Home to the world’s largest vaccine-manufacturing industry, India is still lagging behind other large countries in vaccinations.
Just 29% of the country has received a single dose of the vaccine, and only 15% are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to Our World in Data.
In April and May, as the Delta variant took hold in India, the country saw a spike in cases that dwarfed its first big COVID wave last September and stressed the country’s already overstretched health care infrastructure.
At one point, the South Asian country was responsible for more than half of the world’s COVID cases.
Now, cases are once again dropping in the country even as the government has struggled to fully vaccinate even a fifth of the population.
After the first surge in cases last September, it seemed as if the country had contained COVID. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even declared victory against COVID in a virtual gathering of the World Economic Forum in January.
The country’s largest vaccine manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, struggled earlier this year to increase supply of COVID vaccines to meet the huge demand. After five months, the Indian government lifted a ban on COVID vaccine exports, which had hobbled supply for Covax, the United Nation’s vaccine sharing program.
India said it will resume exports in the October quarter and prioritize deals with neighboring countries and Covax. India’s Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the country’s vaccine production could exceed 1 billion doses in the last three months of the year.
Reuters reported Tuesday that the country would not buy vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, opting to instead rely on the licensed version of AstraZeneca’s shot, Covishield, and locally filled doses of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine among others.
By December, the country is aiming to vaccinate all of its 944 million adults, but at the current pace, the goal may be difficult to meet for the world’s second most populous nation.
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