|A huge spike in infections of the Delta variant crippled India in April and May, with hospitals running out of oxygen and mass graves unable to contain the numbers of dead. (Photo by= AP)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] BENGALURU: India on Tuesday (Jun 22) declared a new coronavirus variant to be of concern, and said nearly two dozen cases had been detected in three states, Reuters reported. The variant, identified locally as "Delta plus", was found in 16 cases in the state of Maharashtra, Federal Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told a news conference.
The ministry said Delta plus showed increased transmissibility and advised states to increase testing. On Monday, India vaccinated a record 8.6 million people as it began offering free shots to all adults, but experts doubted it could maintain that pace. "This is clearly not sustainable," Chandrakant Lahariya, an expert in public policy and health systems, told Reuters. With the recent projected vaccine supply for the next few months, the maximum daily achievable rate is 4 to 5 million doses, Lahariya added.
The effort has so far covered about 5.5 percent of the 950 million people eligible, even though India is the world's largest vaccine producer. Particularly in the countryside, where two-thirds of a population of 1.4 billion lives and the healthcare system is often overstretched, the drive has faltered, experts say. Although new infections in India have dropped to their lowest in more than three months, experts say vaccinations should be stepped up because of the transmissibility of new variants.