India: PM Modi congratulates country on 1 billion Covid-19 jab milestone

Modi hails breakthrough as a triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of citizens

India reached a major milestone in its war against the pandemic on Thursday with the cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses, crossing the billion-mark.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited a hospital in Delhi to mark the milestone, described it “as the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit” of the 1.3 billion people in the country.

“India scripts history,” tweeted Modi. “We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of 130 crore Indians. Congrats India on crossing 100 crore vaccinations. Gratitude to our doctors, nurses and all those who worked to achieve this feat. #VaccineCentury” (100 crore = 1 billion)

Interestingly, the ‘100 crore vaccination milestone’ was welcomed by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

“This is a matter of pride for all Indians,” he tweeted. “Let’s give the Government credit. After severe mismanagement of the second #Covid wave & botching the vaccination orders that might have prevented it, Govt has now partly redeemed itself. It remains accountable for its earlier failures.”

Many world leaders also welcomed the announcement.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated Modi, “the scientists, health workers and people of India” for their efforts to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19 “and achieve #VaccinEquity targets.”

Top government leader Amitabh Kant, who is the chief executive of Niti Aayog, said the potential third wave has been warded off because of the rapid pace of the vaccination programme.

According to government sources, 75 per cent of India’s eligible adult population have been administered at least the first dose of the vaccine, while 31 per cent have received both the doses.

India’s vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16, covering healthcare and frontline workers.

The second phase, covering those aged above 60 and people with specified co-morbid conditions in the 45-plus group, was launched from March 1. A month later, the government extended it to all above 45.

And from May 1, the vaccination scheme was extended covering all above 18.

With the 1 billion cumulative vaccine doses, India ranks next to only China (which has a record 2.2 billion doses to its credit). It has administered double the number of vaccines than that of the US, five times that of Japan, nine times that of Germany and 10 times that of France, according to official figures.

According to government figures, eight states and union territories have recorded 100 per cent first dose coverage.

The government claimed that for the first time India used drones to deliver vaccines to remote corners.

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