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World India launches effort to inoculate all adults against COVID

07:40  01 may  2021
07:40  01 may  2021 Source:   ap.org

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media captionIndia Covid vaccination: 'Everybody should get jabs as cases are rising'. India expanded its vaccination programme to include all adults over the age of 18 starting 1 May amid a deadly second wave of infections. The country's healthcare system is overwhelmed with more than 200,000 cases and More than 109 million people have received one dose, and over 17 million people have been fully vaccinated after receiving two doses. But experts say India is unlikely to meet its target of covering 250 million people by July, especially as cases continue to surge. India launched its vaccination drive on

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NEW DELHI (AP) — In hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections, India opened vaccinations to all adults Saturday, launching a huge inoculation effort that was sure to tax the limits of the federal government, the country's vaccine factories and the patience of its 1.4 billion people.

A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

The world's largest maker of vaccines was still short of critical supplies — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages that delayed the rollout in several states. And even in places where the shots were in stock, the country’s wide economic disparities made access to the vaccine inconsistent.

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When India launched its Covid -19 vaccination drive in mid-January, the chances The immunisation drive was opened to all adults by the Centre last week and states and private hospitals were Just a day before India is to launch its ambitious drive to inoculate millions of people in the 18-45 age India 's effort to expand vaccination drive from May 1 runs into problems amid second Covid -19 wave.

COVID -19: Don't have vaccines to inoculate those above 18 years, says Delhi govt. Days before India opens COVID -19 vaccination programme for everyone above 18 years of age, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the national capital Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Thursday that a plan had been formulated to vaccinate all adults against coronavirus within the next three

Only a fraction of India’s population will be able to afford the prices charged by private hospitals for the shot, experts said, meaning that states will be saddled with immunizing the 600 million Indian adults younger than 45, while the federal government gives shots to 300 million health care and front-line workers and people older than 45.

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 mourns at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 mourns at a crematorium in Jammu, in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

So far, government vaccines have been free, and private hospitals have been permitted to sell shots at a price capped at 250 rupees, or around $3. That practice will now change: Prices for state governments and private hospitals will be determined by vaccine companies. Some states might not be able to provide vaccines for free since they are paying twice as much as the federal government for the same shot, and prices at private hospitals could rise.

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India kickstarted its vaccination program in January for health care workers and priority groups, hoping to fully inoculate 300 million people by August. The start was sluggish due to logistical issues and vaccine hesitancy among the population – especially toward Covaxin, which was approved for emergency use before the efficacy data of its third phase trial were India recorded 1 million Covid -19 cases over the last three days, pushing the total number of cases in the country to more than 18 million since the pandemic began, according to figures released today by the country’s Health Ministry.

Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S and several times more than its existing program, which targets 26 million infants. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by 270 million A health worker collects a swab sample from a woman to test for COVID -19 in Jammu, India . (AP Photo/Channi Anand). Shots were given to at least 165,714 people on Saturday, Dr. Manohar Agnani, a Health Ministry official, said at an evening briefing. The ministry had said that it was aiming to inoculate 100 people in each

Since state governments and private players compete for shots in the same marketplace, and states pay less for the doses, vaccine makers can reap more profit by selling to the private sector, said Chandrakant Lahariya, a health policy expert. That cost can then be passed on to people receiving the shots, increasing inequity.

A police officer walks across an empty street during a lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A police officer walks across an empty street during a lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

“There is no logic that two different governments should be paying two prices,” he said.

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As India ’s coronavirus situation continues to deteriorate, the White House pledged to “quickly” provide “additional support” to New Delhi on Saturday, but did not offer much detail. In a statement to Reuters, a White House spokeswoman said that the US has been involved in high-level talks with India “When people in India and elsewhere desperately need help, we can't let vaccines sit in a warehouse, we need to get them where they'll save lives,” Krishnamoorthi stated. We need to release our stockpile of unused AstraZeneca vaccines now. In India alone, almost 350,000 COVID -19 cases were reported today.

On 16 January 2021 India started its national vaccination programme against the SARS-CoV-2 virus which has caused the COVID -19 pandemic.

Concerns that pricing issues could deepen inequities are only the most recent hitch in India’s sluggish immunization efforts. Less than 2% of the population has been fully immunized against COVID-19 and around 10% has received a single dose. Immunization rates have also fallen. The average number of shots per day dipped from over 3.6 million in early April to less than 2.5 million right now.

In the worst-hit state of Maharashtra, the health minister promised free vaccines for those ages 18 to 44, but he also acknowledged that the shortage of doses meant immunization would not start as planned on Saturday. States say the paucity of shots is one reason why immunizations have declined.

India thought the worst was over when cases ebbed in September. But mass gatherings such as political rallies and religious events were allowed to continue, and relaxed attitudes on the risks fueled a major humanitarian crisis, according to health experts. New variants of the coronavirus have partly led the surge. Deaths officially surpassed 200,000 this week, and the true death toll is believed to be far higher.

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People wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait for transportation at a bus station during a lockdown in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press People wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait for transportation at a bus station during a lockdown in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

The country's shortage of shots has global implications because, in addition to its own inoculation efforts, India has promised to ship vaccines abroad as part of a United Nations vaccine-sharing program that is dependent on its supply.

A wreath lies on the coffin of a COVID-19 victim before his cremation in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A wreath lies on the coffin of a COVID-19 victim before his cremation in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Indian vaccine makers produce an estimated 70 million doses each month of the two approved shots — the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India and another one made by Bharat Biotech.

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The federal government is buying half of those vaccines to give to states. The remaining half can then be bought by states and private hospitals to be given to anyone over 18, but at prices set by the companies.

A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021.  Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press A family member performs the last rites of a COVID-19 victim at a crematorium in Jammu, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

The federal government is buying shots at 150 rupees each, or $2. The Serum Institute will sell the shots to states at 300 rupees each, or $4, and to private players at 600 rupees each, or $8. Bharat Biotech said it will charge states 400 rupees, or less than $5.50 for a shot, and private players 1,200 rupees, or more than $16.

A COVID-19 patient rests on a bed at a makeshift hospital in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press A COVID-19 patient rests on a bed at a makeshift hospital in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo)

By comparison, the European Union paid $2.15 per dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The company says that price is discounted because the EU contributed to the vaccine's development.

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The strain is mounting on the Serum Institute, which in addition to being India’s main supplier is also a critical supplier of the U.N.-backed initiative known as COVAX, which more than 90 countries are depending on. The institute paused exports in March.

“The urgent demand for vaccines in India is bad for the rest of the world,” said Ravi Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge University.

Health workers install oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients at a makeshift hospital in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press Health workers install oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients at a makeshift hospital in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo)

Some experts warned that conducting a massive inoculation effort now could worsen the surge in a country that is second only to the United States in its number of infections — more than 19.1 million.

“There’s ample evidence that having people wait in a long, crowded, disorderly queue could itself be a source of infection,” said Dr. Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer specializing in infectious diseases at Britain’s University of Exeter. He urged India to first stop the circulation of the virus by imposing “a long, sustained, strictly enforced lockdown.”

Multiple funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims burn as relatives perform last rites at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press Multiple funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims burn as relatives perform last rites at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo)

Pankhania cautioned that immunization efforts alone would not help immediately stem the current spike of COVID-19, since shots “only start to bear fruit in about three months’ time.” Vaccination would help prevent future waves of infection, he said.

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India is also importing shots from the Russian makers of Sputnik V. The first batch was due to arrive Saturday. Another 125 million doses of Sputnik V will be distributed by an Indian pharmaceutical company later this year.

Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 30, 2021. Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. (AP Photo)

Given the urgent need for vaccines, some experts said rationing available doses is critical.

“Vaccines need to be delivered to the areas with the most intense transmission,” Gupta said, explaining that vaccines should be used as “emergency control measures” in specific regions of India rather than offering doses to all adults across the subcontinent.

Pankhania said the widely seen images of Indian virus patients gasping for air and smoke billowing from makeshift funeral pyres should spur rich countries to share their vaccines more freely. He criticized the approach taken by many Western countries that are attempting to vaccinate all citizens, including younger people at low risk, before sharing any doses.

“It is better globally to immunize all the (vulnerable) people that need to be protected rather than to immunize entire populations in only some countries,” Pankhania said.

___

Cheng reported from London. Associated Press writers Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Krutika Pathi in New Delhi contributed to this report.

NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 7, 2021 .
Players in the COVID protocol are: Colorado's Devan Dubnyk and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov.Anaheim – TBA

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