India celebrates 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by singing and dancing – .

India celebrates 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by singing and dancing – .

  • India takes milestone after slow start in mid-January
  • Huge disparity between partially and fully vaccinated people

NEW DELHI, Oct.21 (Reuters) – India on Thursday celebrated the milestone of delivering one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with the government promoting the success in song and video even as a recent drop in vaccinations worries healthcare providers.

After a slow start in mid-January, India’s vaccination campaign has covered three-quarters of its 944 million adults with at least one dose but only 31% with two. The government wants all adults to get vaccinated this year.

“India is making history,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and the collective spirit of (1.3 billion) Indians. “

Modi marked the occasion with a visit to a public hospital in New Delhi. The Department of Health announced musical and other programs across the country, as well as special illuminations of national monuments, including a colonial-era prison.

Almost 90% of vaccines administered in India come from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which produces a licensed version of the drug AstraZeneca (AZN.L). SII has more than tripled its capacity since April and can now produce 220 million doses of vaccine per month.

SII has also slowly resumed exports for the first time since April, when the government halted all overseas sales to meet domestic demand as infections soared.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which relies heavily on India for the provisioning of its COVAX global vaccine sharing platform, praised the country for reaching this benchmark.

“India’s progress must be seen in the context of the country’s commitment and commendable efforts to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are accessible globally,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for ‘South East Asia.

India has so far reported 34.1 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 452,000 deaths, most during a second wave of Delta variant infections that swept across the country between April and May.

A “significant number” of people in India missed their second dose on schedule despite adequate supplies, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as new infections fell to their lowest since early March.

Daily injections have averaged 5 million this month, a fifth of September’s peak, although states have record stocks of more than 100 million as domestic production of the AstraZeneca vaccine soars.

Despite the current low number of infections, ministry officials have urged people to get vaccinated quickly, especially as the current festival season means family reunions and mass shopping, increasing the risk of a new wave of infections.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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