Mutant strains, vaccine shortage hamper Kerala's COVID-19 fight

Bengaluru : An elderly citizen being administered the COVID-19 vaccine, during the second phase of countrywide inoculation drive, at a private hospital, in Bengaluru on Monday 1st March, 2021. (Photo: IANS)
Representative image. Photo: IANS/File

Thiruvanathapuram: The recent flare-up of COVID cases and reports of vaccine shortage in Kerala have become a concern for the authorities and the public at large. While the health department expects the recent surge to normalise in three weeks, health minister KK Shailaja has asked the Centre for more doses of vaccine.

The shortage of vaccine is acute in Thiruvananthapuram, where 30,000 doses are administered every day. At present, only 15,000 doses are in stock, said a medical professional.

A similar situation exists in all other districts, he added.

The Centre has informed that the next batch of vaccines will arrive in Kerala by April 20.

Until they arrive, the State seeks to curtail the distribution of vaccines to mega camps organised with the support of local bodies. This is likely to hamper the State's drive to vaccinate everyone over the age of 45 within a month.

Kerala reported 6,194 new COVID cases on Saturday, the highest in months. The Test Positivity Rate has risen above 10% for the first time since February 3. Over 39,000 people are currently undergoing treatment across the State.

A man reads a notice after it was closed by the authorities due to shortage of COVID-19 vaccine in Ghaziabad. Photo: PTI

The daily COVID figures are estimated to cross 10,000 in a week before it sees any decline.

India too saw a record 1,45,384 fresh cases with 794 more fatalities as the COVID-19 tally climbed to 1,32,05,926 on Saturday.

Active COVID-19 cases in India breached the 11-lakh mark for first time and daily high 1.5 lakh too is a record, while the death toll due to the viral disease has gone up to 1,68,436.

As infections soar, efforts are also on to study the effects of mutant strains of the virus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, at AIIMS in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

'Centre has mismanaged'

Congress President Sonia Gandhi accused the Centre of "mismanaging" the COVID situation and creating a vaccine shortage in the country by exporting it, as she called for cancelling all public gatherings and poll rallies given the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Addressing a virtual meeting with the chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states and ministers of the party in states where it is in power in alliance with others, she said the priority should be to test, track and vaccinate.

Former president Rahul Gandhi expressed concern over the second wave of COVID-19 hitting the country.

He urged the government to look at new mutations, which are the source of the second wave and called for joining hands and energies, instead of complacency and celebrating premature victories.

In another swipe at the Centre, he said the government should give people "jobs and jabs" instead of indulging in rhetoric.

'India fastest'

Amid criticism, the Union Health Ministry on Saturday said that India is the fastest nation to administer 100 million doses in 85 days.

The US took 89 days to administer 10 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while China took 102 days to cross the same number, it said.

The Prime Minister's Office also tweeted a chart showing India as the fastest country to reach this vaccination milestone, calling it a proof of "strengthening efforts to ensure a healthy and COVID-19 free India."

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