India crossed the 50-crore mark of administrating COVID-19 vaccination doses on Friday, August 6. This is a considerable achievement, given the grave state the country was in, reporting thousands of cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media lauding the country's fight against the contagious virus and said it had received a 'strong impetus'.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya conveyed his gratitude to the healthcare workers and the citizens for their cooperation and zeal. The minister posted a graphical image illustrating the pace of the vaccination drive that has been speeding up.
In figures, the country achieved a 10-crore doses mark within 85 days of the drive that began in January, which further increased 20 crores in the next 45 days. Nearly 30 crore doses were completed by the next 29 days, and 40 crores in 24 days. The milestone was crossed in the next 20 days, the minister added.
From 'Shortage Of Vaccines' To 'Hesitancy'
The vaccination drive began on January 16, with healthcare and frontline workers being the first to be inoculated in the initial phase. The second phase covered people aged over 60 years and between 45 - 60 years.
After completing two phases, the vaccinations were opened for everyone above the age of 45 years.
Amid the drive, the country was hit by the deadly second wave for coronavirus, resulting in thousands of cases and dozens of deaths every day, with people yearning for oxygen cylinders, ICU beds, and other medical equipment. The wave also showed us how cripple our healthcare system is.
Out Of Stock: Amid the devastating wave, the country faced a shortage of vaccines. This was major, given that India is one of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers. The shortage existed even after the country stopped the exports in March to focus on domestic inoculations. Government vaccine policy, its efforts to mitigate the situation were also questioned. Speaking to CNBC, Dr Chandrakant Lahariya said this was primarily the outcome of limited supply and a vaccination policy not mindful of supplies.
Hesitancy: Another issue the country faced was the people's hesitancy to get the vaccine due to misinformation and lack of knowledge. It was prevalent among senior citizens, who are reportedly at high risk for developing severe virus forms.
A survey commissioned by the central government noted that primary reasons were its safety, efficacy, mistrust in the government and the companies, and appropriate age, apart from lack of awareness.
Fake Vaccines: In June, news of fake drives started emerging, and many of them were reported from Maharashtra, Kolkata and other states, which reported the highest number of COVID cases.
In Maharashtra alone, nine drives were conducted at Kandivali, Malad, two at Borivali, Amboli in Andheri, Khar, Versova, and Parel where as many as 2,000 people received the fake vaccines. Many cases also came to light after residents became suspicious of the certificates they received, which showed different hospital names. The hospitals, when consulted, denied holding any such drive.