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India’s daily COVID cases top 400,000 amid severe vaccine shortage

India has reported a staggering 400,000 new coronavirus infections in 24-hours – adding to a week-long streak of world record breaking numbers. To battle the devastating second wave, Saturday should have marked the start of a vaccine rollout for hundreds of millions of over-18s in India. But most states are not taking part, because there are not nearly enough vaccines to go around.

Plans to begin vaccinating all adults are in disarray. Many states simply don’t have any doses to give out. Only around one in ten of India’s vast population has had even a first jab – the lack of doses made worse by administrative inefficiencies.

Oxygen and medicines are also in short supply. Pharmacies say there has been panic buying and hoarding and they are restricting supplies – only giving out oxygen cylinders to people who can prove they really need them. Emergency care facilities are being set up. Sports halls, religious sites and catering facilities are being turned into makeshift COVID-19 isolation wards. And the awful task of dealing with the dead goes on. In the capital Delhi, volunteers put themselves at risk collecting the bodies of those who’ve died. An international relief effort is underway to help India fight its devastating second wave, but deaths and infections are still rising remorselessly and with not enough vaccines to go round.

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