The world’s biggest inoculation drive began in India on January 16 with two indigenously-manufactured Covid-19 vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. Even with exporting to needy nations and neighbouring regions, India managed to register more than 1 million vaccinations within the first six days of the mega drive, becoming the fastest country to do so. “India was the fastest country to reach 1 million Covid-19 vaccinations within six days. The United States achieved it in 10 days, Spain in 12 days, Israel in 14 days, the United Kingdom in 18 days, Italy in 19 days, Germany in 20 days and the United Arab Emirates in 27 days,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in New Delhi on Thursday.

India took only 6 days to roll out one million vaccine doses. This count is higher than countries like the US and the UK. The UK took 18 days whereas the USA took 10 days to reach the one million mark, the ministry highlighted. As many as 2.3 million beneficiaries have been vaccinated for Covid-19 in India. This is 0.1698 per cent of its population. A total of 16 hospitalisations and nine deaths have been reported so far. However, the health ministry has not linked any of the casualties with Covid vaccination.

“The UK variant strain is now present in 70 countries and we have identified 165 cases of it in India. We were able to find the first case of the UK variant on December 22-23. In a week’s time, we were able to collect blood from these patients and culture the strain,” Balram Bhargava, the Director-General of ICMR, said. Meanwhile, India’s COVID-19 tally of cases crossed 1.07 crore with 11,666 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, while the national recovery rate climbed to 96.94 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.