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India is spinning against the backdrop of a virus wave that is affecting the global supply of vaccines

NEW DELHI (AP) – Ventilators in the Indian city of Pune are running out as patients with coronavirus evacuate hospitals. Social media is full of people looking for beds, while relatives are looking for many pharmacies for antiviral drugs that hospitals have long since consumed.

The growth, which can be seen throughout India, is particularly alarming as the country is a major producer of vaccines and a key supplier of the UN-sponsored COVAX initiative. The program aims to film the poorest countries in the world. An increase in cases has already forced India to focus on meeting its domestic demand, delaying deliveries to COVAX ուր elsewhere, including the United Kingdom and Canada.

India’s decision “means that COVAX’s very little is left for everyone,” said Brook Baker, a vaccine expert at North East University.

Pune is India’s worst-hit city, but other major capitals are also in crisis as new infections hit record highs every day, with experts saying misconceptions about the epidemic “coming to an end” are coming back to haunt the country.

When infections began to plummet in India in September, many concluded that the worst was over. The masks և social distance were abandoned, while the government gave mixed signals about the level of risk. When things started to pick up again in February, the authorities were in turmoil.

“No one has a long-term view of the epidemic,” said Dr. Vineta Ball, who studies immune systems at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. He noted, for example, that instead of strengthening existing hospitals, temporary facilities have been set up. Authorities in Pune are reviving one of the temporary facilities, which was crucial in fighting the city last year.

India is not alone. In Europe, many declining countries are experiencing new waves, with infection rates rising in each global region, in part due to new versions of the virus.

India averaged more than 130,000 cases a day last week. Now that the epidemic has begun, it has reported 13.5 million cases of the virus, making its way to Brazil, making it the only country after the United States, although both countries have much smaller populations. Deaths are also rising to over 170,000. According to experts, even these figures are probably low.

Almost all states are showing an increase in infections. Եւ Pune, home to 4 million people, was left with only 28 unused air conditioners on Monday night for more than 110,000 COVID-19 patients.

The country now faces the daunting challenge of vaccinating millions of people, while at the same time reversing tens of thousands of daily infections from the collapse of the health care system.

Dilnaz Boga has been in hospitals in recent months, visiting sick relatives and witnessing shifts as cases began to escalate. The beds were suddenly inaccessible. The nurses warned the visitors to be careful. Posters recommending a proper mask are everywhere.

And then, earlier this month, Boga and his 80-year-old mother gave a positive result. Doctors suggested that his mother be hospitalized, but there were no beds at first. Both he and his mother are now recovering.

The complex fear of an increase in cases is the fact that the country’s vaccines can also cause concern. A number of Indian states have reported doses of doses, even after the federal government insisted the shares were sufficient.

After a slow start, India recently surpassed the United States in the number of daily strikes, now averaging 3.6 million. But with more than four times the number of people who start later, it has given at least one dose to only 7% of its population.

The western Indian state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, the financial capital of Punjab, has reported almost half of the country’s new infections over the past week. Some vaccine centers in the state have pushed people back due to shortages.

At least half a dozen Indian states have reported similarly low reserves, but Health Minister Harsh Vartan called the concerns “a tragic attempt by some state governments to divert attention from their failures”.

Concerns over the supply of vaccines have drawn criticism from the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has exported 64.5 million doses to other countries. Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the main opposition Congress party, wrote a letter to Modi asking if the government’s export strategy was “an attempt to gain publicity at the expense of our citizens.”

Now India has experienced a setback. Last month, COVAX announced that shipments of up to 90 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines had been delayed as the Indian Serum Institute decided to prioritize domestic needs.

The institute, based in Pune, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, told the Associated Press earlier this month that it could resume vaccine exports by June if new coronavirus infections subside. But a continuous wave can lead to more delays.

And experts warn that India may see just that.

They believe that the most probable reason for the spread of the wave is the presence of more contagious variants. Health officials confirmed last month that 80% of infections in the northern state of Punjab were caused by the virus, which was first detected in the United Kingdom. There is growing concern about another new, potentially disturbing option first discovered in India.

India needs to be vaccinated faster և increase measures to stop the spread of the virus, says Krishna Udayakumar, Founding Director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Drish University. “The coming months in India are extremely dangerous,” he said.

However, some say the government’s confused messages failed to convey the risk.

Modi noted that people need to wear masks because of the “alarming” increase in infections. But in the last few weeks, during the campaign, he has spoken to tens of thousands of disguised supporters. ”

The federal government has also allowed huge gatherings to take place during Indian festivals, such as the Kumbh Mela or Pitcher Festival, which is celebrated in the Himalayan city of Haridwar, where millions of devotees dive daily into the Ganges. In response to fears that it could turn into an “over-distribution” event, the country’s chief minister, Tirat Singh Rawat, said that “faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”

“Optics are so powerful, we’re making a mess of them,” said Dr. Shahid Amee Amil, a virus researcher at Ashoka University in India.

Dozens of cities have applied partial restrictions, night curfews in an effort to curb infections, but Modi has ruled out another nationwide blockade. He rejected calls from states to offer vaccinations to younger people.

Experts, meanwhile, say the current limit on the number of vaccines available for people over the age of 45 should be eased, and that staff should focus on areas that are experiencing a surge.

“The burden of COVID-19 is felt unequally,” Udayakumar said. “And the response must be tailored to local needs.”


Associated Press reporters Mumbai’s Rafik McBulle Չ Maria Cheng of London contributed to this report.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.



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