After the virus killed tens of thousands of people, India’s government threw money at boosting vaccine production, stopped vaccine exports and tossed out cumbersome rules that had made it hard for state governments to get doses and for people to sign up for shots.
By official figures, daily infections have plunged to about 12,000 per day, from about 42,000 four months ago. Deaths, too, have fallen by half, to about 400 per day.
While experts consider India’s statistics on infections and deaths to be a gross undercount, normal life has returned in many parts of the country. Shopping malls are crowded, roads are full of traffic, and children who have been out of school since March 2020 finally returned to classrooms this month.
But with only one-quarter of its vast population fully vaccinated, India remains deeply vulnerable. The possibility that a dangerous variant will emerge remains a concern. The Indian government seems to know that it has a long way to go.
India recently applied for a $2 billion loan with the Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank to buy doses for some 300 million more people. “There is still huge vaccine hesitancy,” said Khobragade, the volunteer. “Now is no time to rest.”
Emily Schmall and Hari Kumar write for The New York Times.