In India and the world the number of coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly. In the last 24 hours India has recorded more than 126 thousand infections and in the world, there are more than 500 thousand people are tested positive every day in the last seven days. Brazil and India are the new hotspots. There are two factors for the spike in infections. – One, the variant of the virus. Two, the huge global shortage of vaccines. China is appearing as a winner in this situation.
As the vaccine shortage makes countries frantic, they are buying China’s unproven vaccines by millions. As if, China has become — the biggest producer and exporter of Wuhan virus vaccines.
Coronavirus is no longer the same. It is changing and taking many forms and some of these variants are more dangerous. The Wuhan virus had changed more than 12000 times by November 2020. Most of these mutations are unremarkable but some are serious. Experts are tracking four of them.
The first one called the Brazil variant. Scientists call this ‘P1’ It was first recognised in the Amazonian city of Manaus in December 2020. Now it’s the dominant tension in Brazil, not because of the fear that this variant makes a patient more unwell, but the virus is spreading faster.
On Thursday (April 8) Brazil recorded more than four thousand Wuhan virus deaths in a single day.
The next variant is the UK variant. Scientists call it “B1.1.7”. It was first discovered in the UK in September last year. At that time it was seen in just one out of four patients.
By December, almost two-thirds of the new cases in London were of this tension.
Countries started imposing travel bans on the UK. That did not stop the spread. Now the variant is found on all major continents.
Then we have the South Africa variant. This too has spread to a number of countries. Experts believe vaccines are less effective against the South African strain.
And the fourth one is called the ‘Double mutant’. This variant was found in India newly in samples from Maharastra, Delhi and Punjab. This virus is called a double mutant because the variant carries two mutations This allows the virus to confuse the body’s immune system. It could be immune to antibodies.
So even those who have improved might catch the Wuhan virus again. That could also mean weaker immunity from existing vaccines.
So there are four serious mutations of the virus. And all four types have been found in India.
Is that why the cases are shooting up? It can’t be said for sure because Indian authorities are reportedly not testing enough for newer strains. According to a report India has tested less than one per cent of its positive samples for variants.
In comparison, the UK Has tested eight per cent of infections. And 33 per cent in just the last week. So we simply don’t know how the new strains are working in India.
The experts have said so far that the vaccine work against the new strains. But there is a shortage of vaccines.
The EU decided to check vaccine exports for six weeks.
Yesterday, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison complained about supply shortages from Europe.
In America, there is a shortage of the Johnson and Johnson shot. Several cities are supporting for a supply division.
Same with the UK. It has begun using the Moderna vaccine now. That’s because of the out of stock of other shots has dropped to the lowest level this year. There’s a supply crisis at Astrazeneca. It has been caused by producing problems in the company. Astrazeneca had hit a deal with India’s Serum Institute to make the Oxford vaccine here.
So AstraZeneca was relying on the Serum Institute for supplies. Now it has sent a legal notice to its Indian partner. AstraZeneca is blaming the Serum Institute for supply delays. Also complaining of supply delay are some Indian states. They say the two vaccines approved for use in India, that is, the Astrazeneca vaccine or Covishield is not available in enough quantities. The govt of India has already placed a temporary hold on all exports of the vaccine. It says complaints of shortages in India are unproven. The health minister of India shared these figures.
He says there are enough vaccines to go around in India. For the rest of the world though, the shortage is serious.
China knows that governments are frantic. They will increase the production of the vaccine, even if the efficiency is questionable.
And that’s exactly what’s happening. Reports say 70 countries and territories have either approved Chinese shots or struck deals to secure them.
Beijing has even donated shots to 37 countries. China has produced 230 million doses. By March it had exported more than 100 million shots. In comparison, India has exported 63 million doses to 84 countries.
And the European Union has exported 58 million doses. They don’t believe in sharing. They’re busy inoculating their own citizens first.
The result is this, China with unproven shots is leading the exports of Wuhan virus vaccines.