India says it has become the “fastest country in the world” to administer more than 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, amid a deadly second wave of infections.
It achieved the feat in 85 days, whereas the US took 89 days and China 102 days, the health ministry said.
But the country reported a record daily increase of over 150,000 cases – and more than 800 new deaths – on Sunday.
And there are reports the vast vaccination drive itself is struggling.
This week, half a dozen states reported a shortage of doses even as the federal government insisted that it had 40 million doses in stock and that the “allegations” of vaccine scarcity were “utterly baseless”.
The inoculation drive aims to cover 250 million people by July, but experts say the pace needs to pick up further to meet the target.
Everyone aged over 45 is now eligible for jabs at vaccination centres and hospitals. Most doses have so far been given to frontline workers and the over-60s.
The third phase – which began on 1 April – opened amid a sharp uptick in Covid-19 cases. India has been reporting an average of more than 90,000 cases every day since then.
On 4 April, India became the second country after the US to report 100,000 new cases in a single day. More than half of those were confirmed in Maharashtra, which has India’s largest city Mumbai as its capital.
India’s caseload had dropped sharply by the time it began vaccinating people early this year. It was adding under 15,000 infections daily. But cases began to spike again in March, largely driven by poor test-and-trace and lax safety protocols.
Experts say India’s second wave is being fuelled by people being less cautious – and mixed messaging by the government.
Since the pandemic began, India has confirmed more than 12 million cases and over 167,000 deaths. It’s the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections in the world after the United States and Brazil.