BEIJING: China on Sunday announced it had administered its one-billionth shot in the world’s biggest coronavirus inoculation drive.
The global death toll from Covid-19 is now more than 3.8 million and many nations are still battling outbreaks, but vaccine drives in some countries are allowing activities that were unthinkable a few months ago.
China’s vaccine milestone comes after the number of shots administered globally passed 2.5 billion on Friday, according to a count from official sources.
But the Asian giant’s vaccination efforts initially got off to a slow start after a successful fight against the virus left little sense of urgency to get jabbed.
A lack of transparency and previous vaccine scandals have also led to resistance among many residents.
Authorities have set an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.
Some provinces are offering vaccines for free to encourage people to roll up their sleeves. Residents in central Anhui province have been given free eggs, while some living in Beijing have received shopping coupons.
China’s success against the virus stands in stark contrast to Brazil, which on Saturday became the second nation after the United States to surpass half a million Covid-19 deaths.
In India, meanwhile, there were fears that people were not taking the Covid threat seriously enough, just a few weeks after crematoriums were operating around the clock dealing with virus victims.
Doctors are worried that India is letting its guard down again too early as shopping malls and markets buzz with customers once more.
One shopper at a New Delhi mall said she was “fed up being cooped up inside”. “I needed this break, for how long can you remain locked up?” sales executive Surili Gupta, 26, said.
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021