50% of India’s adult population has received first Covid-19 vaccine dose


The Narendra Modi government on Thursday revealed that the country had inoculated 50 per cent of its eligible population with the first dose Covid-19 vaccine.

Confirming the development, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya took to Twitter to state that 5️0 per cent of the eligible population had been inoculated with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Data revealed by the health ministry revealed that the country’s vaccination coverage had crossed 61 crores (61,10,43,573). Nearly 68 lakh vaccine doses were administered on Thursday alone.

The Modi government has been pushing the states to accelerate the pace of Covid-19 vaccination throughout the country.


India COVID vaccinations near record, new cases at five-month low


India has administered more than 8.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the past 24 hours, government data shows, close to its all-time record and speeding up a campaign to inoculate all eligible adults by December.

The surge in inoculations came alongside a sharp decline in daily new infections that fell to 25,166, the lowest since March 16, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

India has undertaken one of the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drives and has so far administered 554 million doses, giving at least one dose to about 46 percent of its estimated 944 million adults.

Vaccinations reduce chance of Covid death in India to 0.4%, says ICMR study


Vaccines targeting Covid-19 are able to curb deaths and hospitalization in patients substantially, including those infected by the highly-transmissible delta variant that drove India’s devastating second wave and is now triggering curbs from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

About 0.4% died among those who got infected after inoculation — called breakthrough infections — while nearly 10% needed hospitalization, according to a new study by researchers led by Indian Council of Medical Research’s Nivedita Gupta. The study, which analyzed genome sequencing data of 677 Covid patients, found 86% of the fully-vaccinated cases were due to the delta variant.

The findings underscore the crucial role of shots in preventing extreme outcomes among Covid-19 sufferers and allays doubts around vaccine efficacy, especially with respect to the Delta variant that has rapidly spread to at least 104 countries.

“This clearly suggests that vaccination reduces severity of disease, hospitalisation and mortality,” said the study. “Therefore, enhancing the vaccination drive and immunising the populations quickly would be the most important strategy to prevent further deadly waves of Covid-19 and would reduce the burden on the healthcare system.”

Delhi clocks 89 Covid cases, lowest in nearly a year; 11 deaths in 24 hours


Delhi recorded 89 new Covid-19 cases and 11 deaths in a span of 24 hours. This is the first time since 16 February, when 94 cases of coronavirus were registered, that the number of daily infections has dropped below 100.

There are 1,996 active Covid-19 cases in the city and the recovery rate is 98.12%.

India to provide free vaccines to all in major policy shift


India’s federal government will provide free coronavirus shots to any adult starting later this month and take back control of the country’s vaccination drive, marred by delays and shortages, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Monday.

The changes reverse a policy launched in April which tasked states and the private sector with vaccinating those between the ages of 18 and 44. The federal government will now procure 75% of all vaccines directly from the manufacturers and provide them to the states for free, while the remaining 25% will be purchased by the private sector.

Under the earlier policy, the federal government gave free shots to people above 45 years of age and front-line workers, leaving states and private hospitals to administer inoculations to those between 18 and 44.

Although most states vaccinated those in this age group for free, they were competing for doses with the private sector. Experts say vaccine makers reaped more profits by selling at a higher price to the private sector, causing many states to scramble for supplies.

Modi’s announcement in a nationally televised speech came as pressure was mounting on his government to speed up vaccinations and ensure equity. Last week, the Supreme Court called the previous vaccination policy “arbitrary and irrational.”

India – COVID Vaccination Is Leading To Fewer Cases, Deaths Among Elderly In Some States


Is India beginning to see a COVID-19 vaccine effect? In three southern states and two major cities for which data are available, the share of the elderly in total deaths has begun to decline after vaccinations began for this demographic, an IndiaSpend analysis of data and interviews with experts show. The decline in share is not necessarily because cases and deaths among younger people have increased.

India began vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers on January 16, 2021; people over the age of 60 (and those over 45 years, with comorbidities) from March 1; people between the ages of 45 and 59 from April 1; and people between the ages of 18 and 44 from May 1. As of 3.30 p.m. on May 12, India has injected 137.3 million people with one dose of either Covishield or Covaxin, and a further 37.8 million people with both doses. Among those aged 60 and above, nearly 39% have received at least one dose of a vaccine and just under 12% have received both doses by May 11.

Vaccination coverage varies substantially by region. Kerala has vaccinated over 54% of its population over the age of 60 with at least one dose, Karnataka 48% and Maharashtra 40%, while Tamil Nadu has the lowest at only 17%.

Both Covishield and Covaxin report a lowered likelihood of contracting mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 and of dying from COVID-19, two weeks after the first dose, and an even lower risk after receiving the second dose.

Since March of this year, the share of people aged 60 and above in Mumbai’s total COVID-19 deaths has steadily declined. By May 2021, the share of people aged 60 and above in total COVID-19 deaths has fallen to its lowest share since July 2020. It isn’t just deaths–the share of the elderly in new detected COVID-19 cases has fallen to its lowest point since May 2020 as well.

A similar pattern is visible in Pune. Since the middle of April, the share of people aged 60 and above in weekly reported COVID-19 deaths has fallen to its lowest point since July and could fall below 50% of deaths within two weeks if this trend continues.

Three southern states–Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka–show the same trend: The share of the elderly in total deaths has consistently fallen since late March. While the data for Tamil Nadu and Kerala are complete, the data for Karnataka are incomplete, but show the same trend.

India – Delhi reports less than 10,000 COVID-19 cases for 1st time in over a month


Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said the national capital has registered less than 10,000 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. “I want to share a good news with you all. In the last 24 hours, Delhi has registered less than 10k Covid-19 cases,” he added.

“The infection rate has decreased now. It is 12% today. On April 22, it had reached 36%. This means, less number of people in Delhi are now falling ill. In the last 10 days, 3,000 hospital beds in Delhi have become vacant,” Kejriwal said.

U.S. to Share AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Doses With World


The Biden administration is making plans to share millions of doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and preparing a major effort to help India fight a resurgence of the virus, as calls mount for the U.S. to do more to assist developing countries in confronting the pandemic.

The White House said Monday it would share as many as 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rest of the world. U.S. officials also said they were exploring options to urgently dispatch oxygen and related supplies to India.

President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India reported 352,991 new coronavirus cases on Monday, marking the fifth consecutive day the country set a global record for a single-day rise in infections.

The Biden administration has faced growing pressure to share vaccine doses with India and other developing countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and are far behind wealthier countries in procuring and administering vaccine doses.

India’s hospitals have been overwhelmed, with beds and oxygen in short supply and crematoriums running out of space as the country recorded a million new cases in just three days. Reports and images of people dying on the pavement waiting for treatment have underscored the severity of the surge.

AstraZeneca declined to comment on whether it was consulted on the decision. “The doses are part of AstraZeneca’s supply commitments to the U.S. government,” a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said in an email. “Decisions to send U.S. supply to other countries are made by the U.S. government.”

A senior Indian official said New Delhi hadn’t specifically requested the supply of unused AstraZeneca doses, but would gladly accept a portion of them if offered.

Better Covid Vaccines Are Coming, WHO’s Chief Scientist Says


New Covid-19 vaccines, including ones that don’t require needles and can be stored at room temperature, may be ready for use later this year or next year, the World Health Organization’s top scientist said.

Six-to-eight new immunizations may complete clinical studies and undergo regulatory review by the end of the year, Soumya Swaminathan, the Geneva-based agency’s chief scientist, said in an interview Saturday.

New vaccines will add to the 10 already shown to work within a year of Covid-19 being declared a pandemic. The world needs more immunizations, especially as the virus’s continuous circulation spawns dangerous new variants and drugmakers struggle to meet orders. Only 122 countries have started immunizing people, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

“We’re thrilled with the vaccines that we have,” said Swaminathan, an Indian pediatrician best known for her research on tuberculosis and HIV. But “we can improve further,” she said. “I think, well into 2022, we’re going to see the emergence of improved vaccines.”

India to kick off one of the world’s largest Covid vaccination drives this weekend


India is gearing up for one of the largest mass vaccination exercises in the world starting Saturday.

The South Asian country plans to inoculate some 300 million people, or more than 20% of its 1.3 billion population, against Covid-19 in the first phase of the exercise.

Indian airlines have started delivering the first doses of vaccines to Delhi and other major cities, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad and tech hub Bengaluru, tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier this week.

Priority for the shots will be given to health-care and other frontline workers — an estimated 30 million people. That would be followed by those above 50 years of age and other younger, high-risk individuals.

The rollout will involve close collaboration between the central government and states.

India has also developed a digital portal called Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. It will provide real-time information on “vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries,” according to the health ministry.

“India’s expertise in vaccine manufacturing and experience with mass immunization campaigns has prepared it well for ‘phase 1’ vaccinations set to begin this weekend,” Akhil Bery, South Asia analyst at Eurasia Group, wrote in a report this week.

“India has a long history of immunization campaigns, including its Universal Immunization Program that inoculates 55 million a year, and will rely on this expertise to distribute coronavirus vaccines,” he added.