Daily Covid-19 vaccine updates: For the first time, over 1 mln people in India receive Covid-19 vaccines in a single day
Photo: Moneycontrol

India Vaccinates Over 1 Million People In One Day For The First Time

India hit an important milestone on Thursday, vaccinating over a million people in a single day against COVID-19. Some 10.93 lakh people were given the vaccine till 7 pm, Health Ministry data showed, taking the total to 1.77 crore since launching the campaign on January 16, NDTV reported.

According to a provisional report till 7 pm on Thursday, 1.77 crore vaccine doses have been given so far. Of these, over 68.38 lakh are healthcare workers (HCW) who have taken the first dose. 30.82 lakh workers have taken the second dose. Similarly, 60.22 lakh frontline workers (FLW) have taken the first dose, while 54.177 frontline workers have taken the second dose, the ministry said.

"A total of 10,93,954 vaccine doses were given till 7 pm on Thursday, the forty-eighth day of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive. Out of which, 8,34,141 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 2,59,813 HCWs and FLWs received the second dose of vaccine as per the provisional report," the ministry said.

The milestone comes amid a surge in cases in Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka, accounting for 85.51 per cent of fresh cases, according to the union health ministry.

A total of 17,407 new infections have been registered in the past 24 hours.

Maharashtra reported the highest daily new cases at 9,855. This is the highest number recorded in the state since October 18 when 10,259 new cases were reported.

It is followed by Kerala with 2,765 while Punjab reported 772 new cases. The total number of cases with UK, South Africa and Brazil variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the country as of date has reached 242, the ministry said.

India's total COVID-19 active caseload has reached 1,73,413 comprising 1.55 percent of India's total cases.

U.S. administers 82.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines: CDC

The United States has administered 82,572,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Thursday morning and delivered 109,905,530 doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The tally of vaccine doses is for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, the agency said.

According to the tally posted on March 4, the agency had administered 80,540,474 doses of the vaccines and distributed 107,028,890 doses.

The agency said 54,035,670 people had received one or more doses, while 27,795,980 people have gotten the second dose as of Thursday.

A total of 7,262,104 vaccine doses have been administered in long-term care facilities, the agency said.

Germany approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people over 65

Daily Covid-19 vaccine updates: For the first time, over 1 mln people in India receive Covid-19 vaccines in a single day

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Germany’s vaccination authority has approved the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine on the over-65s, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, in a step that should help accelerate the country’s faltering vaccination drive.

It added that the Permanent Vaccination Authority had recommended extending to a maximum 12 weeks the period between receiving the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca shot on the back of studies showing a longer gap improved its efficacy.

“This is good news for older people who are waiting for a vaccine. They can now be vaccinated more quickly,” the ministry said. “We will shortly issue a regulation implementing both recommendations.”

Germany declined initially to authorize AstraZeneca’s vaccine for those aged above 65, saying there was a lack of evidence from clinical trials confirming its effectiveness on that age cohort.

But growing data showing the AstraZeneca shot’s efficacy among the elderly in Britain has led to a change of heart in Berlin, while France has also eased a ban on administering the shot to people over the age of 65.

The German decision was in line with recommendations by the European Union’s health regulator that the second shot of AstraZeneca’s vaccine be administered between four and 12 weeks after the first.

Italy blocked vaccines from being shipped to Australia as the EU fails to secure supplies

Italy has blocked a shipment of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine which was bound for Australia, in the first use of emergency powers the EU introduced last month to limit the export of vaccines amid concerns about their supply, said Business Insider.

European officials confirmed to Insider that Italy last week decided to block the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines made in the country in a bid to shore up the EU's own supplies of the vaccine.

Most European member states have struggled to launch effective vaccination campaigns and have fallen well behind the UK and the US in terms of vaccination rates.

Rome used powers under the European Commission's newly introduced vaccine exports authorisation mechanism.

Mario Draghi, Italy's new prime minister, has taken a tough line on Italy's vaccination efforts, asking fellow EU leaders last month why the bloc was not imposing stricter measures on vaccine exports, the Financial Times reported.

The European Commission introduced the controversial vaccine export mechanism last month amid a row with AstraZeneca and the UK government over vaccine supply shortages.

European officials appeared to suspect that the British-headquartered drugs firm may have been diverting some of its EU-made vaccine supplies to the UK, which it said would have represented a breach of contract.

Under the scheme, member states to block the export of domestically made vaccines that are bound for other counties.

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine expands its reach in Latin America

Daily Covid-19 vaccine updates: For the first time, over 1 mln people in India receive Covid-19 vaccines in a single day
Millions of doses of Sputnik V are already being produced each month at the Generium Pharmaceutical plant. Photo: CNN

Russia's Sputnik V has seen rising popularity across Latin America as more countries announce shipments and deals to purchase the Covid-19 vaccine, according to CNN.

Nine Latin American countries so far have approved usage of the Sputnik V vaccine -- Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela. Distribution of the vaccine has also begun in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela.

The vaccine has been approved in 39 countries around the world, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which handles the marketing of the vaccine.

The Sputnik V vaccine has a cheaper list price and can be stored at higher temperatures than the Pfizer vaccine, which has made it appealing to Latin American countries with less-developed economies and infrastructures. It requires two doses taken 21 days apart to be effective.

Argentina became the first Latin American country to distribute the Sputnik V vaccine in late December, with the purchase of up to 25 million doses. The country has already distributed over 600,000 doses.

Since then, Venezuela and Mexico both received shipments of 100,000 and 200,000, respectively, in early February. Nicaragua began distributing the vaccine on March 2 after receiving a donation of an undisclosed amount of doses.

As Russia struggles to keep up with demand, some countries have received only very small shipments. Bolivia received 20,000 Sputnik V doses in January, though it expects enough to eventually vaccinate 2.6 million people. Paraguay announced the purchase of one million doses, but has so far only received 4,000.

China's Sinopharm to raise vaccine production to 3 billion per year

Daily Covid-19 vaccine updates: For the first time, over 1 mln people in India receive Covid-19 vaccines in a single day
A staff member displays a sample of the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine at a vaccine production plant of China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd. (Sinopharm) in Beijing, capital of China, April 10, 2020. Photo: Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei.

China's pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm will expand COVID-19 vaccine production capacity to 3 billion doses per year, becoming the world's biggest vaccine producer for the virus, Chairman of Sinopharm Group Yu Qingming told the media.

Besides vaccine production plants in Beijing and Wuhan, the group is expanding production and packaging capacity by also making use of its institutes in Changchun, Shanghai, Lanzhou and Chengdu, Yu said during interviews with the People's Daily.

All of China's more than 5,000 national-level lawmakers and political advisors who have congregated in Beijing for the ongoing legislative two sessions have received Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines, he said.

After realizing yearly production capacity of 3 billion, Sinopharm will be the largest vaccine producer in the world, according to Yu.

Yu, also a deputy to the National People's Congress, proposed during this year's two sessions to improve domestic medicine logistics system and promote domestic medical device development and manufacturing considering the shortages in these areas exposed during the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Yu's proposals the Global Times obtained from Sinopharm.

So far, two COVID-19 vaccines separately developed by Sinopharm's biological institutes in Beijing and Wuhan have been granted conditional market approval, along with another two separately developed by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech and Tianjin-based CanSinoBIO.

Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for market in five countries - United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, China, Bolivia and Seychelles. The vaccines have also been approved for emergency use in 40 countries including Serbia being the first European country and Hungary the first EU member for the inoculation, according to Yu.

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