India and its states seek to fill COVID-19 vaccine gaps

Russia's COVID vaccine on assembly line
Russia's COVID vaccine on assembly line

International Monetary Fund, Sergey Ponomarev / Flickr cc

Amid a continued surge in cases and deaths, India's government and individual states are pursuing ways to boost vaccine supplies and make the most of the doses the country currently has.

India projects 2 billion doses by end of year

India, the world's second most populous country, has administered 176 million doses, with only 2.8% of the population fully vaccinated. Though global health officials have said vaccination isn't a tool to quickly drive cases down, it is part of a key middle- and longer-range strategy for bringing it to an end.

Demand for vaccine amid the country's massive outbreak has led to shortages, with some states having to postpone immunization campaigns or modify groups eligible to receive it, targeting doses to higher-risk groups.

Today, a government panel recommended increasing the interval between the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as a way to deliver more protection to more people with the first dose, according to the New York Times.

In a related development, a government advisor said today that India will likely have more than 2 billion doses between August and December, including 750 million AstraZeneca doses made by India's Serum Institute and 550 million doses of Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, some of India's states are launching their own efforts to secure more vaccine. For example, Uttar Pradesh, the state with the biggest population, said it has held talks with Pfizer and the local maker of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, according to a separate Reuters report. And Punjab state has opted to join COVAX, a program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, after the federal government failed to secure enough doses, according to CNN.

More global headlines

  • Though cases are climbing in India's rural areas, illnesses and positive testing rates are falling in the country's Delhi territory—a hot spot in the second surge, according to CNN. India today reported 362,727 cases and 4,120 deaths.

  • Taiwan, among the locations in Asia reporting rising cases, today reported 13 new local cases, according to Reuters. Yesterday, it reported 16 cases, a daily record high.

  • About a quarter (27%) of adults surveyed in Europe said they are unlikely to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the survey group Eurofound reported today. Vaccine hesitancy was highest in Bulgaria and lowest in Denmark, Malta, and Ireland. Researchers also found a strong association between vaccine hesitancy and social media use.

  • Thailand reported a record daily high of nearly 5,000 new cases, led by outbreaks at two Bangkok prisons.

  • The global total today topped 160 million cases, rising to 160,658,300, along with 3,335,757 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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