India’s corona story is turning grimmer with each passing hour as the nation recorded over two lakh new Covid-19 infection for the second consecutive day today. The health ministry’s April 16 bulletin says that 2,17,353 citizens were infected with the novel coronavirus. This was an increase of roughly 17,000 fresh cases in comparison with Thursday’s figures.
Another troubling trend is the uptick in the number of Covid deaths. As of April 16, 1,185 people lost their lives due to the Covid-19 in the last 24 hours. With the double-digit positivity rate, India is recording the biggest spike in the new corona cases in the world in recent times. Only the US has seen such a sharp increase in the daily caseload.
After gifting and selling tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad, India suddenly finds itself short of shots as new infections surge in the world’s second-most populous country.
Facing soaring cases and overflowing hospitals after lockdown restrictions were eased, it also abruptly changed the rules to allow it to fast-track vaccine imports, having earlier rebuffed foreign drugmakers like Pfizer.
It will import Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine starting this month to cover as many as 125 million people.
The reversal in fortunes could hamper not only India’s battle to contain the pandemic, but also vaccination campaigns in more than 60 poorer countries, mainly in Africa, for months.
The COVAX programme, backed by the World Health Organization and Gavi vaccine alliance, aims at equitable vaccine access around the world, and is relying heavily on supplies from India, Asia’s pharmaceutical powerhouse.
But so far this month India has only exported around 1.2 million vaccine doses. That compares with 64 million doses shipped abroad between late January and March, according to data from the foreign ministry.