Vaccination centres in parts of India turned people away on Thursday and large parts of the country reportedly ran low on doses, just as infections rose at their fastest rate since the pandemic began.
A second wave has hit India with a vengeance in recent weeks, with a record 126,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, more than 10 times rates seen in February. About 1.8 million fresh cases have been reported since March 1.
The government is desperate to avoid a new lockdown but several regions have tightened curbs, with the current epicentre Maharashtra set to enter a weekend shutdown. Tamil Nadu on Thursday was the latest state to announce restrictions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after receiving his second shot on Thursday that vaccines are “among the few ways we have to defeat the virus”. He urged others to follow his lead by getting vaccinated.
But the world’s biggest vaccination programme is reportedly experiencing problems having administered 87 million shots so far in a population of 1.3 billion people.
According to the Times of India, 10 states that are collectively home to more than 700 million people have stocks for only three or four more days including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
In Maharashtra, which includes megacity Mumbai, the state health minister warned on Wednesday that supplies would run out in three days unless replenished.
“We are having to tell people that since vaccine supplies have not arrived, they should go home,” Rajesh Tope told reporters.