New Delhi: India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive achieved another milestone when the cumulative vaccination coverage crossed the 100 crore mark on Thursday. A total of 100 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far to eligible beneficiaries, as per the Cowin portal at 9:47 am today.
The feat was achieved in over 10 months of the starting of India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16. At the time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it “a decisive turning point” in India’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the journey of the COVID-19 vaccine in India started soon after the first case of viral infection was reported in December 2019 in China’s Wuhan.
By March 2020, the world witnessed the collapse of numerous industries, closure of international and local borders, and disrupted global supply chain, after some of the biggest economies in the world were forced to go into lockdown. Researchers worldwide raced against time to develop a vaccine against the deadly virus that was claiming the lives of millions across the globe.
As per a report of the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, as of December 2020, there were more than 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the development stage across the world, of which, at least 52 candidates were undergoing human trials.
To inoculate the country’s huge population of some 300 million people, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave the green light to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine–Covishield (manufactured under licence by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (India’s indigenous vaccine developed locally by Bharat Biotech), on January 3.
In phase 1 of the vaccination drive which was launched on January 16, all health care and frontline workers were eligible to take jabs.
On March 1, the next phase of the inoculation programme started, making the population over 60 years, and those above 45-years of age with co-morbidities eligible for vaccination. The programme was extended to all above 45 years of age on April 1.
On April 13, the DCGI also approved the use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine (manufactured under license by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories).
The national immunisation programme against the COVID-19 vaccine was expanded for the entire adult population, that is everyone above the age of 18 on May 1.
With this, India became one of the first countries in the world to allow all adults to seek a vaccine.
Since then, India has also granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to three other vaccines by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Zydus Cadila.
On October 12, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the drug regulator also recommended granting an emergency use authorization to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children aged between 2-18 years as well.
The latest addition in India’s vaccines basket is Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D. The Ahmedabad-based pharma company announced has received EUA from DCGI for the country’s second indigenous vaccine, and the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine–ZyCoV-D on August 20.