India’s inoculation drive now second largest in world
With 1.26 million doses of vaccines administered on average every day in the last week, India’s inoculation drive is now the world’s second largest – both in terms of daily doses being administered as well as total jabs administered – and is now behind only the US, which is administering 2.5 million doses a day. These statistics highlight how India’s inoculation drive has been picking up pace in the recent days.
The development, however, comes at a time when new infections have been rising for the past few weeks, with daily cases crossing the 26,000 mark on Sunday, the first time since December 19, or in 85 days, sparking fears of the start of a new wave of Covid-19 infections. India on Sunday reported 26,360 new Covid cases, taking the country’s total cases to 11,385,170, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard.
In total, India has administered 29.74 million doses, with 24.31 million people receiving at least one dose as of Saturday night, placing it at the second spot in the world, ahead of the UK, which has administered 25.87 million doses to 24.19 million people as of Saturday, according to data issued by the respective governments.
The US, which has administered 101.13 million doses as of Saturday, with 68.88 million people receiving at least one shot, however, is the runaway leader in the world in terms of vaccinations. Brazil is a distant fourth with 11.36 million doses administered till Saturday. India has administered more doses than all of South America (21.42 million doses), according to vaccination data compiled by website Our World in Data.
In the past week, 1,259,438 shots have been administered every day in India on average – also the second highest in the world. Much of this increase has come in the past few weeks — India’s daily dose rate has tripled in the last 20 days (it was 415,332 shots a day for week ending February 22). It is only behind the US, which has administered 2,541,597 doses a day in the last seven days. On the distant third spot, the UK has been administering 349,372 shots a day last week. The vaccination process, however, needs to be scaled up in India quickly to break the transmission cycle, experts say. “Although it is heartening to see an increase in pace, It is sort of an underaccomplishment to go at this rate as India has the capacity to cover 7 to 10 million per day,” Dr Giridhara R Babu, head, epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health, told HT on Saturday.
To be sure, due to the opaque nature of China’s data sharing on Covid-19 over the past year, numbers from Beijing have been excluded from global calculations, even though the country says it has administered 52.52 million doses as on February 28.
NEW WAVES INCOMING, INDIA AND ABROAD
However, despite the rising vaccination, several nations including India are again trying to grapple with the start of a new wave of infections, which is threatening to thwart inoculation efforts.
Daily infections in India have been growing at an alarming rate again – from Wednesday (March 10) onwards, the country has set four consecutive records for the most single-day infections in 2021. The country has reported 21,168 new cases a day in the past week – the highest since December 27. While this is nowhere close to the peak the country has seen (over 96,000 average cases a day in mid-September), the worrying trend is that it is rising — the case rate dropped to 10,988 for the week ending February 11.
This trend isn’t limited to India alone – six out of the 10 countries in the world with the most Covid-19 cases are currently seeing new waves. These are Brazil (the world’s biggest hot spot with 71,419 new cases a day on average in the past week), France (23,273 new cases a day in the last week), Italy (22,160 new cases a day), Turkey (13,826), and Germany (9,675). The US, the world’s worst-hit country so far, is currently seeing 55,356 new cases a day, but the trendline is currently declining, which many experts have said is the first glimpse of the country’s immense vaccination drive paying dividends.
In Europe, many countries have either kicked off fresh lockdowns or are on the verge it.
In Italy, locals on Monday rushed to parks, shopping centres and to get haircuts before a majority of the country goes into lockdown on Monday to try to curb a surge in cases. Italian PM Mario Draghi backed the lockdown because infections are at three-month highs and the country’s vaccine programme has faced a spotty roll-out. Italy has suffered more than 100,000 deaths, the most in Europe after the UK.
Officials in France said the Paris region may be headed toward a new lockdown as a third wave of infections has started to fill up ICUs and low vaccine supplies have dragged down inoculation efforts.
(With agency inputs)