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COVID: India administers 1 billion vaccine doses

October 21, 2021

India is the second country to reach the milestone figure, after China did so in June. However, officials are worried over a gap between first and second doses.

People wait at a vaccination center in Ajmer, Rajasthan
Around 75% of India's eligible population have received at least one doseImage: Himanshu Sharma/abaca/picture alliance

India has administered 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, officials said on Thursday. The new figure marks a milestone for the South Asian country, where the delta variant fueled a devastating wave of the virus earlier this year.

Around 75% of India's total eligible population have received at least one dose, while nearly 30% have received both shots.

The country, which has a population of 1.4 billion people, is the second to distribute more than a billion doses, after China did so in June.

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Decrease in infections

The number of infections has sharply decreased since the months at the start of the year when the highly transmissible delta variant, first detected in the country a year ago, was infecting hundreds of thousands of people daily. 

The surge overwhelmed India's healthcare system and filled cremation grounds. 

Although the vaccination campaign has helped control the outbreak, officials are still worried about a gap between those who have received the first and second shots.

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'Complete coverage is critical'

Ramping up the second dose is "an important priority," said V K Paul, the head of the country's COVID taskforce, last week. 

"We would like to see this number go up. Complete coverage is absolutely critical,'' he said.

India halted exports of vaccines in April, as cases at home surged, and only resumed exports earlier this month. 

On Wednesday, the country confirmed over 14,000 new cases. India has recorded more than 34 million cases and 450,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

lc/sms (Reuters, AP)