The number of cases is shocking coronavirus recorded in the South Asian region while at the same time there is a big problem with vaccines as there are severe shortages. Infections exceeded 30 million, according to a Reuters count based on official country data.
India, the world’s second most populous country, recorded the highest death toll from covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic this month, with deaths there accounting for more than a third of the deaths recorded in May worldwide.
In the region of South Asia – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka – about 18% of all coronavirus cases worldwide and almost 10% of covid-19 deaths have been reported. But fears are growing that official figures do not represent the real situation.
This month, India, according to the Athens News Agency, extended its vaccination campaign to anyone over the age of 18. However, it has not been able to cope with the growing demand despite being the largest producer of vaccines in the world.
India is vaccinating its citizens with the AstraZeneca vaccine against covid-19 which is produced domestically by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin which is produced by the local company Bharat Biotech, while it has also started to give the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.
India has not been able to get the vaccines it needs
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing fierce criticism for failing to secure enough vaccines covid-19 with just 3% of India’s 1.3 billion people fully vaccinated, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the highest incidence.
In order to meet domestic demand, India temporarily suspended vaccine exports in March after donating or selling more than 66 million doses. This suspension has caused major problems in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and many African countries.
However, the India still faces vaccine shortages with many state governments, even cities like Mumbai, turning to companies like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to buy emergency vaccines.
The daily rate of new cases in India has been declining in recent days, raising hopes that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has begun to subside in the country. But there are serious concerns that many new infections go unreported, mainly due to the lack of diagnostic tests in the countryside.
To date, India has officially recorded almost 27.6 million cases and 318,895 deaths from covid-19.
As India does not seem likely to resume vaccine exports before October, other South Asian countries are making diplomatic efforts to secure vaccines against covid-19 to boost their immunization campaigns as stockpiles dwindle.
Pakistan, after purchases and donations from China and the vaccines it received from the World Health Organization’s Covax system, has now secured more than 18 million doses. On Wednesday, Pakistan extended its immunization campaign to those over 19 years of age.
To date, 219.17 million doses of vaccine have been administered in South Asian countries, according to data from Our World in Data.