India’s Official Covid-19 Death Count Crosses 250,000 As U.S. Mulls Joint Production Of J&J Vaccine In Country

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India’s Official Covid-19 Death Count Crosses 250,000 As U.S. Mulls Joint Production Of J&J Vaccine In Country

Topline

India’s official Covid-19 death toll crossed the 250,000 mark on Wednesday after it reported a record 4,205 deaths as the pandemic’s deadly second wave continues to surge across the country while several states report vaccine shortages.

Key Facts

According to data released by the Indian government on Wednesday, the country’s official Covid-19 death toll now stands at 254,197 while its total number of reported cases have surged past 23 million—both numbers believed to be severe undercounts.

As the second wave continues to surge, several states across the country have begun to report vaccine shortages that have forced them to float global tenders to import more jabs.

One possible solution to India’s severe vaccine shortage was offered by the top U.S. diplomat in the country who on Tuesday said Washington was looking at joint production of Johnson and Johnson’s Covid vaccine in India.

Daniel B Smith, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in India, added that America is looking at ways to help local vaccine manufacturers like the Serum Institute of India (SII) to boost production.

Smith however noted that a large stock of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured at a plant near Baltimore has not yet been certified by the US Food and Drug Administration for export due to manufacturing problems at the plant.

Big Number

175 million. That’s the total number of Covid-19 vaccine doses India has administered as of Tuesday evening, the country’s health ministry said in an official release. However, only around 38 million Indians have been fully vaccinated against the deadly disease which is less than 3% of India’s massive population of 1.3 billion people.

What To Watch For

Of the roughly 85 million vaccines that India will produce this month, states will only be allowed to directly purchase 20 million doses from the manufacturers to inoculate their population in the 18-44 age group, the country’s federal government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday. States will be allowed to make these purchases as per a “fixed quota” based on how many people they have in the 18-44 age group. The federal government will itself purchase 50% of the 85 million doses produced this month and distribute them among the states while the states and private hospitals are each allowed to directly purchase 25% of the doses at higher prices. The federally allocated doses can only be used to inoculate people who are 45 or older. The remaining 20 million or so doses will be sold to private hospitals where patients can pay to get their shots. The federal government’s convoluted vaccine distribution process, which includes tiered pricing, has been harshly criticized.

Further Reading

US eyes joint production of J&J vaccine in India, in touch with SII (Indian Express)

States can procure only 20 million Covid-19 jabs for 18+ in May (Hindustan Times)

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