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Coronavirus news live: India administers billionth vaccine dose,, Singapore at risk of being ‘overwhelmed’ amid record deaths


India has administered its one billionth Covid-19 vaccine dose, a key milestone for a country hoping to have all 944 million adults fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

India had a faltering and mismanaged start to its Covid vaccination rollout nine months ago, with severe shortages of shots nationwide and an export ban imposed on covid vaccines made in India to cope with the shortfall. However, in recent months, stocks have gone up and the take-up of the vaccine began to ramp up significantly. Vaccine hesitancy, an impediment in many rural areas, has also diminished. The country is now administering an average of five million shots per day, though at its peak, as part of a vaccine push on prime minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, 25 million were given in one day in September. Eight states have now administered a first dose to 100% of adults.

India is the second country after China to administer a billion shots of the covid vaccine. The government hailed what it described as their “vaccine century”.

“Gratitude to our doctors, nurses and all those who worked to achieve this feat,” tweeted prime minister Narendra Modi.

However, Indian health officials warned there was still a way to go in terms of getting the whole country inoculated. Though the first dose of the vaccine has been given to 75% of adults, there are still millions who have not had a shot, and only 30% of the country is fully vaccinated.

The majority of Indians have been vaccinated with Astrazeneca, which is produced in India under the name Covishield but another Indian-made vaccine, produced by domestic pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech, has also been rolled out. However, Bharat Biotech’s vaccine does not have emergency approval from the World Heath organisation (WHO) and this week the WHO said they were seeking more information before being able to give it the green light.

As well as the government’s end of year deadline for complete vaccination, the country is also racing to vaccinate as many people before the predicted third wave of the virus hits the country. The second wave, which devastated India in April, brought the healthcare system to its knees and led to shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines. The official death toll from Covid in India is 452,000 but there has been evidence of widespread undercounting and the true figure has been calculated to be up to four million.



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