India has started vaccinating tens of thousands of people above the age of 45 in its biggest push yet against a surging virus that has hit the highest daily count since early October.
The world’s second most populous country aims to immunise 400 million people after expanding the programme, which had been restricted to the over-60s and people with serious health conditions, said a government official.
India kicked off its innoculation programme in January focused on health workers and then the elderly, saying it wanted to cover the most vulnerable first.
It also shipped millions of doses of the vaccine to neighbouring countries and then across the world as part of a diplomatic initiative to win friends, but of late this has prompted criticism that people at home were being neglected.
Adding to the pressure on the government, the daily rise in cases has quadrupled in the space of a month as most of India has reopened for business and travel curbs have been lifted.
“The situation is going from bad to worse” V.K. Paul, the top COVID-19 adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said this week.
Data released by the health ministry on Thursday showed 72,330 new Covid-19 infections, the highest since Oct. 11. Deaths stand at 162,927.
India’s overall caseload stood at 12.22 million, making it the third worst affected globally, behind the United States and Brazil.