I write to commend, compliment, extol, and congratulate the government of India on reaching the record milestone of administering over one billion vaccines, an achievement reached on Thursday October 21 some nine months after it was rolled out in January. When one speaks of such a number of vaccinations prior to now, one was thinking of polio, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, etc. against which billions were “vaccinated” (administered the drop or the needle). And that was decades ago and certainly not for any one country but globally. No one in recent time ever thought of or could imagine a billion vaccines administered in one country but India achieved the milestone when just six months ago it was considered impossible. India has administered more vaccines than almost the entire globe combined.
In terms of Covid related stats, India conducted 600 million Covid tests on its 1.4B people and found 34,128,098 infections. There were 453,000 deaths or just about a quarter of one percent of the population. Some 98.5% of those infected have recovered from Covid. A few millions are still infected with Covid. There are over 300 M fully vaccinated in India or 37% of the population; 75% of adults got least one jab and some half of all adults are fully vaccinated.
The Indian stats contrasts sharply the US that leads the world in testing at 660 M, 45.2 M infections, 732K deaths, 410 M vaccinations (less than half of India’s), 190M or 58% of population fully vaccinated. In contrast with China, where the virus emerged and the world’s most populous country at 1.5B, China administered 223M doses with 100 M fully vaccinated. China claims it administered 16M tests and found 100K infections with 4700 deaths. Medical scholars consider the data suspect because of secrecy of governance. India’s vaccination feat is 10 times that of China, nine times that of Germany, ten times that of France, five times that of Japan, and more than double that of USA.
In India, the government celebrates the achievement. A 225 foot national flag is being flown in the country’s Red Fort marking the occasion. The Prime Minister, President, and other politicians have issued glorifying statements. Leaders of many countries sent congratulatory messages to the Indian government leadership.
The one billion mark of vaccination is a magnificent feat. It may take years, if not decades, for another country, nay an entire content, to attain that feat. India had a late start in vaccination roll out. And while it was vaccinating its people, India was also making vaccines available to several other countries including Guyana and Caricom nations. India provided some 70 countries with vaccines including developed and European nations. The developed countries kept their vaccines for themselves and only recently started making some (surplus) available to poor or developing countries. India (PM Modi) was criticized in the developed countries and even by prominent Guyanese and the international media for its handling of Covid in March and April when the country was devastated by Covid. Millions were infected during those two months and thousands died. Each state was responsible for its own Covid policy just like the USA but the PM was blamed for the states’ mishandling of Covid. Since then, the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) took charge of Covid policy and vaccination drive for the 28 states and several union territories. Vaccination in India as well as testing for Covid, as it is in the US and UK and several other countries, is free. Many countries charge for Covid testing.
India is celebrating “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” –freedom festival as a result of nectar from Covid vaccines.
The achievement of administering one billion vaccines is indeed a feat to be celebrated. May I thank the government of India for providing vaccines for so many poor people around the globe, including in Guyana which has been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of vaccines.