Officials in India said Thursday that they have delivered 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine, marking a significant milestone for the South Asian country, where the delta form caused its first devastating outbreak earlier this year.
Roughly 75% of India’s total adult population has received at least one dosage, with around 30% having gotten all three doses. The country, which has a population of almost 1.4 billion people, is the second to surpass a billion total doses, following China, which did it in June.
Since the devastating months at the start of the year, when the highly transmissible delta variant, first detected in India a year ago, was infecting hundreds of thousands daily, sending COVID-19 patients into overburdened hospitals and filling cremation grounds, the number of cases has dropped dramatically in India.
In recent months, officials have stepped up the vaccine program, which experts think has helped manage the outbreak. In January, the country began its journey.
Even yet, there is a concerning difference between individuals who have had one shot and those who have been fully vaccinated. At a briefing last week, V K Paul, the chairman of the country’s COVID-19 taskforce, stated that increasing the second dosage is “an essential goal.”
“We’d want to see this figure rise. “Complete coverage is essential,” Paul stated.
India had previously stated that it hoped to vaccinate all eligible people by the end of the year, but experts believe that the current vaccination push will need to pick up in order to achieve this target.
On Thursday, officials intend to commemorate the occasion at vaccination clinics and hospitals, where frontline and health-care workers will be honored. According to local media, the health minister will also release a song and film to honor the feat, and an Indian flag will be raised at the ancient Red Fort in New Delhi.
India, a major vaccine provider, suspended shipments in April due to an increase in domestic cases, and only resumed exports early this month. The administration currently believes that the country’s increasing vaccine supply will be sufficient to meet its international and local responsibilities. Both of the primary suppliers have increased output, with the Serum Institute currently manufacturing approximately 220 million jabs each month and Bharat Biotech about 30 million, according to Paul.
According to experts, the vaccination situation on the ground will need to be monitored on a regular basis. “There can’t be a hard and fast rule – if illnesses spike, they might halt exports till adequate dosages are available,” said K Srinath Reddy, head of the Public Health Foundation of India.
India reported nearly 14,000 new instances of illness on Wednesday. According to the health ministry, active patients account for less than 1% of the overall caseload of more than 34 million, with over 450,000 fatalities.
According to some scientists, serological studies conducted in June and July revealed that over 60% of the population had antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19, lowering the possibility of another large outbreak in the future months.
Even areas where infections were soaring only a few weeks ago, like Kerala on the lush Malabar coast, have witnessed a steady drop.
“There is a sense of relief that India has escaped the worst of the delta variety,” Reddy said, “but this must be balanced by a sense of prudence.” “Even if instances increase, we are unlikely to see the magnitude of the spike sooner – if it happens, it would be rather surprising,” he added.
Life in India has returned to normal in recent months. Markets are bustling, visitors may return after a 19-month absence, and the country is preparing to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
However, there are concerns that this is only a calm before the storm. Even though India has already been hit by the delta variety, things might swiftly spiral out of control if a new variation arises from within or outside the nation.
“When a virus evolves or mutates, it alters the dynamics.” “This has the potential to transform everything,” Paul remarked.