India crossed a major milestone on Thursday when the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine doses administered in the country crossed the 100 crore (1 billion) mark. The milestone was achieved half an hour after 10am.
The number is twice the number of vaccines administered in the United States, five times that of Japan, nine times that of Germany and 10 times the number of vaccine doses administered in France, the government said in a presentation hailing the 'vaccine century'.
It said that 75 per cent of the eligible population has taken the first dose and eight states and union territories (UTs) - Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Goa and Lakhshadweep - have achieved 100 per cent first dose coverage. It also said that four states and UTs have more than 90 per cent coverage of the first dose.
It took just nine months for the country to cross the historic figure. The government has planned a number of events to mark the occasion, including launching of a song and display of the country's largest tricolour at the Red Fort in Delhi.
After the billionth dose was administered, the Centre recounted the journey to 100 crore vaccine doses in the presentation, which listed the milestones crossed by the nationwide vaccination programme since its launch on January 16, 2021. It said that CoWIN - the digital platform being used for keeping records of vaccination - has so far registered 76 crore beneficiaries. It also said that India used drones for the first time to deliver vaccines to remote corners of the country.
The government said that the first 10 crore (100 million) doses were administered in just 85 days of the launch of the vaccination drive.
The inoculation programme has been speeding up since its launch, recording 25 million vaccinations in a day on September 17 (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday), which translated to 15.62 lakh doses per hour, or 26,000 doses per minute or 434 doses every second.
It also said that this is the fastest vaccination drive ever, comparing the 1 billion milestone with polio and tuberculosis (TB) drives. While one billion doses of Covid vaccine were administered in just nine months, it took 20 years for the polio drive (1994-2014) and 32 years for TB vaccination (1989 and still ongoing) to cross the milestone.
The government release further said that the Covid vaccine is the fastest to be introduced for inoculation - it was developed in 2020 and implemented in the starting of 2021. Others like BCG, Hepatitis-B and measles vaccines took decades before they were introduced.
Other achievements include introduction of two made in India vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin - within 11 months of the discovery of the first case in the country and fastest ever approvals granted for the vaccines.
Only China has administered a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines till now (and also has a population of more than one billion). It crossed the milestone in June.
Despite the high number of Covid-19 vaccination, the opposition parties have questioned the government about how it can fulfill its promise of administering both doses of the vaccine to all the eligible adults in the country by December 31. The Congress said the number of eligible adults is 95 crore and there's still a long way to go before all of them receive both the doses of the vaccine.