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Indians Rush For Vaccines As Coronavirus Toll Tops 200000

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As Indians are struggling to register online for a mass vaccination drive set to begin next month, the country surpassed the grim milestone of more than 200,000 deaths caused by the COVID-19 disease.

Hospitals in the country have been reporting a shortage of medical oxygen and beds as a devastating second wave of infections overwhelms the South Asian nation’s underfunded healthcare system.

Even crematoriums are running out of space, with funerals being held in parking lots, and parks doubling up as temporary cremation grounds.

The World Health Organization says a variant of COVID-19 feared to be contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India has been found in at least 17 countries.

The country, which is one of the world’s biggest producers of vaccines, does not yet have the stocks for an estimated 600 million people becoming eligible, on top of continuing efforts to inoculate the elderly and people with other medical conditions.

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India Tops 24 Million COVID-19 Cases As New Variant Spreads Across Globe

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India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised an alarm over the rapid spread of the highly transmissible coronavirus mutant first detected in the country as the official tally of infections crossed 24 million, and 4,000 persons died for the third straight day.

Jairo Mendez, a World Health Organization infectious diseases expert said the Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus has been found in cases in eight countries of the Americas, including Canada and the United States.

Mendez said “These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences” adding that “the only worry is that they spread faster.”

People infected by the variant included travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Caribbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.

The mutant strain has also been detected in Britain, as well as in Singapore.

According to health ministry data, India recorded 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections in the last 24 hours.

Public Health England said the total number of confirmed cases of the variant had more than doubled in the past week to 1,313 across the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “We are anxious about it – it has been spreading,” adding that there would be meetings to discuss what to do. “We’re ruling nothing out.”

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WATCH: WTO Considers COVID-19 Vaccine Patents Rights

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W.H.O. Urges Waiver Of COVID-19 Patent Rules

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Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated its call on manufacturing companies and countries to waive COVID-19 vaccine patent rules to enable the jabs to be produced more widely in countries with low vaccination rates.

W.H.O. director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment that delegates had so far been reluctant to back the proposal at the World Trade Organization put forward by South Africa and India.

The world health body has also said it needs between 35 billion to 45 billion dollars to fund its Covax vaccination programme for low income countries next year.

Meanwhile, American drug firm Moderna has pledged half a billion doses of its vaccine to Covax over this year and next year.

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