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India administers 100 crore coronavirus vaccine doses in less than 10 months: Here is how ‘Sarve Santu Niramaya’ manifested itself

On October 21, India crossed the monumental milestone of 100 crore-mark for cumulative vaccination. For a country that took over 32 years to be completely vaccinated against Polio, this accomplishment holds special significance.

India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage on October 21 crossed an important milestone of the 100 crore mark. With this, India has become the second country after China to have administered over 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to its population. 

As per CoWin platform, India administered over 14 lakh doses of vaccines on Thursday, October 20, crossing the 100 crore mark (Till 9:50 AM). The total doses of vaccines administered so far stands at 1,00,00,30,500 (at 9:50 AM). 

The milestone is significantly momentous, given that it took less than 10 months for the country to dispense over 100 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But reaching this milestone was not easy as it seems. It was fraught with unexpected difficulties and daunting challenges. Indeed, India’s vaccination campaign had hit several roadblocks during its course, often weakening the pace of vaccination but not the resolve of the central government to inoculate its people against an intractable contagion that is prone to chronic mutations. 

As India administers 100 crore vaccine doses, here is how India kickstarted it vaccination campaign on January 16, 2021

India kickstarted its vaccination campaign with much fanfare on January 16, 2021, after the Drugs General Controller of India gave its emergency use authorisation to two indigenously made vaccines—Covaxin and Covishield. 

“We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said at the launch of India’s vaccination campaign. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumors about the safety of the vaccines.”

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in India starting January 16 prioritised the healthcare workers and the frontline workers who were estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.

The start of the inoculation drive was expectedly cautious and progressive, given that the government had the Herculean task of disabusing people out of their skepticism towards the side-effects of the vaccines as well as expanding the vaccine production capacity of the country. 

India launches “Vaccine Maitri” initiative to help countries stave off COVID-19

With the pandemic raging uncontrollably across the globe, PM Modi was also conscious of India’s responsibility towards the world. India is known for being the pharmacy of the world and as COVID-19 flared up in almost every country around the world looked up to India for help. PM Modi did not disappoint them and vowed to fortify them in their fight against COVID-19 with Indian-made vaccines. 

The Indian government launched “Vaccine Maitri” initiative, a humanitarian initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world. Through this initiative, the government had delivered around 66.3 million doses of vaccines to 95 countries till May 9, 2021, when it had to halt the initiative owing to a ravaging second wave of coronavirus back home. 

Initial hiccups faced in the vaccination campaign, compounded by the opposition’s penchant for promoting vaccine hesitancy

The Centre’s endeavour to persuade people into joining the vaccination drive was compounded by vaccine hesitancy promoted by several opposition leaders and conspiracy theorists, who alleged that vaccines were hastily manufactured and not thoroughly tested before being administered to the population. 

Congress leaders, in particular, spearheaded the campaign to discredit the vaccines made in India. Many of them raised questions on the authenticity of the trial data of the vaccines while others alleged that the vaccines were not rigorously tested before being given the emergency approval. Congress supporters and leaders are also partook in this misinformation campaign, raising doubts over the ingredients of the vaccines and fuelling apprehension among gullible people.

These unwarranted insinuations and allegations naturally sowed seeds of doubts among people regarding the safety of vaccines and served as a setback for the country’s fledgling vaccination campaign.

Despite opposition’s attempt at sabotage, India’s vaccination campaign gathered momentum

However, the authorities remained undaunted by the snags encountered on their way to tackle the scourge of COVID-19, and buckled down on the task of educating people and dispelling unfounded notions of vaccine hesitancy among people. It launched various campaigns to allay fears and inform people about the benefits of taking vaccines.

On March 1, 2021, India begun inoculating its elderly citizens against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the second phase of the world’s largest vaccination drive. In this phase, people above the age of 60 years and those above 45 years who were in the high-risk category were administered the jab.

The authorities came up with the latest version of the Co-Win application, which forms the backbone of India’s immunisation campaign, and threw it open for people to register themselves for vaccination. Citizens were able to register and book an appointment for getting the vaccine, anytime and anywhere, using the Co-Win 2.0 portal or through other IT applications such as Arogya Setu, etc. For those who were not tech savvy, they could get themselves registered through rudimentary means or simply by walking in at vaccination centres to get themselves inoculated. 

As more and more people became eligible to take vaccines, there was enormous pressure on the vaccine manufacturers to expand their capacities in a swift manner to cater to the growing demand of vaccines. 

Vaccination drive hits snags amidst opposition’s stubbornness to wrest control of procurement and devastation caused by the second wave of coronavirus outbreak

Even as India was facing supply constraints of COVID-19 vaccines, the opposition leaders, most notably Congress politicians, continued raising aspersions on the efficacy of the vaccines and nitpicking over the vaccine procurement mechanism. They asked for “greater say” in vaccine procurement and asked the Centre to decentralise the vaccination drive. 

The Centre obliged and allowed states to procure vaccines from the international market on their own. During this time, India’s vaccination campaign took a nosedive as states prepared tenders to bid for vaccines from abroad. Incidentally, around the same time, somewhere between April and May 2021, a devastating second wave of coronavirus outbreak swept the country. 

Hospitals in many parts of the country were filled to capacity, with the healthcare workers stretched thin and COVID-19 medicines and oxygen supplies running short. As the deadly wave of COVID-19 outbreak hurtled through the country, the administration shifted their focus on tackling the task at hand—to equip hospitals with necessary equipment and medicines needed to ward off COVID-19. 

Simultaneously, the state governments were dealt with a rude awakening that their individual efforts to procure vaccines were not eliciting the desired result. Vaccine manufacturers across the world turned them down saying that they only dealt with federal governments, and not with state governments. As a consequence, they grudgingly asked the Centre to once again take control of the vaccination campaign. 

India’s inoculation resumes in earnest as Centre takes back control of country’s vaccination

In the first week of June 2021, PM Modi busted opposition propaganda around vaccine announced taking back control of vaccination from states and free vaccines for everyone above the age of 18 starting June 21. 

“The Centre is taking back total control of vaccination now. It will take over the 25 per cent doses assigned to states and this will be implemented in the next two weeks. From June 21 (International Day of Yoga), the Centre will provide free vaccines to states,” PM Modi announced in an address to the nation. 

With Centre in charge of country’s vaccination, the inoculation campaign resumed in earnest. By this time, Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had sufficiently expanded their vaccine production capacity, thereby enabling them to largely bridge the demand-supply disparity. The Centre also sought supplies of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine to augment the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

On August 6, 2021, India crossed the 50 crore mark for cumulative vaccinations. The fact that India’s vaccination campaign was undergoing at a breakneck pace could be gauged by the fact that it took just 20 days for India to reach from 40 crore doses administered to 50 crores. India achieved the 10 crore doses milestone within 85 days, went from 10 crore to 20 crore in 45 days, from 20 crore to 30 crore in 29 days and from 30 crore to 40 crore in 24 days. 

19 days after crossing the 50 crore mark, India’s vaccination campaign touched the milestone of 60 crore vaccine doses. The reducing number of days to achieve the 10-crore vaccine dose milestone demonstrates that India’s inoculation drive was on the right path to vaccinate its gargantuan population and suppress the subsequent waves of coronavirus outbreak.

In the same month, on August 27, India created a record by jabbing more than 1 crore doses in a single day. Then on August 31, India bettered her previous record by administering more than 1.4 crore vaccine doses. A couple of weeks later, India stunned the world with an unprecedented milestone— jabbing over 2 crore vaccines doses in a single day, the highest so far and shattering all previous records of single-day vaccinations. 

The achievement came on the occasion of the 71st birthday of Prime Minister Modi. Just before midnight, September 17, India managed to jab 2.5 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines in a single day. Since then, the vaccinations are taking at a brisk pace, rapidly moving towards PM Modi and the government’s stated goal of completing the inoculation of the entire country by December 31. 

As India administers 100-crore vaccine doses, it sets her eyes on achieving 100 per cent inoculation of her population

On October 21, India crossed the monumental milestone of 100 crore-mark for cumulative vaccination. For a country that took over 32 years to be completely vaccinated against Polio, this accomplishment holds special significance. In less than 10 months since the start of the vaccination programme, India has managed to vaccinate over 72 per cent of her population with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Another feather in the cap is the fact that an overwhelming percentage of vaccinations have been done with made in India vaccines. 

A day before the start of India’s ambitious vaccination drive, on January 15, as PM Modi kicked off the vaccine roll-out with a click of a button, a video message played the Sanskrit chant – Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramaya – (All be happy, All be free of illness). In just under 10 months, this message has manifested itself in all its glory as India completes the administration of 100 crore vaccine doses and sets her eyes on attaining the next milestone— 100 per cent vaccination of her population against the Chinese coronavirus.

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Jinit Jain
Jinit Jain
Writer. Learner. Cricket Enthusiast.

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