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'We Rank Last': India's Congress Party Blasts PM Modi for Celebrating Delivery of 1 Bln Vaccine Jabs

© REUTERS / ADNAN ABIDIFILE PHOTO: Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan holds a dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, during a vaccination campaign at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi, India, January 16, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi//File Photo/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan holds a dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, during a vaccination campaign at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi, India, January 16, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi//File Photo/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.10.2021
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India’s government-backed vaccination programme has largely been powered by two vaccines – Covishield (developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (a domestically-developed jab yet to be approved by WHO). Throughout September, India was administering an average of 7.9 million vaccine doses daily.
India's main opposition Congress party has launched a scathing political attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for celebrating the one billionth vaccine administered in India, claiming that the country's fight against COVID is far from over.

"There are only two countries in the world with a population of over a billion people (India and China). India came second in the race. It’s like having two students in a class. Despite ranking second, you celebrate," Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera said in a video message on Friday.

“Does the prime minister have the guts to look the families of those people who succumbed to COVID in the eye?” Khera questioned.
At the peak of its crippling second COVID wave in April and May this year, India was reporting between 300,000 and 400,000 COVID cases each day. However, recently on 18 October, the 1.3 billion-strong nation reported just 18,000 daily infections, its lowest in 231 days.
Despite this, Indian officials have expressed fears about a possible third wave, warning the public against dropping their guard during the ongoing festive season.
3D-printed small toy figurines, a syringe and vial labelled coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are seen in front of India flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.10.2021
India Hails 'Historic' One Billion Covid Vaccination Milestone in Nine Months
Khera’s colleague Randeep Singh Surjewala, a general secretary in the Congress party, pointed out that 320 million Indian adults are still yet to receive a single vaccine dose.

“Overall, nearly 620 million Indians, including 300 million people under 18 years of age, haven’t received a single vaccine dose. What about them?” Surjewala asked in a tweet. Nearly 30 percent of India’s adult population is fully vaccinated to date, compared to around 57 percent in the US and 67 percent in the UK.

He further questioned the government’s commitment in administering the second vaccine dose to nearly 420 million Indian adults who have received their first jab.
The political offensive by the Congress party comes minutes after PM Modi addressed the public virtually to celebrate administering the billionth jab.
According to the federal Health Ministry, India hit the one billion mark vaccine on 21 October. On the same day, India’s junior Health Minister Bharati Pravin Pawar reiterated the government’s pledge to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of 2021.

“Questions were raised on India’s capability to fight the biggest pandemic in over a 100 years till recently. Everyone used to ask how India would be able to vaccinate its entire population… There were various questions… But, today, we have been able to answer every question,” Prime Minister Modi said in his address on Friday.

Modi also described the one billion vaccine landmark as a “new chapter” in the history of the country, as he lauded the country’s vaccination programme for being “science-born, science-driven, and science-based”.
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