India recorded 18,454 new coronavirus cases on Thursday morning, which took the total number of cases in the country to 3,41,27,450 since the pandemic began in January last year. The number of new cases was 26.19 % higher than Wednesday’s count of 14,623.

India’s toll rose to 4,52,811 as it recorded 160 more deaths in the last 24 hours. The number of active cases in India was 1,78,831 on Thursday morning. The tally of recoveries stood at 3,34,95,808.

The number of vaccine doses administered in India hit 100 crore on Thursday, the health ministry said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the country on the milestone.

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

The prime minister said at an event that India now has a protective shield to battle the biggest pandemic in 100 years, PTI reported.

The government will celebrate the milestone at the Red Fort in Delhi on Thursday afternoon.

VK Paul, the chief of India’s Covid-19 task force, said: “It is remarkable to reach 1 billion dose mark for any nation, an achievement in just over 9 months since the vaccination program started in India.”

World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also celebrated India’s milestone. “Congratulations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the scientists, health workers and people of India, on your efforts to protect the vulnerable populations from Covid-19 and achieve vaccine equity targets,” he said.

A day before the celebrations in India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had pointed out that only 21% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.

World updates

Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 24 crore people and caused more than 49 lakh deaths since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that the coronavirus pandemic could “easily drag on deep into 2022” as poorer countries of the world are not receiving the required vaccines, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, the United States approved vaccine booster shots developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Americans have also been allowed to a get a booster shot different from their initial vaccine.