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India’s Modi says country must prioritise COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday (April 8) the country must prioritise the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to help contain a record surge in cases.

Modi made the comment during a video conference meeting with chief ministers of states.

“We won’t get the result by keeping vaccines confined to one state,” he argued.

Indian states, including hardest-hit Maharashtra, have been complaining of vaccine shortages and demanding inoculations be expanded to younger people.

Several COVID-19 vaccination centres have were shutting early and turning people away as supplies ran out. Odisha state said it had closed half its vaccination sites.

However, India’s health minister said on Thursday the the country had more than 43 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in stock or in the pipeline.

India has so far administered more than 90 million doses.

The country reported a record-high 126,789 new COVID-19 cases, health ministry data showed on Thursday. Deaths rose by 685, taking the tally to 166,862, the data showed.

India’s overall caseload reached 12.9 million, the third-most affected globally, behind the United States and Brazil.

The spike, much faster than last year’s first wave, has caught authorities by surprise. The government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks as shops and offices have reopened.

(Production: Lucy Marks, Liliana Ciobanu)

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