he said.

But Manish Tewari, a National Assembly leader and member of the National Assembly of India, disagrees.

“It is clear that countries are expressing concern because there is a shortage [of vaccines]. Nobody in his right mindset in the midst of a pandemic would point to a shortage if it didn’t exist. Obviously due to the lack of existence, that’s why it was shown, ”he told Al Jazeera.

Tewari says the government should suspend vaccine diplomacy and transplanted to all Indians, regardless of age.

“[…] This vaccines diplomacy they [Modi government] made 5.76 crore [more than 57 million] vaccine doses they have exported to 71 countries … that process has to be halted and all supplies need to be diverted and every Indian regardless of age should be vaccinated as quickly as possible. to minimize the impact of the second wave, ”he said.



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