India has reported a national record of 4,529 new deaths, pushing the country’s death toll past 283,000.
The South Asian nation has been reporting over 4,000 COVID-19 fatalities daily for over a week now.
While new infections have slightly dropped, the situation remains dire. India confirmed 267,334 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, below the 300,000-mark for the third consecutive day.
The caseload is now at least 25,496,330 according to India’s Health Ministry.
Though the official count shows new infections subsiding, there are fears that the new, highly infectious B.1.617 variant, first found in India, is running out of control and many cases, particularly in rural areas, are going unreported due to lack of testing.
Amid the covid-19 crisis, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has said that it hopes to start delivering coronavirus vaccine doses to COVAX and to other countries by the end of the year.
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“We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritize India. We also hope to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.
The delay will significantly set back global efforts to immunize people against COVID-19 especially in developing countries.
In March, Covax, the global vaccine-sharing initiative, confirmed its plans to allocate the AstraZeneca vaccine to African countries, which make up 40 of the 64 low-income countries being supported by the initiative. Using population size as a guide, Covax’s first allocation round divided up 64.5 million doses of the vaccine to be distributed to African nations all to be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Lower-income countries which have already depleted their first consignments of AstraZeneca doses will have to consider other options, as India battles the crisis.
Besides COVID-19, India is also confronting the aftermath of a cyclone that hit the Western state of Gujarat on Monday.
Officials say the storm has claimed at least 33 lives with about 100 people still missing. The storm complicated efforts to tackle the coronavirus in the state as vaccinations were suspended for two days, while hospitals awaited backup generators to keep power running and additional oxygen supplies.