India is set to complete 1 billion doses of COVID vaccine on Thursday, nine months after the vaccination drive started in the country. According to sources, around 99.4 crore doses have been administered as of Wednesday and the government has also planned festivities for a great achievement.
Sources said party leaders have been asked to visit vaccination centers; party chief JP Nadda will be in Ghaziabad in UP, which votes early next year, for the occasion, while General Secretaries Arun Singh and Dushyant Gautam will be in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore and Lucknow, respectively.
The government had also planned to make announcements over loudspeakers on trains, planes, and ships, and hoist the national flag at the Red Fort in Delhi to mark the billionth shot.
Only one other country has administered over a billion vaccine doses – China (crossed 1 billion doses in June), which is also the only other country to have a population of more than one billion.
The Centre administered 2.5 crore doses in a day last month to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 71st birthday.
The administering of one billion vaccine doses – given the unknown and unpredictable nature of the coronavirus, the scale and intensity of the pandemic, and the challenges surrounding manufacturing, distribution, and delivery – represents a significant effort on the part of the government.
However, celebrations around that landmark ought not to hide a possible red flag – the discrepancy between the number of fully vaccinated individuals and those with just one shot.
Only an estimated 20 per cent of the country's 1.4 billion people have received both shots.