India's COVID vaccinations hit 2 billion, new cases at four-month high

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Indian government's COVID-19 vaccinations hit 2 billion on Sunday, with booster doses underway for all adults, as daily infections hit four-month high, official data showed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extolled the vaccination milestone, celebrating the world's largest and longest-running inoculation campaign, which began last year.

"India creates history again!" Modi said in a tweet. The prime minister has faced allegations from the opposition of mishandling the pandemic that experts claim killed millions. The government rejects the claims.

Health ministry data shows the COVID death toll at 525,709, with 49 deaths recorded overnight.

New cases rose 20,528 over the past 24 hours, the highest since Feb. 20, according to data compiled by Reuters.

The country of 1.35 billion people has lifted most COVID-related restrictions, and international travel has recovered robustly.

Some 80% of the inoculations have been the AstraZeneca vaccine made domestically, called Covishield. Others include domestically developed Covaxin and Corbevax, and Russia's Sputnik V.

The federal government has been accelerating its booster campaign to avert the spread of infections, edging higher in the eastern states of Assam, West Bengal and Karnataka in the south.

(Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Rupam Jain and William Mallard)

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