• Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:32 am

India opens up immunization to more people, vaccine exports to dwindle

  • Published at 01:51 pm April 1st, 2021
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan
File Photo: Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan holds a dose of Bharat Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine called Covaxin, during a vaccination campaign at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021 Reuters

India reported 72,330 new Covid-19 infections overnight, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday

India opened up its coronavirus inoculation program to people above 45 on Thursday as infections surge, which will delay vaccine exports from the world's biggest maker of the drug.

The country, with the most number of reported Covid-19 cases after the United States and Brazil, has so far injected 64 million doses and exported nearly as many.

This has raised criticism at home as India's per-capita vaccination figure is much lower than many countries. The government has previously said that people over 45 can register for inoculation from April 1.

India initially focused on front-like workers, the elderly and those suffering from other health conditions, unlike some richer countries that have made all their adults eligible to get inoculated.

New Delhi says it is working towards that goal, and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted that there would be no vaccine shortage in the country as it opens up the vaccination program.

"Centre to continually replenish states' supplies," he said on Twitter. "Avoid overstocking and under stocking."

India has already decided to delay big vaccine exports for now, including to the WHO-backed global vaccine alliance Covax.

It is currently using the AstraZeneca vaccine and a shot developed at home by Bharat Biotech, which is struggling to step up supplies. India's drug regulator is soon expected to approve Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

Meanwhile, India reported 72,330 new Covid-19 infections overnight, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday, and the highest since October 11.

India's overall caseload stood at 12.22 million, making it the third-most affected globally, behind the United States and Brazil. The country reported 459 deaths, taking the total to 162,927, the data showed.

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