Friday 30 April 2021 9:46 am

India hit by vaccine shortage a day before it widened its jabs drive

India has been hit by a Covid-19 vaccines shortage a day before it had planned to widen its nationwide inoculation programme, authorities said today.

It comes as the world’s second-most populous country saw another daily record in new cases, reporting 386,452 infections in the last 24 hours.

However, medical experts and journalists have warned that that the number of cases may be five to 10 times greater than the official records.

French health minister Olivier Veran said earlier this morning that it was still unclear if current Covid-19 vaccines were effective against the Indian variant.

The minister added that the danger of the B.1.617 variant must not be underestimated, Reuters reported.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed by the recent spike in cases, with Barclays funding around £1m worth of medical supplies, as it employs many from the region.

“We are very focused on India right now, which is our second biggest employee location,” chief executive Jes Staley told reporters after the bank’s first quarter results.

India has been the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, yet, it has struggled to vaccine its own population.

Earlier this month, the country signed up for a World Health Organisation partnership called COVAX, in which it pledged to donate up to 200m vaccine doses.

Only around 9 per cent of India’s 1.4bn people have received a vaccine dose since January.