India gives record 22m jabs for PM's birthday

A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the coronavirus at a civil hospital in Amritsar. AFP/Narinder Nanu

MUMBAI - India on Friday made a record 22 million coronavirus jabs in a day as part of a special vaccination drive for the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Authorities set up special vaccination centres in stadiums, shopping malls, clinics and other venues as it sought to boost the lagging campaign to inoculate 1.1 billion people by the end of the year.

The previous daily best was 14 million in August.

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Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said "it's a gift from the health workers and citizens to the prime minister" as more than 20 million daily jabs were reached for the first time on Modi's 71st birthday.

Modi tweeted that all Indians should be "proud" of the record.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, normally inoculates about 1.5 million people a day.

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Launched in January, the vaccination campaign was slow to take off because of shortages and hesitancy among the population.

It has picked up in recent weeks, reaching between five million and eight million on average each day.

About 788 million vaccine doses have now been given, but the number of eligible people with two doses is still below 20 percent. 

The government was particularly stung by criticism after a brutal coronavirus wave in April and May killed more than 200,000 people.


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