COVID-19 Updates: First Batch of Sputnik Vaccines Arrive in India

A medical specialist holds a vial of the Sputnik V vaccine in Moscow, Russia, January 18, 2021 Photo: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

On Saturday morning, India recorded over 4 lakh new COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s total tally of confirmed cases to 1,91,64,969. This was the first time that a country has reported more than 4 lakh new cases.

The death toll rose by 3,523 new fatalities to 2,11,853, according to the Union health ministry.

The country now has 32,68,710 active cases, comprising 17.06% of the total infections. The national COVID-19 recovery rate stands at 81.84%.

Across the world, there have now been over 151 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to Johns Hopkins University, the global death toll due to COVID-19 stands at 3,182,717.

The US has recorded 312,346,833 confirmed cases of COVID-19 while India is in second place with 19,164,969 cases, followed by Brazil (14,659,011). The US has also recorded the highest death toll, with 576,237 fatalities so far. The death toll has also been high in Brazil (403,781), Mexico (216,907) and India (211,853).

India kicked off the “world’s largest” vaccination programme on January 16, to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. Public health authorities hope to inoculate 300 million high-risk people over the next six to eight months. The first to get the vaccine will be 30 million health and other frontline workers, followed by about 270 million people aged over 50 or deemed high-risk.

Two vaccine candidates ‒ the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate known as Covishield in India and Covaxin, indigenously developed by Hyderabad-based company Bharat Biotech together with the Indian Council of Medical Research – are being given to beneficiaries.

The second phase of the vaccine rollout began on March 1, allowing people above the age of 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities to receive shots of the vaccine candidates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the first dose Covaxin shot on March 1, and encouraged others to take the vaccine.

From April 1, all those above 45, irrespective of whether they have comorbidities or not, have been eligible to receive the vaccine candidates. From May 1, the next phase of vaccinations began – amid hiccups and confusion as several states are facing a shortage of vaccines – and everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible for the vaccine.

As of Saturday morning, almost 15.5 crore doses have been administered. According to the health ministry, 12.7 crore vaccines have been administered as the first dose, while 2.79 crore have been administered as the second dose.

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