On Thursday, India, the second-largest Asian economy, celebrated giving its billion coronavirus vaccine shots, an optimistic milestone for the country where the delta coronavirus variant drove a surge earlier this year, and immature decisions initially held back its vaccination campaign.
According to Our World in Data, around half of the Indian total population (around 1.4 billion) received at least one shot, while almost twenty percent received full vaccination. Many of those doses have come in only the past some months after the rollout suffered in the first half of the year amid COVID vaccine shortages and issues with the system for rolling them out.
India celebrates a remarkable achievement of administering 1 billion #COVID19 vaccine doses today. Congratulations @PMOIndia and @MoHFW_INDIA. UNICEF is proud to partner with Government of India in the fight against #COVID19 @COVIDNewsByMIB #Unite2FightCorona #VaccineCentury pic.twitter.com/0AgO98G0vz
— UNICEF India (@UNICEFIndia) October 21, 2021
Moreover, the campaign’s success is credited with dropping the virus cases in the country since the overwhelming months at the start of the year when India was recording hundreds of thousands of new cases in a single day, and hospitalizations and deaths suddenly touched the peak level. However, experts warn that India must accelerate the delivery of second doses to ensure the pandemic does not burst again.
The nation extended the gap between doses from three to four months to administer more primary shots to nationals at a time of surging infections but limited supply. However, it created a delay in getting Indians fully inoculated. India is using COVID vaccines that require two shots. Accelerating the second shot is an important priority, and the officials would like to see this number go up, the head of the Indian coronavirus taskforce, V.K. Paul.
Indian Companies Resumed Vaccine Exports
When India experienced the surge in cases in April, it halted vaccine exports, but it had a devastating impact on poorer nations that depends explicitly on shots from India. However, after seeing a plunge in the new cases earlier this month, it resumed exporting vaccines to other countries. Modi government is now optimistic that the growing vaccine supply of the country will be enough to cover its domestic and international commitments.
Both of the two major vaccine suppliers of the country accelerated the production, with the Serum Institute of India now producing about two hundred and twenty million shots per month and Baharat Biotech around thirty million, Paul said. Still, health experts say the vaccine situation in the country will need constant review. On Thursday, the nation confirmed over eighteen thousand and four hundred new virus cases and one hundred and sixty deaths – dramatically less than the worst days in May when the death rate beat four thousand.
India Aimed to Vaccinate all Eligible Adults by Year-end
Overall, the nation recorded about thirty-four million infections coronavirus cases and over four hundred fifty thousand deaths, according to the Indian Health Ministry, though those statistics are likely undercounting. Earlier, Indian officials said that it intended to immunize all eligible adult nationals by the year-end, but according to experts, the current pace of vaccinations will need to surge to meet this goal, even though it has already risen significantly.
Though the vaccination campaign began in January, just around 3.5 percent of the total population received full vaccination by mid-June. Nevertheless, India celebrated the achievement of one billion doses with a flourish Thursday – though it is not that surprising since it is the second-most populous country in the world. Whereas the first nation to reach that goal was China, which is the most populous country.
The officials posted billboards across New Delhi to announce the feat with a picture of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Outside the house of a local politician in the capital city, residents gathered to celebrate the achievement. During the last some months, life in India has come back to normal. Local markets buzz with activity and joy, and state officials once again allowed tourists after a nineteenth-month pause, and the nation is gearing up to celebrate the religious festival, Diwali.