Up to 6.5 per cent of Covid-19 vaccines was wasted in India until March 17, according to the health ministry data. Over 4.4 million doses — more than the population of Tripura — were wasted until April 11, according to a recent NDTV report based on Right to Information (RTI) queries. By April 11, states and Union Territories had used 100 million doses, the report said, leading to a wastage rate of 4.4 per cent.
In the initial phase of the vaccination drive, the news of serious adverse events had worried people. With beneficiaries registering and then not turning up for the vaccine, vials were being discarded to avoid transporting them back to the cold chain, said P J Srinivas, joint secretary (south zone) of the Indian Public Health Association, a public health policy organisation. There were also cases of inexperienced vaccinators drawing more than required from vials, leading to wastage, he added.
As of March 17, the government data showed, Telangana reported the highest vaccine wastage rate (17.6 per cent), followed by Andhra Pradesh (11.6 per cent), and Uttar Pradesh (9.4 per cent). A month later, the NDTV report said Tamil Nadu reported the highest wastage (12 per cent), followed by Haryana (9.7 per cent), Punjab (8.1 per cent), Manipur (7.8 per cent), and Telangana (7.6 per cent).
States and UTs that reported “zero wastage” were Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Goa, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep, according to the NDTV report. However, the government’s vaccine operational guidelines have factored in an allowable wastage of 10 per cent.
Wastage will be a criterion when the Centre starts allocating vaccines as per its new, liberalised Covid-19 immunisation strategy starting May 1.
Source: IndiaSpend, NDTV, RTI reply