The administration of 100 crore vaccine doses is a major milestone for India in its valiant fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The nation has every reason to celebrate this feat, which has been achieved through the joint efforts of Central and state governments, healthcare and frontline workers, scientists and the citizens on the whole. India’s vaccination drive, which commenced on January 16, proceeded at a tardy pace early on, mainly because of vaccine hesitancy and shortage of doses. It took the country as many as 85 days to reach the 10-crore mark. Had the inoculation programme gained momentum in March-April itself, the devastating second wave would have caused far less damage and tens of thousands of lives might have been saved. The contrast is stark: India consumed 203 days to cross the 50-crore mark; it then took just 76 days to go past the 100-crore figure.
While congratulating every Indian for the monumental teamwork, PM Narendra Modi has also sounded a note of caution. He has exhorted people to keep following Covid-appropriate behaviour during the festival season, when overcrowding in public places is a common sight. The complacency that crept in after the first wave abated early this year had contributed largely to the havoc wreaked by the second surge.
Around 75 per cent of India’s adults have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, while over 31 per cent have been administered both shots. One in every four Indian adults is still unvaccinated, at a time when the country is striving to meet the December deadline for inoculating all of them. The Centre will also have to take a call sooner than later on the vaccination of children, besides booster shots for adults. Among the other challenges are ramping up production of Covaxin, which accounts for only 11 per cent of the 100-crore doses given so far, even as the wait for this vaccine’s international recognition is getting longer. The journey ahead may not be easy, but the vaccination gains achieved over the past nine months should give the nation confidence to deal a decisive blow to the virus.
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