India, where 87 million doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered so far for a population of 1.3 billion, faces a shortage, according to local media, as the number of infections hit a new daily high.
More than 126,000 new infections were recorded in 24 hours, more than 10 times the figures for February, and around 1.8 million new cases have been recorded since March 1.
This has prompted several regions to tighten activity restrictions, while in western India, Maharashtra, the current epicenter of the epidemic, where the megalopolis Bombay is located, is expected to enter containment this weekend. Tamil Nadu, in the south, was the last state on Thursday to announce new restrictions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who received his second injection on Thursday, tweeted that vaccines were “among the few ways we have to beat the virus” and urged people to follow his lead.
However, according to The Times of India, ten states have stocks of only three or four days, including Uttar Pradesh, where about 200 million people live, as well as Bihar and West Bengal, in the northeast of the country. ‘India.
– Queues in Bombay –
In Maharashtra, the regional health minister warned on Wednesday that stocks could run out in three days. “We have to tell people that since the vaccines have not arrived, they have to go home,” Rajesh Tope said.
Mumbai’s main vaccination centers ran out of doses on Thursday, and the huge Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital completely halted the injections.
At a government-run vaccination center in Dharavi, Mumbai’s largest slum, long lines have formed.
“We are trying to see what we can do to keep some stock for tomorrow,” Afrin Sultana Khan, head of the center, who said she had no idea when the children arrived, told AFP. new doses. “We are very worried,” she added.
A city official in Bangalore, in the southern state of Karnataka, told AFP that the city, awaiting a supply of one million doses which is five days late, will run out of stock. of stock.
A district in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in the southeast, has exhausted all its reserves on Tuesday, according to the Economic Times.
– “Unfounded” criticism –
However, Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said allegations of a shortage in Maharashtra were “completely unfounded” and that many states were trying to “distract from their failures”.
“The vaccine supply is monitored in real time and state governments are regularly informed,” he added.
According to Ajay Ghai, a senior health official in Uttar Pradesh, the supply “is done on an ongoing basis, just like the replenishment. There is no shortage at all.”
The total number of coronavirus cases in India is approaching 13 million and the virus has caused 170,000 deaths, although the infection rate per capita in the world’s second most populous country remains low compared to other nations.
Faced with the surge in contamination, Narendra Modi decided in March to curb exports of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
– Two million doses per day –
In order to increase its capacity and deal with the shortfall generated by these restrictions, the group requested additional funds from the government to the tune of 30 billion rupees (345 million euros).
“The world needs this vaccine and we are prioritizing India right now, but we are still not able to provide (vaccines) for every Indian who needs it,” the CEO of SII, Adar Poonawalla.
SII, which produces more than 2 million doses of Covishield, the Indian name for AstraZeneca’s vaccine in India, is supplying the vaccine to the country at a subsidized price much lower than that of export.