India declared the existence of a new coronavirus variant called the “Delta Plus” variant.
This announcement came as India recorded the highest number of vaccinations last Monday, reaching 8.6 million people in a day.
According to Indian Health Minister Rajesh Bhushan, the Delta Plus variant was found in 16 people in the states of Maharastra, Kerala and Madya Pradesh.
Minister Rajesh said the Delta Plus variant shows a higher transmission rate than the previous Delta variant.
He also called on all states to increase testing.
India already offers free vaccinations to all adults, but health experts doubt these vaccination rates can keep up with the speed of transmission.
“This is clearly not sustainable,” health systems and public policy expert Chandrakant Lahariya told Reuters.
“With so many days, many states are on the verge of exhausting their vaccine supplies, which will impact vaccination rates in the following days.”
According to Dr. Chandrakant, the maximum vaccination rate that can be carried out in India is around 4 to 5 million doses given the expected availability of vaccines in the next few months.
So far, around 5.5 percent of the approximately 950 million people vaccinated in India have been vaccinated, even though India is the country producing the largest vaccine in the world.
The very sharp rise in cases in the second wave in April and May overwhelmed India's health system and caused hundreds of thousands of people to die.
Since May, the vaccination rate has been around three million a day, well below the daily target of 10 million, which health authorities say is a crucial number for protecting Indians from a new wave of infections.
The number of cases in India has reached almost 30 million
Experts say vaccination efforts are encountering difficulties in rural areas.
Even though 70 percent of the 1.4 billion people live in rural areas and the health system there is always overwhelmed.
Maintaining vaccination rates will be a challenge when it comes to vaccinating young residents of rural areas, according to Delhi epidemiologist Rajib Dasgupta.
The vaccination program in the capital Delhi is also a challenge in itself.
According to the authorities in New Delhi, around eight million citizens have not yet received their first dose of vaccination.
At the current pace of vaccination, it will take about a year to vaccinate all adults.
India is using the AstraZeneca vaccine made domestically by the Serum Institute of India and a local vaccine called Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech.
Last week, the Serum Institute said it plans to ramp up production to around 100 million doses starting in July.
Bharat Biotech estimates it can produce 23 million doses every month.
Indian television channel CNBC-TV18 reported that data from the third phase showed Covaxin had an efficacy rate of 77.8 percent.
India will also use the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia in the near future.
The Indian government will also import vaccines from other major vaccine makers such as Pfizer this year.
Even as India's infection rate has fallen to its lowest level in the past three months, experts say vaccination rates need to be increased as new variants spread faster.
This article was created by Sastra Wijaya Report in English
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