India begins to administer booster doses amid surging Covid cases

New Delhi, Jan 10 (EFE).- India on Monday began to administer booster doses to healthcare and frontline workers as well as people over 60 years with co-morbidities amid a surge in Covid-19 infections in the Asian country.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the extension of the country’s vaccination program on Dec. 25, describing the booster vaccine as a “precautionary dose.”

Last week, India also began Covid-19 vaccination for children aged between 15-18 years.

The Asian country recorded 179,723 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, about 20,000 more than the previous day and the highest number in the past eight months, according to the Indian health ministry.

The country also registered 146 deaths on Monday amid a third wave of the pandemic that has led to a rapid increase in infections.

The total number of cases recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic stands at 35.7 million, making India the world’s second most affected country in absolute terms behind the United States (60 million).

A total of 483,936 people have died from the virus in the Asian nation, according to official data.

India became the global epicenter of the pandemic in May last year during a devastating second wave with a peak of more than 400,000 infections and over 4,500 deaths daily that caused a shortage of oxygen across the country, and overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

The authorities’ estimate that between 500,000 and one million daily cases could be recorded during the third wave’s peak, which is being driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Several regions across the country have tightened restrictions amid fears that a surge in cases will lead to an increase in hospitalizations and overwhelm the fragile healthcare system.

The spread of the Omicron variant, with more than 4,000 cases detected throughout the country and especially in large cities, is also a source of worry for the authorities.

India has administered 1.519 billion doses of the Covid vaccine since the country’s vaccination drive began a year ago while 632 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the official Cowin website. EFE


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