| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Indian states seek widening of vaccinations as second surge overtakes first wave

Following a second wave of infections that has outstripped the first, several Indian state leaders have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend vaccines to the majority of the country’s hundreds of millions of adults.

On Monday, India broke the grim barrier of 100,000 daily infections for the first time, and the number of cases is expected to remain high when new figures are published later on Tuesday.

The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer extended its vaccination program this month to include anyone over the age of 45. Just about 1 in 25 citizens have been vaccinated so far, compared to nearly 1 in 2 in the United Kingdom and 1 in 3 in the United States.

In a letter to Modi late Monday, Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of India’s worst-affected Maharashtra state, wrote, “If a greater number of young and working population is vaccinated, the severity of the cases will be much lower than the care that they require today.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and many other states have also asked for faster and wider vaccinations, with some flagging tightness in vaccine supplies even for the prioritized groups.

The federal government has said it will widen the vaccination campaign in the “near future” to include more people, and that vaccine supplies are being stepped up.

With 12.6 million cases, India is the worst affected country after the United States and Brazil. Deaths have gone past the 165,000 mark.

The country’s daily infections have risen many fold since hitting a multi-month low in early February, when authorities eased most restrictions and people largely stopped wearing masks and following social distancing.

India has recorded the most number of infections in the past week anywhere in the world. More infectious variants of the virus may have played a role in the second surge, some epidemiologists say.


  • Reuters