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India to give adults free COVID shots after surge in infections | Coronavirus pandemic News

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India will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all adults, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, in an effort to rein in a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to the world’s second-highest tally of infections.

Modi’s announcement came on Monday after weeks of criticism of a bungled vaccine rollout that has covered fewer than 5 percent of India’s estimated adult population of 950 million.

Health experts have warned that vaccination is the only way to protect lives from a feared third wave of infections after a surge in April-May overwhelmed hospitals in the big cities and in the vast hinterland.

India is the second worst-hit nation after the United States with just below 29 million confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Modi said the federal government would take over the vaccination programme from the states from June 21, reversing a policy under which states were partially running it.

“Whether it is the poor, the lower middle class, the middle class, or the upper middle class, under the federal government programme, everyone will get free vaccines,” he said on national television.

Under the earlier policy, the federal government gave free vaccines to the elderly and front-line workers, and left state governments and private hospitals to administer doses for a fee to people in the 18-45 age group.

State governments were also competing against each other to procure vaccines from local manufacturers as well as foreign firms.

Grappling with acute shortages, several states imposed strict curbs, including wholesale lockdowns, in recent weeks.

Several vaccination centres also shut down within days of the widening of the campaign to include everyone above the age of 18.

“We will increase the speed of procuring vaccines and also increase the pace of the vaccination programme,” Modi said.

Modi said everyone would get free coronavirus vaccines [Screen grab/YouTube]

Virus lockdowns ease in some areas

Last week, the government said it could have as many as 10 million doses each day in July and August, up from just below three million now.

Some hospitals said a uniform policy to distribute vaccines could ease the burden of procurement and prices.

“The centre would have a lot more clout in dealing with the multinationals … rather than individual states or smaller players directly negotiating with these companies,” Sudarshan Ballal, chairman at Manipal Hospitals, told Reuters news agency.

India has been inoculating its people with the AstraZeneca vaccine produced locally by the Serum Institute of India and Covaxin made by local firm Bharat Biotech. It will commercially launch Russia’s Sputnik V shots this month.

Modi said the government would allow private hospitals to have 25 percent of all vaccine supplies but not to charge more than 150 rupees ($2) over the cost of the dose.

The new policy should help move things faster, an expert said.

“This [centralised inoculation policy] eliminates states having to compete with one another for vaccine supplies, leaving them to concentrate on distributing them rapidly to their populations,” Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University in New Delhi, said.

Overnight, India reported 100,636 new infections, the lowest in the world’s second-most populous nation since April 6, and well off last month’s peaks of more than 400,000, allowing authorities to reopen the economy partially.

The financial hub of Mumbai and the national capital territory Delhi allowed private businesses to bring back 50 percent of their staff to workplaces and partially resumed public transport.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced that city officials would conduct door-to-door visits to enrol those aged above 45 for vaccination.

Experts warn that while the crisis has eased in Delhi, Mumbai and other big cities, the disease is still spreading in rural areas and in some southern and northeastern states.

The death toll – which usually lags infection figures by several weeks – was still at elevated levels, they added.

“Currently, the states with high test-positivity rates like Kerala and Tamil Nadu need to maintain the restrictions as any major easing can be risky,” community health expert Rajib Dasgupta told the AFP news agency.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Reckoning with Laughter: Noam Shuster returns to Israel

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About to make it big in the US, Israeli comedian Noam Shuster returns home to face her toughest audience yet.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: The Nobel Prize winner who went to war

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This feeling of marginalisation, particularly among the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, fuelled a wave of demonstrations. Mr Abiy, an Oromo himself, was promoted to the top job and immediately set about addressing concerns in a dizzying period of reforms.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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600 doses of stolen COVID-19 vaccines recovered at 2 private clinics

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Police have recovered 600 doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from two private pharmacies in Kampala. 10 suspects were also arrested in the two-day operation following a tip-off from a concerned citizen.    

A police officer, who was involved in the operation, intimated to URN that they carried out raids on First Pharmacy Mulago-Wandegeya and Victoria Pharmacy in Ntinda. He explains that they first sent operatives to both facilities under the disguise that they were travellers looking for Covid-19 vaccination and certificates and got assurance that the service was available.    

“We swiftly stormed these places in Wandegeya and Ntinda, and the stolen vaccines were found there and of course arrested some suspects from there,” he said.

He says that during the raid on First Pharmacy, they intercepted one of the employees who was running away with some materials in the bag.  

“We forced him to open the bag for searching. Upon opening, documents that looked like Covid-19 vaccination certificates dropped down,” he said.

He says that they searched the pharmacy where they recovered some exhibits and arrested some suspects. According to police, they also conducted another raid on Victoria Pharmacy, recovered several doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and arrested five suspects. 

Kampala Metropolitan deputy police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire confirmed the arrests but declined to reveal the identities of the suspects. 

“It’s true about that operation intelligence in Bukoto, we found 600 doses of the vaccine, in these two pharmacies and also ministry of Health vaccination cards and other documents” said Owoyesigyire’’. 

He says the suspects are locked up at the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka. According to police, similar operations are still ongoing after discovering that unscrupulous people stole Covid-19 vaccines from the ministry of Health storage facility and are now busy selling them to the public on the black market.

At a press conference held today, however, First pharmacy demanded an apology from the police, claiming no raid was conducted at their facility or vaccines recovered. 

More than 50 pe rcent of the 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines donated by Covax Facility and India have already been used. Recently, President Museveni in his televised address said that the government is preparing to get Johnson and Johnson vaccines from the USA and Cuba since India suspended exports. Unicef announced that another 170,000 doses would be arriving in the country in two weeks. 

 



Source – observer.ug

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