Two billion Covid vaccine doses given in India, government says

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India’s health ministry on Sunday said 2 billion Covid vaccine doses have been administered across the nation in 18 months.

At least 55 million booster doses were among the 2 billion jabs administered in India, according to the government’s vaccine tracking site Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network.

The announcement comes amid a spike in new Covid cases as the country recorded 20,528 infections in the past 24 hours – the highest since 20 February.

The vaccination drive began on 16 January 2021 at a slow pace due to lack of production and apprehension among the public, but picked up speed in the latter part of the year. The country, with a population of 1.35 billion people, had crossed the 1 billion vaccination dose mark in October 2021.

At least 98 per cent of India’s adult population has received at least one dose, while 90 per cent have been completely vaccinated, claims the health ministry.

Nearly 80 per cent of the inoculations have been the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is known by Covishield in India, while others include domestically developed Covaxin and Corbevax, and Russia’s Sputnik V.

Prime minister Narendra Modi celebrated the landmark by congratulating Indians. “India creates history again,” he tweeted.

“Proud of those who contributed to making India’s vaccination drive unparalleled in scale and speed.”

Mr Modi has faced heavy criticism from the opposition for mishandling the pandemic and allegedly concealing the actual number of deaths due to the disease.

During the second wave of Covid last summer, thousands were seen scrambling for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds, as crematoriums overflowed with dead bodies.

Hundreds of corpses were found floating in the river Ganges and discovered buried along its banks in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Modi administration claims the nation has officially recorded 525,709 deaths since the onset of the pandemic. However, the World Health Organisation in its report suggested India underreported its deaths by some 3.5 million.

Delhi refuted the report, objecting to the methodology adopted to conduct the exercise.

India’s current active caseload, which stands at 143,449, makes up for 0.33 per cent of the country’s total positive cases.

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