Corona pandemic in India: preparations for the world’s largest vaccination campaign


1.3 billion people live in India. They should all get a corona vaccination – at least that is what Prime Minister Modi promises. There is still no approved vaccine.

By Bernd Musch-Borowska, ARD Studio New Delhi

The preparations for the start of the largest vaccination campaign in the world are in full swing. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Serum Institute over the weekend, where the so-called Oxford vaccine against the corona virus is produced in collaboration with the British manufacturer AstraZeneca. The head of government promised that the first vaccinations will be administered at the beginning of next year.

“Once the vaccine is available, we will make sure that everyone can be vaccinated with it,” said Modi. A corona vaccination for every citizen – “that is our mission”. India has a population of more than 1.3 billion. Two doses of vaccine would be needed for each.

According to its own information, the Serum Institute in Pune plans to apply for emergency approval for the preparation shortly. But there are still no binding orders, said the head of the institute, Adar Poonawalla, the Reuters news agency. “We don’t have any written information about how many doses the government intends to buy. But the Ministry of Health has already mentioned that they want to give 300 to 400 million doses of vaccine by the middle of next year.”

Situation in New Delhi particularly bad

Meanwhile, the number of new corona infections in India has apparently stabilized. Again there were almost 40,000 new cases within 24 hours. Overall, the number of confirmed corona cases is almost 9.5 million. Almost 140,000 people have already died in connection with COVID-19 in India.

The situation in New Delhi is particularly dire. There were around 2,000 corona deaths in November in the capital alone. The situation is out of control, complains Jyot Jeet Singh of the Shunty Group, an aid organization that offers ambulance services for the needy and brings the deceased to the crematoria. “The sick have to be taken to the hospital, the corpses to the crematorium. It’s total chaos in the city. The system has collapsed and the health authorities in Delhi are no longer under control.”

With penalties against mask refusers

The NGO transported 25 bodies a day this month. Usually there is an average of seven, according to Jitender Singh Shunty: “The situation in Delhi is really bad. Too many people are simply dying in connection with Corona.” Elderly people with health problems such as diabetes, lung diseases, kidney or heart problems are particularly affected. “Usually we take them to the hospital and not to the crematorium.”

While the markets of the Indian capital are very busy despite the pandemic, the authorities are desperately calling for compliance with hygiene and distance rules. Recently, the fines for mask refusers were drastically increased – to 2,000 rupees, the equivalent of just under 25 euros. That is more than the average daily wage for a simple worker.

Deutschlandfunk reported on this topic on November 30, 2020 at 1:22 p.m.

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