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Even as the vaccination drive gathers momentum in India, Covid-19 cases continue to surge across the country. Here, we look at the latest developments of the week.

India halts vaccine export to focus on domestic immunisation

India has temporarily halted the export of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield. This is likely to affect the vaccine supply to scores of countries that were dependent on the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which is the licensed producer of the vaccine. The company has said that the Government of India has asked it to prioritize its vaccine supply to India. The demand for the vaccine is likely to increase in India after the Union Cabinet recently decided to widen the vaccination drive by allowing anybody above the age of 45 to get a vaccination from April 1st. In the meantime, states like Maharashtra, which have been hit the worst, are requesting vaccine coverage for all adults. Read more here.

‘Vaccine hesitancy’ could be one reason for low numbers

India has administered over 50 million doses, with nearly 43 million people receiving at least one dose. The numbers are impressive when compared with other countries, but for India, they are relatively low as the vaccine supply is abundant and the vulnerable population runs into hundreds of millions. According to news reports, the government is citing “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the reasons for many in the eligible category not getting vaccinated. 3.4 million doses were administered on March 22, making it the highest for a single day ever since the drive began. Read more here.

Demand may outpace vaccine production in India

The Serum Institute of India, the lead manufacturer of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has raised concerns about the shortage of raw materials affecting its production. Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII), has attributed the shortage of raw material supply to the U.S. export ban. The SII has asked the Indian government to intervene and request the U.S. not to stop raw material supplies. As the Indian government has allowed even those above the age of 45 eligible for the vaccine, there could be an enormous demand for it. This may have prompted the Indian government to ask the SII to prioritise its domestic supply. Read more here.

Is India responsible for vaccine shortfall in the U.K.?

The U.K. has said that its vaccination rollout could receive a setback after it failed to get a shipment of 5 million doses of Oxford AstraZeneca from India last week.  With the Indian government reportedly instructing the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, that it should prioritize the needs of India before others, the vaccine shipment was halted. The British government has not blamed India, but the British press is full of stories on the development. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said that a single factory or a country cannot be blamed for the supply issue. However, the Department of Health, U.K. has assured it on track to administer at least one dose to all adults by July 2021. Read more here.

Infection surge after the first vaccine dose worries doctors

A considerable number of people have contracted Covid-19 even after receiving the first dose.  Doctors don’t find this unusual. According to them, the body develops resistance to the vaccine at least three weeks after receiving the second dose. People getting the first and second doses are requested to follow all the preventive measures until that time. In the vaccinated people turning Covid-positive, doctors have attributed carelessness to it. With a second wave on the surge, India has to take all the precautions it can even as the vaccination drive gathers pace. Read more here.

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