Multiple Indian states ran out of coronavirus vaccines on Friday. A day before the country was scheduled to extend its nationwide vaccination campaign, officials said, as new infections in the pandemic-stricken country surpassed another daily high.
According to health ministry numbers, India recorded 386,452 new cases in the last 24 hours, while COVID-19 deaths increased by 3,498.
On the other hand, medical experts claim that real COVID-19 numbers could be five to ten times higher than the official tally.
According to a Reuters tally, India had added approximately 7.7 million cases since the end of February, when the second wave began to gain momentum. In comparison, India added the previous 7.7 million cases in less than six months.
The world’s second-largest economy is in shambles, with hospitals and morgues devastated by the pandemic, drugs and oxygen in short supply, and tight travel restrictions in the country’s largest cities.
India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. Still, its stockpiles are insufficient to combat the second deadly COVID-19 wave, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government’s pledge to vaccinate all adults beginning May 1.
Since January, only about 9% of India’s 1.4 billion population have received a vaccine dose.
“I registered 28 days ago for a slot, but they are now claiming there are no vaccinations,” Twitter user Jasmin Oza said in a video update.
India originally intended to vaccinate only 300 million of its most vulnerable citizens by August but increased the deadline to increase cases.
However, AstraZeneca’s two vaccine producers were still struggling to expand production beyond 80 million doses per month due to a shortage of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute in India, which produces the company’s vaccine.
Mumbai’s vaccination centers will be closed for three days beginning Friday due to a vaccine shortage, authorities said.
In the southern state of Karnataka, which is home to Bengaluru’s technology hub, the state’s health minister announced that the state’s adult vaccination drive would not begin on May 1.
“The state government has received no indication from manufacturers about when they will be able to supply these vaccines,” Health Minister K Sudhakar said.
The world sends medical assistance.
Gujarat, Modi’s home state, officials have stated that vaccinations for the 18-45 age group would begin in a fortnight, as the state anticipates receiving vaccines by then.
“Vaccination of those over the age of 18 will begin once vaccine supplies are replenished. We are working tirelessly to procure vaccines and am confident that vaccinations will begin within the next 15 days,” state Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said. Officials in Odisha’s eastern state said they hoped to begin vaccinations on Monday, pending the arrival of vaccine stocks.
Modi is expected to meet with cabinet ministers on Friday as the nation’s health system suffers from a wave of infections that threatens to cripple major businesses. Absenteeism in offices and industries increases as employees become ill or take leave to care for sick relatives.
World assistance has begun to arrive in India, battling what has been described as a humanitarian catastrophe.
On Friday, the first US flight carrying oxygen cylinders, regulators, rapid diagnostic kits, N95 masks, and pulse oximeters landed in Delhi, India’s capital.
“Just as India rushed to our help early in the pandemic, the US is committed to assisting India urgently in its time of need,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted.
“Today, we are proud to send our first shipment of life-saving oxygen supplies, therapeutics, and vaccine raw materials.”
The US will have over $100 million in medical assistance, including 1,000 oxygen tanks, 15 million N95 masks, and 1 million quick diagnostic tests. Additionally, it has diverted its own AstraZeneca supply order to India, allowing it to manufacture more than 20 million doses.