India achieved a major milestone on July 17 when its cumulative Covid-19 vaccination coverage crossed the 200-crore mark, 18 months after vaccinations began in the country on January 16 last year. It took 277 days to reach the earlier milestone of 100-crore doses. On September 17 last year, 2.5 crore vaccine doses were administered in a single day, the highest so far.
The two billionth dose was administered at 12.16 pm on July 17, a moment representing a key milestone in the country’s coronavirus vaccination drive that navigated massive challenges of supply, scale and coordination.
“India creates history again! Congrats to all Indians on crossing the special figure of 200 crore (two billion) vaccine doses. Proud of those who contributed to making India’s vaccination drive unparalleled in scale and speed. This has strengthened the global fight against Covid-19,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two-billionth dose came 547 days after the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine was administered. If split into equal numbers of 500 million, the latest half-billion doses were given over 191 days, significantly longer than the 78 days in which an equal number of shots were delivered before that.
Among adults, 98 per cent of the eligible population has now had one dose, while 90 per cent have taken both their doses. In booster doses, however, the numbers are far less impressive: only 6 per cent of all adults who can now take a third shot have gotten it.
In absolute numbers, India’s two billion doses are only second to China’s 3.41 billion doses. The other top countries, in order of the maximum doses delivered, are United States, Brazil, Indonesia and Japan, according to University of Oxford’s Our World in Data Covid-19 vaccination tracker.
India currently is reporting nearly 20,000 new Covid cases in a day, with states such as Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha contributing most of the new cases. But hospitalisation and fatality rates have remained under control.
At least 85 per cent of the doses administered have been of Covishield (the brand name under which Punebased Serum Institute of India has been manufacturing the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca), 10 per cent doses have been of Covaxin (developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research), and the remaining 5 per cent shots are of the Russia-made Sputnik V, Hyderabadbased Biological E’s Corbevax, and Serum Institute of India’s second Covid vaccine, Covovax.
According to the Co-WIN dashboard, an average of 32,827 vaccination centres were being used, of which 31,685 are run by the Government. Beginning July 15, the government announced that vaccines will be free for people at centres run by it for the next 75 days as part of the Government’s Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav programme.
“Several systematic interventions were also carried out in ensuring capacity building for carrying out this nationwide exercise. Existing supply chain for storage and transport of Covid-19 vaccines was leveraged and strengthened and effective monitoring of vaccine distribution and assured availability and efficient utilisation of vaccines and syringes was ensured at all times,” said the Health Ministry in a statement.
VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, said: “India is perhaps the only country that started distributing Covid vaccine to other countries at the start of its own programme. The PM mentioned this early on that India’s vaccines are meant not just for the country but to benefit all. And that’s why India started providing vaccines also to other countries even when it had just started vaccinating its own people.”
According to officials, the Government is now focusing on promoting booster doses since the uptake has been low. The Health Ministry has revived the door-to-door campaign known as ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ to reach out to those who are yet to take the vaccine, have not completed the primary course, or are due for their booster dose.