INDIA launched a new drive to combat Covid by vaccinating a record eight million people in just ONE DAY.
Today’s push was part of a campaign to inoculate all adults for free amid claims a chaotic rollout had worsened a second wave costing hundreds of thousands of lives.
India announced it had vaccinated more than eight million people in one dayCredit: AFP
India – which has a population of 1.3bn – is one of the largest vaccine makers in the world but its own jab drive has been moving at a snail’s pace.
So far it has only fully vaccinated just over five per cent of the total eligible population and vaccine shortages are common in many states.
And to date nearly 30m people have been struck down with Covid in the vast country with 388,000 dying.
Indian PM Narendra Modi has pledged his government would buy 75 per cent of all vaccines from drug makers and distribute them for free to states.
However, the remaining 22 per cent of vaccines are still set aside for procurement by private hospitals, reports the BBC.
These vaccinations are not free – and have to be paid for.
The federal government has fixed prices for the three approved vaccines at 780 rupees (£7.50) for Covishield, 1,145 rupees (£11) for Sputnik V, and 1,410 rupees (£13.60) for Covaxin.
India’s previous record of 4.5 million doses was on April 5, followed by a sharp decline with average daily inoculation falling below three million.
“Today’s record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening. The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight COVID-19,” Modi wrote in a tweet, as he thanked the front-line workers who enabled citizens to get vaccinated.
Experts have said India needs to administer 10 million doses a day to achieve its aim of inoculating 950 million adults by December.
“If supply remains consistent, we will be on course to inoculate most of our population by the end of the year, D N Patil, a senior health official in the country’s richest state of Maharashtra, told Reuters.
Maharashtra has a population of more than 125 million.
Earlier this month, the government said India could have as many as 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available per day in July and August.
India – which has a population of 1.3bn – is one of the world’s largest vaccine makersCredit: AFP
However, until now its own jab drive has been moving at a snail’s paceCredit: AFP
Government adviser Vinod Kumar Paul said on Monday that administering 10 million shots per day was not a “set goal”.
“As the ramping up takes place, speed of implementation should also ramp up and that would lead to a certain number,” Paul said in an interview with CNBC-TV18 channel.
“There is a demonstration by the system of how much can be done on a given day, at least this is something that should become obvious by the end of the day.”
The country is using domestically made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and Indian company Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
The government is attempting to secure foreign vaccines such as Pfizer’s and has waived strict rules to allow quicker imports.
Over the last 24 hours, India reported 53,256 new cases, the lowest since March 24. Infections hit a peak of about 400,000 a day in May and deaths soared to around 170,000 in April-May.
Since May, widespread vaccine shortages have worsened the divide between urban and rural areas, as many younger city-dwellers turned to private hospitals.
“It marks the beginning of the end of adversities related to COVID-19 in the country,” Giridhara Babu, a member of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the country’s main health research agency, told Reuters.
Experts warn that millions remain vulnerable to infection, particularly in the countryside where two-thirds of the population lives. And a swift reopening of cities could complicate mass immunisation efforts.