Asia - Pacific, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

66% of adults in India receive 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Health Ministry says country discussing with UK to resolve quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Indians

Ahmad Adil   | 23.09.2021
66% of adults in India receive 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine

NEW DELHI

India has vaccinated 66% of its adult population with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Rajesh Bhushan, a top ministry official, told a press briefing in New Delhi that "66% of the adult population of the country has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly, 23% of 18+ population have received two doses of vaccine"

Bhushan added: "It is possible because some states have done good work."

India continues to witness the second wave of the pandemic. On Thursday morning, the ministry said 31,923 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, taking the total infections to 33.5 million.

Bhushan said the second surge in the country has not ended. "We are still in the midst of the second surge, while we may be witnessing a decline. ... COVID-19 behavior has to be maintained at all times," he added.

He noted that 62.73% of the total cases in the last week have been reported from the southern Kerala state, which continues to see a large number of new cases despite strict measures in place.

The ministry also announced that those with restricted mobility or special needs will be administered vaccine doses at their homes under proper supervision.

"This is an important development," said Dr. Vinod Paul, a member of the government's main policy think-tank National Institute for Transforming India Aayog.

The ministry officials also said discussions are going on to resolve the controversy over the UK government rules of a strict quarantine for Indian travelers fully vaccinated with Covishield -- developed originally by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and locally manufactured by Serum Institute of India.

"... we believe that the dispensation that is proposed to be implemented from Oct. 4 is a discriminatory practice. Both sides are in a dialogue and we believe that a quick resolution will be found," said Bhushan during the briefing, referring to the UK travel rules starting from Oct. 4.

He added: "We do reserve the right to reciprocate in a similar manner."

Earlier in the day, British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis said that "excellent technical discussions" were held with Indian officials on the vaccine certification process.

"Neither side raised technical concerns with each other’s certification process. An important step forward in our joint aim to facilitate travel and fully protect the public health of UK and India," Ellis wrote on Twitter.

A controversy recently erupted after the non-recognition of the Covishield vaccine by the UK. As Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar raised the matter with his counterpart, the UK updated its travel guidance, qualifying the vaccine as an approved one. But the issue continues as fully vaccinated Indians still have to go under quarantine in the UK because of "vaccination certification issues."

India on Tuesday warned of "reciprocal measures" and said non-recognition of the Covishield is a "discriminatory policy."

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