EXPLAINER: Why 'world's pharmacy' India is short on shots

EXPLAINER: Why 'world's pharmacy' India is short on shots



NEW DELHI (AP) — Last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the United Nations his country would make enough COVID-19 vaccines “to help all humanity." Now India is struggling to meet its own domestic needs for the shots amid a startling surge of infections.

As the world’s largest maker of vaccines, India always was expected to play a pivotal role in global efforts to immunize against COVID-19. But a mixture of overconfidence, poor planning and bad luck has prevented that from happening.

Here's a look at what went wrong:


Officials in India seemed to have been caught off guard by several things, including the speed at which vaccines were approved for use around the world. India like many other countries had been working under the assumption that vaccines wouldn't be ready for use until mid-2021.

Instead, they started being greenlit in some countries in December — upping the pressure to not only produce but deliver promised shots as soon as possible. India, which approved two vaccines in January, turned out to not be ready for either the eventual demand at home or abroad.

The government's plan had been to vaccinate 300 million of the India's nearly 1.4 billion people by August. But it hadn't actually reserved even close to enough shots to do so. It had just assumed — partly based on projections from the country's vaccine makers — that there would be enough doses to both vaccinate people at home and fulfil promised orders abroad.

There also was little domestic urgency because India's infections had been declining consistently for months. In fact, in January, just days after India kicked off its domestic vaccination campaign and also started exporting shots, Modi declared victory over the pandemic at a virtual gathering of the World Economic...

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