India breaks vaccination record by giving ‘birthday gift’ to Modi

India delivered over 22.6 million doses on Friday, its one-day record is thrice the previous month’s average

New Delhi, Sep 17: India on Friday delivered a record 22.6 million vaccinations, tripling the average daily total during the previous month, as some states organized special immunization drives on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.

The health minister called the vaccine milestone a birthday gift for Modi, who turned 71, and was heavily criticized for India’s dramatic rise in infections and deaths in April and May.

“Today’s record vaccination numbers will make every Indian proud,” Modi said on Twitter. “Let us continue to promote vaccination to defeat COVID-19.”

With a daily average of 7 million doses over the past 30 days, India’s previous vaccination peak reached 14.1 million on August 31.

Due to the rapid increase in the production of AstraZeneca, shot down by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, there has been an increase in vaccination in the past few weeks.

A government source said on condition of anonymity that SII will supply 200 million doses to India’s immunization program this month, compared to around 150 million last month.

In addition, Bharat Biotech will supply 35 million doses of Covaxin this month, while Cadila Healthcare will join the vaccination campaign next month by selling 10 million doses of its COVID-19 DNA vaccine.

The source said vaccination of Indians remains a priority for now, although the country will eventually become a major supplier of affordable shots to the world. India, which stopped exporting the COVID-19 vaccine in April, now has the capacity to produce over 2 billion doses a year.

The country of 1.35 billion people has given more than 792 million doses, the most after China.

India has given at least one dose to more than 62% of its 944 million adults and two doses to about 21%, aiming to have at least one dose for almost all adults by the first half of next month.

The country has over 33.38 million coronavirus cases and 444,248 deaths.

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