India in grip of second wave as sluggish vaccination programme slows progress

  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

Coronavirus cases in India have topped 60,000 for the first time in almost six months. The country’s massive vaccination programme is underway, but just 53 million Indians out of a population of 1.4 billion have been vaccinated so far. Progress is slow, and the Covid jab is not being doled out fast enough to check the climb in coronavirus cases. Dr Komal Sherawat said: “As a percentage of the total population, the Indian coverage stills remains relatively low, compared to some of the high incidence countries globally. “So while India has not been slow, in the initiation of it, India will be planning to scale it up faster.” A sluggish vaccine programme is accompanied by a lapse in precautions. Gatherings at the Ganges are curtailed, but many of the country’s faithful still flock to the sacred waters.

Indians flock to the sacred waters of the Ganges.

Holy men making the riverbank pilgrimage have faith in the country’s vaccination programme as well as the Hindu Gods. One pilgrim said: “Covid is not a scenario that’s going to be there for weeks or months, it’s going to take years so one cannot close their lives, we have to start understanding and start living with Covid with due precautions.”

Experts fear that India’s second wave might not peak for another month, and have urged people to be cautious as the country remains in a fragile place.

Dr Komal Sherawat said: "We are doing our level best, but we are appealing to the citizens also, this is their responsibility also apart from the health department, they must follow the Covid appropriate behaviour."