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Vaccine laggards pick up speed in run-up to festivals

Vaccine laggards pick up speed in run-up to festivals

As India began rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine earlier this year, some states such as Telangana, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu struggled to keep pace with the rest of the country. However, in the last two festive months, these three states, along with Maharashtra and Assam, have picked up speed, doing better than high-performing states and even the national average, data shows. As a group, these five states had given 452 doses per 1,000 population at the end of August, 6.6% lower than the national average. Two months down, the cumulative coverage in these states has increased to 844 doses per 1,000 population, exceeding the national average (780). These states were performing poorly for different reasons. For example, Tamil Nadu faced high vaccine hesitancy, with 42% people unwilling to get vaccinated earlier this year, according to a survey by Facebook with the University of Maryland and Carnegie Mellon University. Its vaccination coverage was 427 per 1,000 population at the end of August. However, the state organized a series of mass vaccination camps (seven since mid-September), even as vaccine hesitancy started reducing after the second pandemic wave. As a result, its vaccination coverage jumped by 80.6% to 771 doses per 1,000 at the end of October. During this period, Telangana and West Bengal have each increased their coverage by 79% and 89% respectively. All the states, except West Bengal, administered fewer doses in October than they did in September. However, some states are yet to pick up pace. Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have each administered less than 600 doses per 1,000 population. Vaccine Maitri Bangladesh reported the best growth in vaccination coverage last week among the most populous countries after three weeks. It received one million doses of Covishield from India under its “vaccine maitri programme after the latter resumed exports two weeks ago. The Bangladesh government is planning to inoculate half of its population, or 80 million people, by January. So far, it has vaccinated 40 million with at least the first dose, and has also started vaccinating children aged 12-17 starting 1 November. Indonesia and the Philippines have slid down to the third and fourth places, as Mexico jumped to the second spot for the first time. Earlier this week, Mexico received 6.5 million Sputnik V doses and 5.9 million AstraZeneca doses. Pressure has been mounting on the Mexican government to expand its vaccination program to include children. Meanwhile, Indonesia became the first country to give emergency approval to Covavax, the vaccine developed by Novavax and Serum Institute of India. In Focus: Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh has been witnessing a steady rise in covid-19 cases since the first week of October. Eight of its 12 districts have reported more new infections this week than they did in the last. It is the only state in India where more than 50% of the districts have reported an increase in cases. Kangra district, with 756 active cases, accounted for 42% of the total active caseload in the state. It’s the first time that Kangra, or any other district in the state, has reported over 800 cases since the third week of June. Himachal Pradesh now has 1,796 active cases, the highest since the third week of August. On the positive side, the state has the highest vaccination coverage in the country. Kangra has vaccinated 71% of its population with at least one dose and 42% with both doses, which will likely keep the hospitalizations and deaths in check. Orange Signals India reported 93,206 new cases this week, down 12.5%. It’s the first time the weekly count has slid below 100,000 since the last week of February. However, 17 states and union territories reported a rise in cases, compared to 12 in the preceding week. West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir reported the biggest jump, by 309 and 88, respectively. Kerala still accounts for nearly half the confirmed cases in the country. Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Kozhikode are the only four districts in India with over 5,000 new cases each in the last week. India also reported a sharp rise in its death count, but that was mostly because of the reconciliation exercise undertaken by Kerala. Even as the country celebrates Diwali, there is also hope that the cases won’t pick up post this festive season, thanks to higher seroprevalence this time. (howindialives.com is a database and search engine for public data) Download.

science 2021-11-03 Livemint