Daily virus cases below 50,000 after India’s record vaccine doses in a day

New Delhi, June 22 (EFE).- India added less than 50,000 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the lowest daily cases in more than three months, a day after the country vaccinated a record 8.6 million people.

The health ministry data showed that 42,640 people tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours from Monday morning, bringing the total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to a few notches shy of 30 million.

It is the lowest daily spike in more than three months of the devastating second wave of the virus, as the previous lowest was on March 20 when India some 40,950 cases.

The health ministry data showed that 1,167 succumbed to the disease over the past day, taking the overall Covid-19 death toll to 389,302.

The number of daily deaths is lowest since Apr.14, when 1,052 people died due to the disease.

The decline in the number of infections and fatalities marks a stark contrast to the peak of the second wave when the country reported more than 400,000 cases daily for five days in a row from May 1.

The daily number of deaths crossed the 4,000-mark for many days during the more virulent and fast-spreading second wave.

With the deadly second wave of the virus showing clear signs of ebbing, the Indian government bets on its vaccination drive amid a push for herd immunity against Covid-19.

Health workers over the past day inoculated more than 8.6 million people across the country, setting a record number of vaccinations in a day.

It raised the total number of doses administered in India to about 283 million from mid-January when the drive began.

The Indian government has set a goal to administer 600 million doses by August in the country with 1.35 billion people.

However, vaccine shortages have significantly delayed the ambitious target.

The government Monday began a free vaccination drive for all above 18 years in a policy change to speed up the sluggish inoculation drive.

On May 1, the government extended the drive to people between 18 and 44 but left the process and the vaccine acquisition to state governments.

Activists, regional governments, and the judiciary widely criticized the policy.

The Supreme Court found it flawed, prompting the federal government to centralize the procurement and provide free vaccines to the 18-44 age group.

The government’s U-turn came after the top court slammed the central government over its decentralized vaccine procurement, differential pricing, and paid inoculation for 18 to 44 years of age.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi later announced that the government would change its course and make jabs cost-free for all.

As per the new policy, the federal government will procure 75 percent of total vaccines and distribute them to states.

Private hospitals will purchase the rest 25 percent and charge a maximum of 150 Indian rupees ($2) per dose. EFE

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