India is expected to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines starting today. New Delhi has moved quickly to begin vaccinating its population
India is expected to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines starting today.
New Delhi has moved quickly to begin vaccinating its population of over 1.3 billion following the January 3 approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the domestically developed Covaxin produced by Indian firm Bharat Biotech. To speed up distribution, the company shipped the first vaccines to regional hubs on January 12, following two trial runs on January 5 and 8 to test logistics. The rapid approval of Covaxin, however, has raised serious doubts among the nation’s top scientists over its safety and effectiveness without late-stage clinical testing, especially as other countries seek access.
Issues with vaccine safety and effectiveness, as well as distribution logistics, are likely to hamper a rapid and successful rollout. India’s large population and high caseload, second globally at about 10.5 million, raise serious logistical, supply, and distribution issues. Covaxin’s potential problems could leave the country with far fewer usable vaccines than projected and create major shortages. The government has touted Covaxin as a major step towards Indian self-reliance and growing regional influence to counter China. However, this could seriously backfire if the vaccine proves ineffective or dangerous.
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