The government yesterday started administering the second dose of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine amid a steep rise in deaths and infections.
A total of 81,323 people received their second shot of the two-dose vaccine, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Besides, another 14,804 people got the first jab, taking the total number of first-dose recipients to 55,83,507.
Experts say the health emergency can turn from bad to worse anytime due to the continued relaxation of the restrictions imposed from April 5 to 11.
In the 24 hours preceding 8:00am yesterday, the DGHS reported 74 deaths -- the highest daily casualty since the first cases were detected on March 8 last year. It took the total confirmed death toll to 9,521.
The DGHS also reported 6,854 new cases yesterday, raising the number of active cases to 91,581. The positivity rate in that period was 20.65 percent, slightly lower than the previous day's positivity rate of 22.02 percent.
Prof Ridwanur Rahman, an infectious disease specialist, however said the daily death count hardly reflected the real picture.
"Around 60 percent of the patients dying in the hospitals dedicated for Covid-19 treatment were not tested. The deaths are not counted. The real picture might be more alarming," Prof Ridwanur Rahman told The Daily Star yesterday.
"We are now testing roughly 35,000 people every day. If the number of tests doubled, we would have gotten about twice as many new cases and deaths."
According to the DGHS data, 451 patients were being treated in Intensive Care Units and 4,968 in general beds at the Covid-19 dedicated hospitals across the country.
Since the second week of March, the daily numbers have frequently been breaking records.
On Tuesday, 66 deaths were recorded -- the highest till it was surpassed by yesterday's count.
Meanwhile, British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has served a legal notice to Serum Institute of India over delays in shipment of the vaccine.
"AstraZeneca has sent us a legal notice and the Indian government is also aware of that. I cannot comment on the legal notice as it is confidential, but we are examining all avenues to amicably manage and resolve legal disputes over contractual obligations that Serum Institute is not able to fulfil due to its prioritisation of Indian supplies. Everyone has been very understanding so far. The government is evaluating what it can do to resolve the issue," NDTV yesterday quoted Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla as saying.
The CEO earlier said Serum's production capacity to manufacture Covishield -- one of the two vaccines being administered in India -- was "very stressed" amid pressures from soaring cases in the country.
"The globe needs this vaccine and we are prioritising the needs of India at the moment and we are still short of being able to supply... to every Indian that needs it," Poonawalla had said.
However, the Indian government yesterday said there was no ban on export of Covid-19 vaccines made in the country but that the supply of the doses would continue taking into account India's domestic requirement, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
"We have already said that the supply of vaccines will continue taking into account our domestic requirement," Arindam Bagchi, spokesman of India's external affairs ministry, told the weekly media briefing in reply to a series of questions on the issue of India's Vaccine Maitri policy.
"Let me reiterate that there is no ban on the export of vaccine and a visit to the MEA's website on the supply of made-in-India vaccine abroad would give you a clear idea of that. The supply position is updated from time to time," he said.
To a question about AstraZeneca sending a legal notice to Serum, the MEA spokesman said "this is a question that should be directed at the company itself."