India scripts history, says Modi on country achieving 1 billion Covid vaccine dose landmark; Africa next vaccination target, says Serum Institute of India chief

India has scripted history, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as the cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the 1 billion milestone

Oct 21, 2021
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Adar Poonawalla, the chief of Covishield manufacturer Serum Institute of India

India has scripted history, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as the cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the 1 billion milestone. He called the vaccination milestone a triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of 1.3 billion Indians.

“India scripts history. We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of 130 crore Indians. Congrats India on crossing 100 crore vaccinations. Gratitude to our doctors, nurses and all those who worked to achieve this feat,” PM Modi tweeted.

He also visited the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, where he congratulated ealthcare workers as well as with people receiving the Covid vaccine.

Modi said that the country now has a strong “protective shield” of 100 crore (1 billion) vaccine doses to combat the biggest pandemic in 100 years.

“This day of October 21, 2021, has been recorded in history. India has crossed the 100 crore vaccine doses mark sometime back,” he declared.

He also hailed all the vaccine manufacturing companies of the country, workers engaged in vaccine transportation and health sector professionals engaged in administering the vaccines, PTI news agency said.

Meanwhile, Adar Poonawalla, the chief of Covishield manufacturer Serum Institute of India, said the billionth dose of coronavirus vaccine was a milestone for India and over the next two months, the country will catch up further. There is even a possibility of a booster shot for those who need it -- there will be enough doses, he added. 

Poonawalla, however, said "ethically and humanely, our outlook will be to vaccinate the world, especially Africa, with both doses of the vaccine first".

"We can't have all of Africa with only 3 per cent people vaccinated while here we all start taking booster shots after 2 doses," Adar Poonawalla told NDTV in an interview.

"That being said, of course we will have more than enough doses available for a booster shot for the elderly and those who need it. For the healthy and young population, we can wait for a year or so before considering a booster dose and first ensure that the rest of humanity gets two doses," he added.

For now, with the production numbers rising at a current pace, the number of people who have received both doses, will go up by the year-end, he said.

"If we look at the production numbers rising at the pace at which it is currently, I don't want to make a prediction here, but I can say with a degree of certainty that a lot of remaining population which currently has taken the first dose will by the end of the year have taken both doses.

So, this "25 per cent of the total population figure will definitely rise at an increasing pace," Poonawalla said.

The country reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccination milestone this morning. The government said it wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year.

The credit of this, Mr Poonawalla said, belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for whom the country's huge population was the biggest challenge.

"No other world leader had such a huge population to deal with, coupled with the demographics and cultural differences that exists in India," he said.

 "Even though 100 crore vaccine jabs is a big milestone, but we must keep telling people not to let their guard down and those eligible for it to take the vaccine," Poonawalla told NDTV.

 "God forbid, if we should see a third wave - though it will perhaps not be as severe as the second wave because we have a far better medical infrastructure, increased facilities, much better emergency infrastructure now as well as a significantly larger population having taken the vaccine," he added.