On October 21, India went all out celebrating the country reaching the1 billion Covid vaccine mark being administered throughout its states.
“India has administered the second-highest number of doses in the world, next only to China, which is said to have given over 2.2 billion doses to its citizens… Nearly 31 per cent of the adult population is now reportedly fully vaccinated while 75 per cent has received their first dose” The Business Standard reported.
Reports say there were about 8.4 million doses delivered daily up until the end of August. This is now around 5 million, with the challenge remaining ensuring everyone gets a second dose of the vaccine in the prescribed delay.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on 22 October, barely 24 hours after the announcement.
“1 billion vaccine jabs is just not a number. It is the reflection of the capacity of this country, this is a new chapter of the country, a country that knows how to achieve huge targets,” the Indian leader said in a televised address.
Nine months after the campaign to vaccinate its citizens for free, the country celebrated this milestone by raising its flag at the iconic Red Fort monument of the capital New Delhi. It also broke into an official song and dance and lit up 100 heritage monuments in the nation’s colours, saffron, white and green.
“The government is now optimistic that the country’s rising vaccine supply will be enough to cover its international and domestic commitments. Both of the two main suppliers have ramped up production, with the Serum Institute of India now producing around 220 million doses a month and Bharat Biotech about 30 million” a government official told the Associated Press.
As at date, India appears to have 3-4 weeks’ worth of vaccine supply. Officials say that the manufacturing rate is also higher than the current consumption. However, the scenario can easily change should the country face anything similar to which it did in the 2nd quarter of this year.
Evidently, all eyes are now on India ensuring its citizens also get their second dose of the Covid vaccine on time. Some states are providing incentives, such as medical kits, to those who have completed their inoculation schedule.
Despite India not having positioned itself among the anti-vax nations, there is what is being termed as ‘hesitancy’ which is still of concern to some states. This explains why in some areas such as the southern state of Tamil Nadu, “around 26 per cent of the eligible people have taken their second dose against the countrywide average of 29 per cent. The state’s health department has said hesitancy and the belief that one dose is enough have kept the numbers low,” The Business Standard explains.
The WHO has felicitated this achievement of the 1 billion Covid vaccine mark and wished that “India’s progress must be viewed in the context of the country’s commendable commitment and efforts to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are accessible globally.”