India’s Serum Institute will increase production of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines by nearly 40 percent in June, officials said on Monday, in the first step towards alleviating a shortage that has worsened the country’s battle with coronavirus.
The world’s second most-populous nation has struggled with a catastrophic outbreak of COVID-19 since last month which is only now starting to abate after killing tens of thousands of people.
Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.
Government officials and experts say the only way India can avoid a third wave of infections is by having most of its 1.3 billion population inoculated.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
The Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest manufacturer of vaccines, will make 90 million doses of AstraZeneca in June from about 65 million a month now, a company spokesman told Reuters.
Most of the shots administered in India are AstraZeneca, but local firm Bharat Biotech also plans to ramp up production of its Covaxin vaccine to 23 million in June from about 10 million in April, a government official said.
“There will be a gradual buildup of vaccines,” said the official, who is involved in the approval of vaccines.
Only about 3 percent of India’s population is fully vaccinated and about 12 percent have got the first shot and are waiting for the second. State governments, including in the capital Delhi, have reported an acute shortage of vaccines and some are inoculating only the elderly and frontline workers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced criticism for donating vaccines to neighboring countries and further afield early this year as part of a diplomatic initiative.
“The very possibility of a second wave was not considered serious enough, and all aspects of the pandemic response bore the brunt, including vaccination,” the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation said in a report on the vaccine rollout on Monday.
India reported its lowest daily rise in new coronavirus infections since April 11 on Monday at 152,734 cases over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,128.
The South Asian nation’s tally of infections now stands at 28 million, while the death toll has reached 329,100, health ministry data showed.
Most experts believe the coronavirus infections and deaths are considerably undercounted. The New York Times said the most conservative estimate of deaths was 600,000 and the worst case scenario several times that number. The government has dismissed the assessments as absolutely false.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, the head of the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences based in New Delhi, said the pandemic was slowing in large parts of the country but it was not contained.
“We seem to be past the peak, but there is a certain level of concern about the south and north eastern states,” he said, stressing on the need for increased vaccinations.
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will also be launched in the Indian market next month, its local partner Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said.
GAVI hopeful COVID-19 vaccine exports from India can resume in Q3The GAVI Vaccine Alliance hopes deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines from India can be resumed in the third quarter of this year, it said on Tuesday, after ... Coronavirus
India says ‘minuscule’ clotting cases after AstraZeneca vaccineIndia has found 26 suspected cases of bleeding and clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the health ministry said on Monday, ... Coronavirus
India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh in talks to buy $1 bln worth of vaccinesIndia’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh will spend up to $1 billion to buy COVID-19 shots and held early talks this week with companies such as ... Coronavirus
India’s Biological E. to begin Phase III trial of vaccine, production from AugustIndia’s Biological E. Ltd will soon start Phase III trials of its COVID-19 vaccine and plans producing 75 million to 80 million doses a month from ... Coronavirus
India allocates $6.7 bln in cheap loans for vaccine, hospital, health firmsIndia’s central bank said Wednesday that $6.7 billion in cheap financing would be released for vaccine makers, hospitals and other health firms to ... Coronavirus
Pfizer donates $70 mln worth of COVID-19 vaccines to India: CEOPfizer is in discussions with the Indian government seeking an “expedited approval pathway” for its COVID-19 vaccine, its CEO Albert Bourla said on ... Coronavirus
India expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility categoriesIn hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections, India opened vaccinations to all adults Saturday, launching a huge inoculation effort ... Coronavirus