India vaccinates 60 mn as second wave induces fear

While the total number of covid tests exceeded 240 million since last week, the daily positivity rate rose to 5.04%

Neetu Chandra Sharma
Updated29 Mar 2021
Even as the covid-19 vaccination drive gathers pace, the burden of the pandemic is gradually increasing
Even as the covid-19 vaccination drive gathers pace, the burden of the pandemic is gradually increasing (Reuters)

India crossed the 60-million mark in covid-19 vaccinations on Sunday, led by people over 60, as experts warned the second wave of infections was likely linked to a lack of testing and contact tracing.

The government said those vaccinated so far include over 13 million healthcare workers, over 12 million frontline workers, 6.6 million people aged more than 45 years with co-morbidities and over 27 million people aged 60 years or more.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on 16 January with jabs for healthcare workers. Now, starting 1 April, the government will open up vaccination for everyone who is 45 years of age and above, irrespective of any comorbidities.

However, even as the covid-19 vaccination continues, the burden of the pandemic is gradually increasing. Seven states—Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu—have reported large numbers of covid-19 daily new cases. These states account for 81.46% of the new cases registered in the last 24 hours (62,714).

Maharashtra reported the highest daily new cases at 35,726, followed by Chhattisgarh (3,162) and Karnataka (2,886).

India’s total active caseload reached 486,310 on Sunday, an increase of 33,663 cases in the last 24 hours.

Over 312 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Six states account for 82.69% of the new deaths, led by Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala.

While the total number of covid-19 tests has exceeded 240 million since last week, the daily positivity rate has increased to 5.04% from 5%.

“Initially, the surge in the cases had been restricted to only certain states but now the situation seems to be worse and an upward trend is being observed in the metro cities of the nation,” said Suresh Sharma, head, Population Research Centre, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University.

“The rise in the infections which has been witnessed over the past few days is due to a reduction in the testing, as a significant decline is being observed in the number of tests that are being conducted,” he said.

Besides testing, the surge in infections is also due to a lack of “contact tracing” as different protocols have been standardized by different states which have been unable to trace cases or stop social gatherings in public places.

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