India has more than 10 million confirmed corona virus cases, with new infections dropping to a three-month low as the country prepares for the biggest COVID-19 vaccine in the new year.
Additional cases dropped to 25,152 in the last 24 hours from a high of nearly 100,000 in mid-September. The epidemic has affected nearly 1 percent of India’s more than 1.3 billion people, the worst affected in the United States.
The health ministry also recorded 347 deaths in the last 24 hours on Saturday, bringing the total to 145,136.
Government health expert Dr Randeep Gularia said India was keeping its fingers crossed as cases would increase in the winter months.
“If we can sustain our declining trend for the next two or three months, we can start a vaccination program and move away from the epidemic,” Gularia told the Associated Press.
India has some of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world, and the country has five vaccine candidates under various phase tests.
The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, is licensed to produce AstroGeneca displays at Oxford University. India’s Bharat Biotech vaccine is also a leading runner and both vaccines are expected to get approval for emergency use within a few weeks, Gularia said.
India aims to vaccinate 250 million people by July 2021. The government plans to receive 450 million to 500 million doses, the health ministry said.
The first group consists of health care and front line staff. The second group to receive the Covit 19 vaccine are those over 50 and under 50 who have comorbid conditions.
The pace of new cases has slowed. It took 12 days for India to get 5 million to 6 million cases, but 22 days were 8 million to 9 million and 29 days 10 million.
Following a record 23.9 per cent decline in the previous three months, India’s economy contracted by 7.5 per cent in the July-September quarter, pushing the country into recession for the first time in history. As millions have become unemployed, the Indian government continues to ease the strict locking restrictions imposed at the end of March.
Numerous offices, shops, businesses, liquor stores, bars and restaurants have reopened. Prohibited domestic and international departure flights are operated with train services. Schools are closed.