India administered more than 78.8 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, taking the vaccination count beyond 123.25 crore, according to the Union Health Ministry update on November 30.
On the 317th day of the nationwide vaccination drive, over 24.18 lakh people received their first shot and 54.62 lakh their second dose.
The vaccination drive accelerated over the past few weeks. It took the country 85 days to give the first 10 crore doses, the next 10 crore took 45 days and, in another 29 days, India touched the 30-crore mark.
In the following 24 days, the count reached 40 crore and crossed the 50-crore mark after 20 days on August 6. By September 13, 75 crore vaccine doses were given. The biggest jump, however, came on September 17, when more than 2.1 crore shots were given in one day.
On October 21, India scripted history with cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country surpassing the 100-crore milestone.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The government has revised the gap between the two doses for the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), to 12-16 weeks. However, the interval for the second dose of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin remains unchanged at four weeks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide vaccination drive on January 16, with healthcare workers at the frontline of India’s COVID-19 battle getting their first jabs. The next phase started on March 1 for people over 60 years and those aged 45 and above with specified comorbid conditions. From April 1, the drive was expanded to include all aged 45 and above. The government decided to expand the vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.
Some major developments related to COVID-19 vaccination:
- Uttar Pradesh has administered more than 16 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses so far, the state government said on November 29. In a tweet in Hindi, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, "Securing life and livelihood, Uttar Pradesh has become the first state in the country to provide a protective cover of more than 16 crore Covid vaccine (doses). This achievement is dedicated to the guidance of Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and hardwork of health workers." He also appealed to the people to take the "teekaa jeet kaa" (vaccine of victory).
- Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech said that it has commenced exports of COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, and long-pending export orders were executed in November.
- The developer of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine said that it will immediately start working on adapting that COVID-19 vaccine to counter the omicron variant. The Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled Sputnik V and its one-shot version Sputnik Light, said in a statement that the existing vaccine should be efficient against the new variant.
- The Omicron variant carries concerning mutations that may make it more transmissible and allow it to evade immunity, scientists said, stressing that the one certainty in the uncertainty of the many things unknown is this -- COVID is not a short-term crisis and vaccines are still a critical tool.
- The UK government on the day announced to expand its COVID-19 booster vaccination programme, accepting the updated advice from scientists to extend the offer of a third top-up vaccine dose to all adults over the age of 18 and also to halve the minimum gap between second and third doses from six to three months.
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