The Nepal Weekly | June 22, 2021
India has opened up free vaccinations to all adults in an attempt to bolster its inoculation drive, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks off a International Yoga Day on June 21, hailing the practice’s “protective” properties against the virus.
The country’s vaccination drive has significantly slowed in recent months due to a shortage of jabs and hesitancy, even as it battled a vicious surge in cases in April and May that overwhelmed the healthcare system of the country in many states. Case numbers have since fallen sharply, with the country on Monday reporting 53,256 new COVID-19 infections and 1,422 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to a government statement.
The decline in cases has enabled the authorities to relax many restrictions once again, sparking fears of another wave among health experts.
The government had expanded the vaccine rollout to include all adults under 45 on May 1, but states and private hospitals had to procure the shots themselves for the younger age group, leading to confusion and shortages.
Public parks were reopened in Delhi on Monday just in time, but the number of events for Yoga Day was cut back around the country for the second year running due to the pandemic.
Gymnasiums in the capital boycotted the event since they have not been allowed to reopen by the authorities, according to Indian media reports.
International Yoga Day – proposed by Modi and adopted by the UN in 2014 – is observed not only in India but also worldwide on the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day. Throughout the pandemic, India’s government has touted yoga and herbal medicines – sales of which have boomed – to protect and give relief to people infected with the virus.But the evidence is scant, and the claims have faced pushback from India’s doctors, who wore black armbands last month to protest Baba Ramdev, a guru with ties to the Modi administration who has said yoga can cure COVID-19.