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The numbers behind India’s billion dose landmark

India's billion dose vaccination statistics mean that the country will likely not see a third wave of infections according to experts. But India’s high population (1.3 billion) mean that the country’s vaccine drive still has some distance to cover.
The 1 billion Covic vaccine dose count has come along with coverage of 75% adults with at least one dose.(HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 22, 2021 03:03 PM IST
ByAbhishek Jha

India administered its billionth dose of Covid-19 vaccines early on Thursday, the only country other than China (2.2 billion doses administered) to cross the milestone. India’s adult population (the only ones eligible for vaccines right now) is estimated at 940.2 million, and this milestone in absolute numbers is a milestone in coverage too. As of 5pm, around 76% of adults in the country had received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccine. And around 31% have been fully vaccinated.

Seen in the context of the last national sero-prevalence survey (these test for antibodies) that showed that almost two-thirds of the population had been exposed to Covid-19, and the current low daily case numbers, the vaccination statistics mean that India will likely not see a third wave of infections according to experts.

But India’s high population (1.3 billion) mean that the country’s vaccine drive still has some distance to cover.

Half the districts have covered 75% of their population with at least one dose

The 1 billion dose count has come along with coverage of 75% adults with at least one dose. At the district-level, a little over half the districts – 345 of 628 districts of 2011 census with all of Delhi’s and Mumbai ‘s districts taken together – have reached this level of coverage. The top five districts in terms of coverage of first doses are Diu, Kolkata in West Bengal, Gurgaon in Haryana, Solan in Himachal Pradesh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The first dose coverage in these districts is the complete adult population as estimated through the number of electors.

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Another 261 districts have given at least one dose to 50%-75% of their population. Only 22 districts have vaccinated less than 50% of their population. 16 of these 22 districts are in the north-eastern states (nine in Nagaland alone) and the other six are in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Himachal has administered twice the number of doses per hundred adults as Jharkhand

There are significant variations with India. Himachal Pradesh has administered at least one dose to all adults while Jharkand has covered only 58.6% of its adults. In the share of fully vaccinated adults, Himachal Pradesh (57% adults fully vaccinated) is three times ahead of Uttar Pradesh, which has fully vaccinated the least (19%). But again, the populations of the two states are in entirely different ranges. Himachal has an adult population of 5.5 million, Uttar Pradesh, 147.4 million.

Inter-district disparity still high but lower than earlier

National and state-level projections for 2021 population are available from the National Commission on Population. There is no such projection at the district-level. HT has therefore used number of electors at the time of the 2019 Lok Sabha election as a proxy for adult population at the district-level. Diu has administered at least one dose of vaccine to 222% of its adult population as estimated by the number of electors and both doses to 145%. This could be because of people from other districts getting vaccinated in Diu apart from a change in population or low registration of adults as electors. In contrast, Senapati in Manipur, the worst-performing district has administered at least one dose to only 24.6% of its population and both doses to 11.9%. 

Such individual comparisons can, however, be misleading because these districts are outliers. A better way to check inter-district disparity is by classifying districts into quartiles (bottom 25% to top 25%) for each day of vaccination. This shows that the top 25% districts have given twice the number of doses per hundred adults as the bottom 25% districts. This disparity is, however, much lower than earlier. At the end of January, the top 25% districts had given 5 times the number of doses per 100 adults as the bottom 25% districts. Even on May 1, when vaccination was opened up for all adults, this ratio was 3.8. the gap is clearly narrowing.

India’s 1.3 billion population poses a challenge....

Global vaccination data is available up to different dates for different countries. Taking the latest data for each country, India was second in the world in administering Covid-19 vaccines in absolute numbers. In terms of proportion of total population that has received at least one dose of the vaccine, India, with 52% coverage (overall population) ranks 101.

On top of the list are two British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar and Pitcairn Islands, with full coverage, but the population of the former is only about 34,000 that of the latter is less than 50 people. The United Arab Emirates, with 96% coverage, comes next but it also has a population of only 10 million. Among bigger countries or those with a population of 100 million or more, India is ranked 5th among 12 countries for which this data is available. Japan has covered the highest share of its population with at least one dose among these — 76%.

 

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