Indian states run out of COVID-19 vaccine amid record cases

(REUTERS): Several Indian states run out of coronavirus vaccines a day before a planned widening of a nationwide inoculation drive, as new infections in the pandemic-hit country broke another daily record.

India reported 386,452 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, while deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,498 over the last 24 hours, according to India’s health ministry data.

India is in deep crisis, with hospitals and morgues overwhelmed by the pandemic, medicines and oxygen in short supply and strict curbs on movement in its biggest cities.

Despite being the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough stockpiles to keep up with the second deadly COVID-19 wave. Only about 9% of India’s 1.4 billion people have received a vaccine dose since January.

Inoculation centres in Mumbai will be shut for three days starting Friday because of the shortage of vaccines, authorities said. In the southern state of Karnataka, the state’s health minister said Karnataka’s vaccination drive for adults will not begin on May 1.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged citizens not to show up at vaccination centres on Saturday, as doses had not yet arrived. Meanwhile, world aid has started arriving in India as it struggles to combat what has been described as a humanitarian disaster.

The first US flight carrying oxygen cylinders, regulators, rapid diagnostic kits, N95 masks and pulse oximeters arrived in the Indian capital Delhi on Friday.