It took India just 281 days to administer. The pace at which the vaccinations were administered is unparalleled as it took India 32 years and 20 years to hit the 100-crore milestone for TB and polio immunisations, respectively. But how does this feat measure against other countries, where some of them had early access to vaccines?
In terms of absolute numbers, only India and China occupy the billion-doses club. And this won’t change as no other country has a population of similar size. According to Our World in Data’s vaccine tracker, India is at number two when it comes to the number of doses given. It is followed by the United States, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Germany, France, Russia, United Kingdom.
India, according to the government, has administered five times more doses than Japan, nine times more than Germany, and ten times more than France. While it took 85 days to administer the first 10 crore doses, it completed the last 10 crore in just 19 days. According to the Health Ministry, the average doses per day has improved to 60 lakh after June 21, when the Centre took over the vaccine procurement and supply. It was earlier 18 lakh per day. India, according to Covidvax.live, also has the highest speed of vaccination, administering 35 lakh doses per day, which is 22 lakh more than US and 28 lakh more than Japan.
But this dramatically changes when it is viewed against the percentage of the population covered. The United Arab Emirates leads the list of countries with 87.26 per cent of their population fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University’s vaccine tracker. It is closely followed by other smaller countries such as Portugal, Malta, Singapore and Spain, which have all fully vaccinated more than 80 per cent of their population. China is 13th on the list with 74.97 per cent, even though it has fully vaccinated over 100 crore people. While India is below its neighbours Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, with only 20.55 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
And as feared by health experts, the vaccine rollout is not equitably distributed around the world. Developed nations are vaccinating their populations far faster than less developed countries. Even countries like India, which didn’t rely on imports and have been developing their own vaccines, have hit huge supply bottlenecks. The divide is best explained looking at the African continent, where countries haven’t even touched double digits in terms of percentage of the population fully vaccinated. South Sudan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Uganda haven’t fully vaccinated even one per cent of their population.
In comparison,there is greater equity in access to vaccine jabs in the rural parts of the country, with more than 65 per cent of the total vaccinations being done only in these areas.