As of Monday, India has vaccinated more than sixty lakh people against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.
The country’s immunisation programme, touted as the world’s largest by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, succeeded in inoculating 5,412,270 healthcare workers and 623,390 other frontline workers as of Monday evening. It achieved the distinction of vaccinating so many in the span of 24 days, the fastest country in the world to do so. Similarly, India earlier hit the four million-mark in terms of vaccinations quicker than any other country.
Despite concerns over hesitancy among healthcare workers, eleven states and union territories have succeeded in vaccinating more than 65 percent of registered healthcare workers. The states and union territories in question include Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Tripura. Some states and union territories, however, did not vaccinate as many healthcare workers with Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Puducherry, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu not vaccinating more than forty percent of their healthcare workers.
India has ordered 14.5 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines as its inoculation campaign expands. This denotes ten million more shots of the vaccine developed by drugmaker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and 4.5 million of the homegrown vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. Approval is being sought for other vaccines, including Sputnik-V developed in Russia and the candidate developed by Cadila Healthcare. Pfizer, meanwhile, recently withdrew its application for emergency use authorisation in India for the time being.
The country is widely anticipated to be at the forefront of the global vaccination campaign against COVID-19 and has commenced shipping doses to foreign shores. The first cohort of countries to receive vaccines included Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Seychelles. Home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, India is expected to be a crux of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in lower- and middle-income countries amid growing fears over vaccine nationalism shutting out nations at lower levels of economic development from obtaining vaccines to combat their respective outbreaks.