On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 71st birthday, millions of health care workers of India gave him a priceless birthday gift. They set a world record for the fastest single-day Covid vaccination drive. As the clock struck 12 at midnight, more than 2.5 crore (2,50,07,051) vaccination doses were given across the length and breadth of India.
The earlier world record of 2.47 crore single-day vaccination was set by China in June this year. The vaccination number in India on September 17 went up continuously through the day with the cumulative number of doses administered in India to 79.33 crore. India has now crossed Europe in the total number of doses administered so far. The daily vaccinations in India have crossed one crore for the fourth time in the last 30 days.
The speed of vaccination on Friday averaged 15.62 lakh doses per hour, 26,000 doses per minute and 434 doses per second, said Prime Minister Modi in a tweet. Karnataka led the nation administering the highest number of over 26.9 lakh doses on Friday, followed by Bihar with 26.6 lakh doses, UP with over 24.8 lakh doses, Madhya Pradesh with 23.7 lakh doses, and Gujarat with over 20.4 lakh doses.
Hailing this achievement, PM Narendra Modi said: ”Every Indian would be proud of today’s record vaccination numbers. I acknowledge our doctors, innovators, administrators, nurses, health care and all frontline workers who have toiled to make the vaccination drive a success. Let us keep boosting vaccination to defeat Covid-19”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, a staunch critic of Modi, tweeted: ”Looking forward to many more days of 2.1 crore vaccinations. This pace is what our country needs.” Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya described it as “a golden chapter in Indian and world history”. The World Health Organisation’s Southeast Asia regional office tweeted: “Congratulations India for yet another milestone!”.
Overall, India took 85 days to touch the 10-crore mark, 45 more days to cross 20-crore, and 29 more days to reach 30 crore mark. It took 24 more days to reach 40 crore mark, and 20 more days to cross the 50 crore mark, 19 more days to cross the 60 crore, and only 13 days to reach 70 crore mark. The 75-crore mark was crossed on September 13.
India rolled out its vaccination drive on January 16 inoculating health care workers, while vaccination of frontline workers began on February 2. Vaccination drive for people aged over 60 years and for those above 45 years with morbidities, began on March 1. Vaccination of all Indians above age 45 years began on April 1. A vaccination drive for everyone aged above 18 years was launched on May 1.
When Coronavirus spread across India in March last year, nobody dreamed that India could produce its own Covid vaccine. Many people thought the US would lead by producing vaccines, get Americans inoculated and then send vaccine doses to India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed the entire thought process. He personally went to Pune, Gujarat and Hyderabad and encouraged Covid vaccine manufacturers to ramp up production, provided the fullest support from the Centre, and very soon, India had two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – ready for use. Health workers across the length and breadth of India were trained how to keep the vaccines in protected conditions and administer them under strict protocol.
The plan for storing and transporting vaccine vials along with injections was prepared in advance. Healthcare workers were given first priority for inoculation, and you would be surprised to know, many of the healthcare workers, including some doctors and nurses, at that time hesitated. The process went on at a snail’s pace, and gradually it was opened up to the public, with senior citizens given priority.
Rumours were spread in abundance. Some said the vaccines were not prepared without adequate trials. Some political leaders labelled it as the “BJP vaccine”. Some busybodies spread rumours among Muslims that pig fat has been used to manufacture the vaccine.
The result was, in several states, people in villages and small towns, menacingly threatened, and in some cases, beat up healthcare workers who had gone for vaccination drive. Healthcare workers had to run for their lives. Yet, lower-level healthcare workers, particularly ASHA workers, persisted in their efforts to inoculate villagers.
When the deadly second wave of pandemic came in April and May this year, millions were infected with Coronavirus, hospitals ran out of beds, vital medicines and oxygen supply, and bodies of Covid victims piled up in mortuaries, crematoriums and burial grounds. A frantic populace yearned for vaccines. The demand for vaccines suddenly shot up, but the vaccine production rate was limited.
Vaccine production is a complicated process. The manufacturers had not anticipated a sudden hike in demand. State governments were now demanding more and more vaccines, and some stooped to low-level politics. Some non-BJP state governments alleged that the Centre was discriminating between BJP-ruled and non-BJP-ruled states.
By August, vaccine production picked up, and simultaneously, vaccination figures went up. India crossed a daily 1 crore (1.08 crore) vaccination figure on August 27, and 1.41 crore on August 31. The peak of 2.5 crore was reached on Friday. The process still continues and for those who are still sceptic about India’s vaccination capability, I want to cite some facts and figures.
First, there are 175 countries in the world with a total population of less than 2 crore. In other words, the number of Indians vaccinated on Friday surpasses the total population of 175 countries.
Second, by administering doses to 79 crore Indians, India is now Number 1 in the list of countries with a vaccinated population. Even in the list of people who have had double doses, India is still No.1 with 18.8 crore people who have been given double doses. The USA is second with 18 crore Americans having double doses. In the list, there is Brazil with 7.5 crore, Japan 6.5 crore, Germany 5.2 crore, United Kingdom 4.4 crore, France 4.3 crore people who have been administered double doses.
Hence it is not justified to underestimate India’s achievement in Covid vaccination. Vaccines are now available aplenty, and by November, India will have administered 100 crore doses to its people.
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