Race to Become 'World Leader in Vaccination' Heats Up as India Preps for Jan 16 Mass Inoculation Drive

Rajiv Kumar
·4-min read

While India is set to launch world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination drive starting January 16, there are few other countries which are already leading the race in vaccinating their population.

Overall, till January 12, 29.42 million people globally received at least one jab of the vaccine, according to data compiled by the University of Oxford.

Israel with a little over 9 million population started vaccinating its citizens from December 19 last year. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was first to receive the jab at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv thereby commencing operation “Give a Shoulder”. Exactly three weeks later, last Saturday, he again became the first Israeli to get the second and final dose of the vaccine.

With snap polls due in March this year, Prime Minister Netanyahu secured deals with both Pfizer and Moderna. According to news reports, the country is paying average of $47 per person for vaccines.

Till January 12 morning, over 1.87 million people have received at least one of the two doses of the vaccine, at an average daily rate of over 85 thousand jabs. With over 22% of the Israeli population already receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, the country has outraced every other nation in immunization race, according to data compiled by the University of Oxford.

Further, the country has decided to vaccinate each and every person aged 50 or above beginning Wednesday besides the frontline health workers. The target, according to Israel’s health ministry is to inoculate at last 5.2 million population by the end of the March this year.

However, Netanyahu sounded more optimistic few days back when he said that Israel “will be the first country to emerge from the coronavirus” and that the country may “vaccinate all Israeli citizens over the age of 16 by the end of March, and perhaps even before that.”

According to news reports which quoted Israel’s health ministry, of the 6.5 lakh people who received the first vaccine dose till December 30, just 652 or 1 in 1,000 reported minor side effects.

On December 9 last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the first country to approve a vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned Sinopharm. Days later on December 14, it launched nationwide immunization programme from capital Abu Dhabi. Further, the city of Dubai launched its own vaccination programme using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. As of today the country has over 150 health centres administering vaccines to elderly and frontliners. Moreover, the oil rich kingdom now plans to vaccinate its older population at their homes.

According to country’s vaccination dashboard over 1.27 million vaccine doses have been administered to Emiratis till January 12, 2020 i.e. 12.90% of the country’s population has received at least one dose till date. The Middle East kingdom plans to vaccinate 50% of its population by first quarter of this year.

Britain, under a national lockdown currently, was first western country to launch mass inoculation drive on December 8, 2020. A 90-year-old grandmother, Margaret Keenan became country’s first person to receive non-trial recipients of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.

Till Monday, 11 January, 2021 over 2.43 million people have received first dose of the vaccine while 0.41 million have received the second dose as well. This makes five per cent of the country’s population vaccinated by at least one of two doses.

The country, so far, has approved three vaccine candidates including Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford University–AstraZeneca and the one made by Moderna. The aim is to inoculate 15 million vulnerable population by mid-February.

The United States continues to record over 200,000 daily new cases of coronavirus infection and over 4,000 deaths. However, country’s vaccination drive is also slowly picking pace. The inoculation roll out that began on 14 December, 2020 has jabbed 9 million or around three per cent Americans with at least one of two doses till Monday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so far has approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccine for the country with an aim to jab 100 million people by April, 2021.

Other major countries which have already started vaccination drive includes China - 9 million vaccinated till January 9; Italy – 0.8 million jabs given till January 12, 2021; Russia – 0.8 million shots, Germany 0.69 million, Spain 0.48 million shots.