India crossed 2.25 crore Covid vaccinations in a day for the first time today as the government raced to deliver a record on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.
The government had set out today with a target of 2.5 crore vaccinations. China inoculated the most number of people in a day – 2.47 crore – in June.
In the evening, as the country crossed the two crore-mark, the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia office tweeted its congratulations.
“Congratulations India for yet another milestone!” the global health body’s regional arm said, tagging Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and news agency ANI in its tweet.
— WHO South-East Asia (@WHOSEARO) September 17, 2021
The one crore-mark was crossed earlier today, in the afternoon, after which ministers and BJP leaders put out tweets urging more to get their shots.
“On PM @Narendra Modi Ji’s birthday, till 1:30 pm, the country has crossed the mark of 1 crore vaccines, the fastest so far, and we are continuously moving forward. I believe that today we will all make a new record of vaccination and give it as a gift to the prime minister,” Mr Mandaviya tweeted, with the hashtags ‘VaccineSeva’ and ‘HappyBdayModiji’.
Mr Mandaviya was seen in a video celebrating with health workers and distributing sweets.
Thank you all Health Workers.
Well Done India! ???? pic.twitter.com/l7K7R9ZEtm
— Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) September 17, 2021
The government’s tracker showed around 800 vaccinations per second, or around 48,000 in a minute, National Health Authority chief RS Sharma told NDTV this evening as he called today “a historic day” and praised health workers across the country for their resilience.
Top government expert Dr NK Arora also spoke to NDTV, and said that the record number of jabs administered today were the result of “months of sustained efforts”.
“We went from a few thousand to two crore vaccines doses administered in one day. Social mobilisation was key,” Dr Arora said, as he praised the media for playing a role in the effort.
AIIMS (Delhi) chief Dr Randeep Guleria told NDTV that it was imperative to sustain this surge in vaccination numbers; as of Friday morning over 1.2 crore doses needed to be administered per day to reach the target of giving two doses to at least 60 per cent of the population by end-December.
Dr Guleria called on people – particularly those who have yet to get even one dose – to shed ‘vaccine hesitancy’ and get themselves inoculated.
“We need to earmark days in a week (to) aim for high (numbers of) inoculations,” he said.
Government sources said the “top priority is to give 100 per cent first doses in poll-bound states”, referring to state elections next year in as many seven states, including UP, Punjab and Gujarat.
Today’s push to the national vaccination campaign is at the core of the BJP’s three-week celebrations to mark the Prime Minister’s 71st birthday. To achieve its target, the BJP prepped health volunteers “to ensure maximum number of people get their COVID-19 vaccines on the day”.
Senior BJP leaders say the party wants to see the day “recorded in history” as one that saw a record number of Covid vaccines given.
In recent days, India has reported more than one crore Covid shots in a day on three occasions – September 6, August 31 and August 27.
It took 85 days to touch the 10-crore vaccination mark, 45 more days to cross the 20-crore mark and 29 more days to reach the 30-crore mark, according to the health ministry.
Nationwide inoculations started in January, with healthcare and frontline workers the first to get the shots. The drive was extended to all adults from May.