With the virus largely in control, the focus has moved to the vaccination drive, which began on 16 January. A total of 786,842 healthcare workers got their first dose in the first five days. Karnataka administered 16% of these doses, Andhra Pradesh 15%, Telangana 11%, and Odisha and West Bengal 6% each.
Kerala, the epicentre of the pandemic in India, lags behind on this front at this stage, with only 24,000 doses administered so far.
The outbreak in the southern state is not showing any sign of slowing down. Thirteen of its 14 districts added more than 1,000 new cases each this week, according to data compiled by howindialives.com on Wednesday evening. Ernakulam (5,895) was the worst and Kasargod (502) the only exception.
Only eight other districts across India hit the 1,000 mark during the seven-day period, five of them in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Pune, and Thane. Pathanamthitta recorded the biggest weekly growth (9%), followed by Idukki (8%), and Wayanad (8%), all in Kerala.
All weekly growth trends are based on seven-day rolling averages to minimize the effect of delayed and volatile reporting by authorities.
With this, India’s total coronavirus cases have reached 10.61 million and the toll has touched 152,869. A total of 98,790 cases were added this week, of which 39% were in Kerala and 20% in Maharashtra. Nearly 61% of the 192,308 currently active cases are in these two states. The active cases tally is the lowest since 27 June 2020.
India’s case load grew just 1% this week, but Kerala bucked the trend with a 4.5% growth rate. However, in terms of deaths, Maharashtra continued to perform worse than Kerala. One in three covid-related deaths this week were in Maharashtra.
Lakshadweep, the only place in India protected from the virus so far, reported its first set of cases this week. A person who travelled from Kerala tested positive on Monday. Several of his primary contacts also tested positive, and the case load rose to 30 by Thursday morning. The Centre rushed an expert team to take stock of the situation and containment zones were declared.
Fewer than 2% of the more than 11 million coronavirus tests conducted in India in the last two weeks have been positive. Despite high testing, Kerala’s positivity rate continues to be high at 9%. The state is expected to ramp up testing after a recommendation from an expert team of the Union health ministry earlier this month.
Globally, the US continued to add the most cases in the world, averaging 200,000 per day. The new Joe Biden administration, which took oath on Wednesday, is likely to announce fresh measures to curb the spread.
More than 46 million people have been vaccinated in 51 countries as of Wednesday, show latest numbers compiled by Our World in Data. The US leads the way with 15.7 million, followed by China (15 million), the UK (4.7 million) and Israel (2.8 million). Israel had the best vaccination rate, with 34 doses already given per 100 population.
India is currently administering two vaccines approved for use, the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The turnout of health workers registered to get the jab has been lower than expected in states such as Punjab and Tamil Nadu
More than 600 adverse effects have been reported so far among individuals who have received their first dose. The government claimed that none of these cases were severe or could be attributed to vaccination yet.
Fears are understandable, given the short time-frame in which the vaccines came up and as one of the two jabs got approval with final efficacy results awaited. As the vaccination drive picks up in India, the central and state governments have the big task of not only inoculating people, but also to allay their fears and build trust.