156 cr vaccinations later: Inside India’s war against Covid-19


India on Sunday marked the first anniversary of its collective fight against the Covid pandemic as the nation completed one year of vaccination drive against coronavirus.

India set out on the challenging path of vaccinating its massive population against Covid-19 on this day one year ago. Since the journey began, India has administered 90 per cent of the eligible population with the first dose of vaccines and 60 per cent have got their second dose.

Over 156 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the national vaccination drive. The nation battled a two-way war against the vaccine hesitancy and vaccine crisis initially to achieve this feat. India has risen to export the vaccines to other nations from the position of importing it for other epidemics and disease decades back. However, this journey has not been completed without its share of obstructions.

At the time when the second devastating Covid wave hit India snatching away the lives of lakhs, the government was largely criticised for the delay and shortage of Covid vaccines in India. Amid the disastrous second Covid wave, India had to stop the vaccines’ export through WHO initiative ‘Vaccine Maitri’.

India’s vaccination journey

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting with scientists and Indian vaccine manufacturers in the beginning of 2020 to discuss the manufacturing and required funds for ‘Made in India’ vaccine against Covid-19. Later, PM Modi visited the vaccine manufacturing facilities to encourage the scientists on November 20, 2020.

Two Made in India vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — were granted the emergency use authorisation against the Covid pandemic on January 2, 2021. Later, the nationwide vaccination programme was rolled out on January 16, 2021 with the healthcare and frontline workers first in line to get vaccinated. India achieved the milestone of one crore vaccination on February 19, 2021.

From March 1, 2021, vaccination drive began for those above the age of 60 years and those with co-morbidities in the 45-60 year age group. All above the age of 45 years became eligible for Covid vaccination from April 1, 2021. All adults (18+) became eligible for Covid vaccination on May 1, 2021.

India administered the first 25 crores of vaccines on June 25 last year. ICMR launched the first i-drone to deliver the vaccines in hilly areas. India hit the vaccine century with 100 crores of vaccines on October 21, 2021.

The government launched ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ vaccination campaign to achieve 100 per cent first dose coverage on November 3, 2021. The vaccination drive for the adolescent population (15-18 years) began on January 3, 2021. The administration of precautionary dose began for frontline workers and vulnerable people above the age of 60 years from January 10 this year.

In the last one year of India’s journey through the pandemic, around eight Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use in India. These are Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Russia’s Sputnik V, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D, Serum Institute of India’s Covovax and Biological E’s Corbevax. However, Covishield and India’s indigenously developed Covaxin are the two main pillars of India’s vaccination drive.

As the Omicron-led third wave has knocked the country again, the only weapon against Covid — ‘vaccination’ — will continue to play an important role in the battle against the pandemic.

(Avinash Prabhakar can be reached at Avinash.p@ians.in)



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