COVID-19: India vaccinates record 8.5 million in a day
Published: 12:32 PM, 22 June 2021
India administered a record 8.5 million doses of covid-19 vaccines on Monday, the first day of a new programme of vaccination. This is the highest single-day number of vaccinations in the world.
Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, the two states administered the highest vaccine doses, at over 1.5 mn and nearly 1.1 mn, respectively.
“Today’s record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening. The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight Covid-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the front-line warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine. Well done India!” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet last evening.
The South Asian country launched a new vaccine drive. The new policy sees the federal government buying Covid-19 jabs from manufacturers and supplying to states.
India is one of the largest vaccine makers in the world but its own vaccination drive has been moving at a slow pace.
It has fully vaccinated just over 5% of the total eligible population so far and shortages persist in many states.
To scale up the vaccination drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced earlier this month that everyone would get "free vaccines" from June 21.
Modi's announcement came in a national address on TV, in which he talked about the history and logistics of vaccine programmes in India.
Under the previous Covid vaccine policy, half of all vaccines produced in India went to the federal government, and the rest were sent to state administrations and private hospitals.
Although the states competed on the open market for the doses of the vaccine for 18-44 age group, recipients were able to get them for free at state government's vaccination centres.
Meanwhile, the federal government was vaccinating frontline workers and those aged above 45 years - also for free.
Under the new policy the federal government will now buy 75% of all vaccines manufactured.
The state governments will receive their vaccines doses for free from the federal government, instead of negotiating directly with manufacturers.
However, it's worth noting that the remaining 25% of vaccines are still set aside for procurement by private hospitals as before.
These vaccinations are not free - and have to be paid for at private hospitals.
The federal government has fixed prices for the three approved vaccines at 780 rupees ($10.7; £7.5) for Covishield, 1,145 rupees ($15.7; £11) for Sputnik V, and 1,410 rupees ($19.3; £13.6) for Covaxin.
India has administered over 276 million vaccine doses since January, that's less than 30% of the eligible adult population.
India's adult population is estimated as being around 950 million.
The vaccine drive picked up pace in early April, with 3.66 million doses administered on 10 April, the highest before June 21.
But that figure then fell by nearly half in mid-May and several states suspended vaccinations for the 18-44 age group due to shortages. Experts say that India failed to order enough vaccines last year to avoid shortages.
The Indian government has pledged to vaccinate all adults by the end of the year, a target many experts say will be difficult to meet.