Several Indian states have run out of coronavirus vaccines a day before a planned widening of a nationwide Vaccination drive, authorities said on Friday, as new infections surged to another daily record.
New cases in the past 24 hours stood at 386,452, while deaths jumped by 3,498, health ministry data shows. Medical experts believe actual numbers may be five to 10 times greater than the official tally, however.
Since the end of February, India has added about 7.7 million cases as its second wave of infections picked up steam, a news agency tally shows. In contrast, it took nearly six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases.
The world’s second-most populous nation is in deep crisis, with hospitals and morgues overwhelmed by the pandemic, medicines and oxygen in short supply and strict curbs on movement in the biggest cities.
Despite being the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough stockpiles to keep up with the second deadly wave of infections, which deals a blow to its plans to vaccinate all adults, starting from Saturday.
Only about 9% of a population of 1.4 billion have received a vaccine dose since January.
The original vaccination plan was to cover just 300 million of the highest-risk people by August, but India widened the target as infections flared.
However, its two vaccine producers were already struggling to increase capacity beyond 80 million doses a month, hit by a shortage of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute, the maker of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Vaccination centers in the financial capital of Mumbai will shut for three days from Friday because of the vaccine shortage, authorities said.
Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged citizens not to show up at vaccination centers on Saturday, as doses had not yet arrived. “Let us not create a law and order problem tomorrow,” he said.
In Karnataka, home to the tech hub of Bengaluru, the southern state’s health minister said its vaccination drive for adults would not begin on Saturday.
“The state government has not received any information from companies about when they will be able to supply these vaccines,” said the minister, K Sudhakar.