India on Friday registered 3,43,144 new Covid-19 infections in 24 hours and 4,000 fatalities. This pushed the country’s case count to 2,40,46,809 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The toll rose to 2,62,317.
The mortality rate in India was at 1.09% and the recovery rate was 83.50%, with 2,00,79,599 Covid-19 patients recovering from the disease. As many as 37,04,893 active cases were recorded as of Friday morning, which means these patients were still receiving treatments.
The Union health ministry said that 10 states accounted for 71.16% of the new recoveries. The active cases in the country comprised 15.41% of the country’s total Covid-19 positive cases.
“A net decline of 5,632 cases is recorded in the active caseload in the last 24 hours,” the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare statement read. “Twelve states cumulatively account for 79.7% of India’s total active cases.”
India has so far used two vaccines – Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin – to inoculate its population. A total of 17,92,98,584 vaccine doses had been administered as of 7 am on Friday. Of these, 20,27,162 vaccine shots were given on Thursday alone.
On Thursday, the Union health ministry said Sputnik V, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Center will be available in Indian markets from next week. It will be the third Covid-19 vaccine to receive emergency-use authorisation in India.
Sputnik V had shown a 91.6% efficacy in late-stage trials, according to results published in February. Each dose of this vaccine will be priced at Rs 995.50.
The Indian government, which has been tackling an acute shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, also said that 216 crore doses of vaccines will be manufactured between August and December. Amid reports from several states about lack of sufficient vaccines, the central government said the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine may be increased to 12-16 weeks. So far, the recommended gap was six to eight weeks.
On Friday, the Centre said states will be provided with additional doses of Covid-19 vaccines. “During the 16th-31st May 2021 fortnight, 191.99 lakh doses of Covishield and Covaxin will be supplied to the States and UTs, free of cost,” the Union health ministry said. “This will include 162.5 lakh of Covishield and 29.49 lakh of Covaxin.”
United States’ top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci backed India’s decision to extend the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine. In an interview, Fauci said it was a “reasonable approach” to take when faced with a shortage of vaccines.
Meanwhile, the Narendra Modi government said biotechnology firm Bharat Biotech was willing to invite other companies to produce its coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin.
Globally, the coronavirus has now infected 16.08 crore people and killed over 33.40 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.