The Narendra Modi government says this is the world’s largest and fastest vaccination drive — a billion doses in nine months flat. The quantum is, in fact, larger than many continents, including Europe, which has administered 830 million jabs, and North America, which has done about 660 million. India’s numbers are over two times that of the US.
For the BJP, this is a major ace up its sleeve ahead of the crucial state elections, including in Uttar Pradesh, early next year. The party is not leaving it unsaid that the entire credit for the ‘1 billion jabs’ feat goes to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his big decision taken four months ago of Centre taking back full control of the vaccination drive from the states that were floundering. Average doses given daily after June 21 rose to 60 lakh from just 18 lakh earlier, as per the data.
The vaccination drive has been especially pushed in poll-bound and BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa, with UP giving the maximum 12 crore-plus jabs so far and Uttarakhand and Goa completing 100% coverage of the first dose.
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. #VaccineCentury
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 21, 2021
Going into the campaign, the BJP is already impressing upon voters that it is the Modi government which ensured that everyone gets vaccinated free-of-cost.
The Centre will push that the speed of vaccination increased while the Opposition kept criticising the government on this count. Like the first 10 crore doses took 85 days while the last 10 crore doses took just 19 days. Also, 75% of the eligible population has taken the first dose, eight states and UTs have achieved 100% first dose coverage and four other states and UTs have achieved more than 90% coverage of the first dose. India is vaccinating an average of 35 lakh people daily since the inception of the campaign, while the US does 13 lakh and Japan does 7 lakh.
The Opposition, however, remains sceptical on whether the government will be able to meet its year-end target of inoculating all 94 crore adults with both doses of the vaccine amidst the vaccination drive slowing down this month. Opposition leaders will continue to question the government about its intent to fulfil the assurance to the Supreme Court that all adults will be double-vaccinated by December 1 as 88 crore doses are still to be given with 80 days left.
Government officials, however, say the Centre will ensure that 188 crore doses in all “are available” by the year-end and double-dose vaccination of all adults will remain work in progress in 2022 as vaccination is voluntary, and most big countries have not been able to cross 80-85% vaccination saturation as some people will not take the vaccine despite all efforts of the government.
“The fact remains that opposition leaders have made little effort to promote the vaccination drive. The Gandhis did not even put out their pictures taking the vaccine while Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh said he will not take the vaccine till everyone else in the state is vaccinated,” a BJP leader said.