India has given more than 10 million COVID-19 vaccines in a single day for the first time, authorities said on Saturday, as the South Asian giant bolsters its defences for a predicted new surge.
The health ministry said the 10 million landmark was passed on Friday, beating the country’s previous daily record of 9.2 million. The government has been stung by criticism after a brutal coronavirus wave in April and May killed more than 200,000 people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the milestone as a “momentous feat” for the nation of 1.3 billion people.
“Kudos to those getting vaccinated and those making the vaccination drive a success,” he said on Twitter.
The government had aimed to vaccinate about 1.1 billion adults by the end of the year but shortages, administrative confusion and hesitancy have held back numbers. Only around 15 per cent have had two doses since the drive began in January.
India’s daily infection count has dropped dramatically since the devastating surge in April-May which overwhelmed its creaking health infrastructure.
Almost all restrictions on movement and activity have been lifted even though experts have warned of a new wave hitting as early as next month as the festival season starts.
Daily case numbers have started rising again above 40,000 and more than 500 deaths were reported on Saturday. The 46,000 new cases reported Saturday was the highest figure in two months. Much of the spike has been blamed on a surge in the southern state of Kerala.
India is currently administering three vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, known locally as Covishield, Covaxin by Indian firm Bharat Biotech and the Russian-made Sputnik V.
The country has so far recorded 437,370 deaths and more than 32 million infections, the second-highest in the world after the United States. Experts say that because of under-reporting, India’s true toll could be more than four times higher.