India’s daily Covid-19 vaccination figures showed a drop on Saturday, a day after the country set a record by administering 2.5 crore doses in a single day. Until 11.20 pm on Saturday, 85 lakh vaccine doses had been administered, data on the government’s CoWin portal showed.
Despite this, Saturday’s numbers were higher in comparison to the vaccination figures of the same day over the last three weeks.
Friday’s record vaccination numbers were the result of a Bharatiya Janata Party campaign to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.
At 11.20 pm on Friday, at least five BJP-ruled states had reported that they had administered over 20 lakh Covid-19 vaccine doses each.
Bihar had administered 29 lakh vaccine shots, Karnataka over 28 lakhs, Uttar Pradesh more than 27 lakhs, Madhya Pradesh close to 26 lakhs and Gujarat around 24 lakhs, according to the CoWin portal.
“Let’s do vaccine seva and give him [Narendra Modi] birthday gift by getting vaccinated those who have not taken the dose so far,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had tweeted on Friday morning.
On Saturday, these BJP-ruled states, too, saw a sharp fall in vaccinations. In Uttar Pradesh, nearly 6 lakhs shots were administered. In Gujarat, the figure was around 4 lakh, and Bihar and Karnataka administered around 2 lakh doses each.
This is not the first time India has witnessed a dive in vaccination numbers a day after high immunisation figures were recorded.
On June 21, India had administered more than 90 lakh Covid-19 vaccine doses, but only 54.22 lakh shots were given the next day.
A health department official told The Telegraph that Friday’s record count was possible as the government had set up around 1.09 lakh vaccination centres across the country, compared to 58,000 on Thursday. The official said such planning needs two weeks to execute.
“Such sharp increases do not happen overnight – they are planned with precision,” the official said. “The doses need to reach each vaccination centre; the staff have to be prepared; and in some places, people need to be mobilised for the day.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said he was looking forward to more surges in India’s vaccination drives in the coming days. “This pace is what our country needs,” Gandhi tweeted.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said that while Modi was trying to project India as the country that has been conducting the world’s largest vaccination programme, but the “truth, as always, is the opposite”.
He added: “Current rate of vaccinations cannot meet the year end deadline of fully vaccinating all our adults. Accelerate vaccinations.” The politician also tweeted a list showing India’s dropping position in terms of percentage of population that had been fully vaccinated.
The Centre had said in Parliament that India will vaccinate all adults by December.
The Delhi High Court, however, had expressed reservations about the Union government’s pledge, saying it was unlikely that the government would be able to achieve this feat.
So far, only 20.19% of India’s adult population of about 1 billion have been inoculated. As much as 60.12% have received the first shot, according to vaccination data available on the CoWin portal.
In total, India has administered over 80.31 crore shots since the vaccination drive began in January.
Meanwhile, India on Saturday registered 35,662 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the country’s overall tally of infections since the outbreak of the pandemic in January last year to 3,34,17,390. The new cases were 3.65% higher than Friday’s count of 34,403 infections.
The total number of deaths due to the coronavirus increased to 4,44,529, with 281 fatalities in the past 24 hours.