A seven-day rolling average of vaccinations in India showed an alarming decline for the seventh day on Thursday, as the Health Ministry said only 11.66 lakh people got their jabs a day ago, mounting concern about next waves of infections.
At 13.42 lakh, the rolling average number of vaccinations was lowest since March 14 when the second wave of coronavirus infections, which overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system and left thousands dead, was scaling up.
Despite being the hub of vaccine manufacturing in the world, India has been able to fully inoculate less than 3 per cent of its total population as the central government did not place enough orders for shots last year amid a global scramble.
Besides making India one of few countries in the world where vaccinations will not be free for all citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government abruptly passed on most of the burden to states last month.
With the country becoming the only one in the world where the central government is not procuring all the vaccines it needs, states have now suddenly been left trying to outbid each other to secure the shots, in a policy that has been widely criticised.
The decisions have compounded a vaccine shortage that has forced the government to block exports, leaving poor nations who were counting on India-made vaccines hung out to dry.
Criticised by the opposition and the international media, the government last week announced how it planned to source 200 crore doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year, as nearly all states across the country struggle with shortages in stocks.
However, news agency Reuters reported on Thursday that India’s output of COVID-19 shots for August-December is likely to be lower than the government’s public estimate, according to internal projections shared by two sources.
This could delay India’s plans to vaccinate all its adults this year, amid fears the country will face another surge of coronavirus infections in the winter. For months, India has been the hardest hit by the pandemic in the world, as a new variant fuelled a surge of up to more than 4 lakh new infections a day.
The country reported 2.76 lakh new daily infections on Thursday, taking its tally to 2.57 crore, the world’s second highest after the United States, with official deaths at 2,87,122, health ministry data showed.
Only the United States has had a worse single day death count, when it lost 5,444 people on February 12, according to Reuters.