New Delhi: India has administered over two billion COVID vaccination doses, becoming the second country after China to hit the milestone.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday, “This has strengthened the global fight against COVID-19.”
India’s achievement comes amid a rise in Covid cases in several states. The government has asked the states to increase surveillance on the infection. It is also trying to expand the booster dose program across the country.
Last week, India launched a campaign to give all adults a free booster dose – or precautionary dose, as the government calls it – for 75 days. This period marks the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence on 15 August.
Till now, only frontline workers, health workers and people above 60 years were eligible for the free booster dose. Others had to pay for it. The move comes after the country reduced the gap between the second and third vaccine doses from nine to six months.
Hindustan Times newspaper reported last week that 92 per cent of Indians eligible for a booster dose have not yet taken it.
More than 55 million booster doses have been given to date. The campaign was initially open to healthcare, frontline workers, and people above 60 years of age. It was later expanded to all adults.
A vaccine program began in January for 15 to 18-year-olds and in March for 12 to 14-year-olds.
According to India’s health ministry, 98% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, while 90% have been fully vaccinated. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, China has delivered about 3.4 billion vaccine doses.
So far, India has reported around 43.5 million COVID cases, second only to the US, and nearly 525,242 deaths – behind the US and Brazil.
The country recorded 20,528 cases daily in the last 24 hours on Monday, a four-month high.
States like Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have seen a spurt in daily active cases in the past few weeks.