At least 50 per cent of India's eligible population, roughly over 450 million citizens, have been inoculated with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, federal health minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced on Thursday.
"India achieves unprecedented milestone! 50 per cent of the eligible population inoculated with the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Keep it up India. Let us fight corona," Mr Mandaviya tweeted.
According to data available at the government's vaccination website "Co-Win" as of Friday, the country has administered 4,73,352,535 first doses and 1,38,198,072 second doses of the vaccine.
The government aims to vaccinate all its adult population, an estimated 800 million people, by the end of this year. However, to put numbers in perspective, only 15 per cent of the country eligible population have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
India had rolled out its vaccination drive on 16 January prioritising healthcare workers. However, vaccination for all above the age of 18 began on 1 April.
India has been administering three vaccines — Covishield made in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech, and Russia's Sputnik V.
The government has also authorised Mumbai city-based pharmaceutical company Cipla to import Moderna’s vaccine for emergency usage. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine has been given emergency use approval, but it is yet to reach India.
Although India has been one of the largest vaccine makers in the world, it has been struggling to meet its domestic demand due to a shortage of production. Several state governments have pointed their fingers at prime minister Narendra Modi’s government for lack of supply.
After a steep fall in the months of April and May, India's vaccination drive gained momentum after mid-June. During the same time, to boost its vaccination process, the federal government revised its policy to provide free jabs to eligible citizens.
After a catastrophic second wave hit India between April to June due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the virus, the country is bracing itself for the third bout.
As per official data, India’s Covid-19 tally stands at 32,603,188 with 436,861 related deaths.