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COVID-19: India’s vaccination hit record with free shot

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India’s vaccination hit record with free shot of 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses under a federal campaign to inoculate all adults on Monday, after weeks of criticism that a chaotic rollout had worsened a second wave.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier said, the government would buy 75% of all vaccines from drug makers and distribute those for free to states, which along with private hospitals, had earlier been buying shots for people aged 18-45.

Giridhara Babu, A member of the Indian Council of Medical Research said, “It marks the beginning of the end of adversities related to COVID-19 in the country.”

Millions were vulnerable to infections, particularly in the countryside where two-thirds of the population lives.

The widespread shortages worsened and divide between urban and rural areas, as many younger people in cities turned to private hospitals.

Experts have warned of a potential third wave as only about 5% of all 950 million eligible people are fully inoculated with two doses even as daily infections have fallen this month.

Over the last 24 hours, India reported 53,256 infections, the lowest since March 24. Infections hit a peak of about 400,000 a day in May and deaths soared to around 170,000 in April-May.

India, with an overall case load of 29.9 million, is second-highest globally behind the United States.

The country is using domestically made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and Indian company Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

The Indian government is attempting to secure foreign vaccines such as Pfizer and has waived strict rules to allow quicker imports.

In the western state of Maharashtra, hardest hit by the second wave, authorities said shortages persist and older age groups between 30-45 would be a priority.

READ ALSO: India reports 84,332 new COVID-19 infections

 

Kamila/Reuters

 

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