As the vaccination drive commenced in India on January 16, nearly 5,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been wasted, according to the data released by five states, with atleast one Tripura, which has recorded losses over 10 per cent threshold issued by the government which is unavoidable given the scale of the vaccination drive.
The reason for the wastage is the vaccinators not receiving enough beneficiaries post opening the vials, which needs to be utilized in a period of four hours. The problem is particularly challenging to avoid as the two vaccines which have been granted the approval come in a vials comprising of 10 or 20 doses.
Dr Kallol Roy, Tripura’s immunisation officer, “So far, 1,623 or 11% of the total vaccine doses were wasted as many beneficiaries were not available during vaccination and droplets fall while shifting it to syringes. Another thing is that we need to use one vial within four hours after which it is of no use.”
The authorities have addressed the issue of wastage and also urged for people not scheduled on a particular day to turn up, but, starting January 16, from the 100 assigned, only 55 have shown up to be vaccinated amid every session. The count for Thursday was 49 from every 100 allotted for the 500,000 vaccinations that happened.
On Thursday, when Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan was questioned regarding the wastage happening pertaining to Covid-19 vaccines, he said, “When we started the Covid-19 vaccination programme, we had factored in a 10% wastage across the country. We have issued very detailed guidelines to the states and UTs about how to avoid wastage of vaccines. We have made our digital platform more flexible and we have permitted that apart from the scheduled hundred people, the person who is handling the vaccination session at a particular site can add additional people as long as they are part of the database.”
Bhushan added that the precise count will be released after an intricate analysis by the Ministry.
The count of losses stands on 1,200 doses in Punjab, as revealed by Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, state’s nodal officer of Covid-19. Though Bhaskar iterated the final count was quite below the allowed limit of 10 per cent. He said, “As one vial of the Covishield contains 10 doses, vaccinators have been asked try to give shots of vaccine when there are ten receivers together.” Punjab has vaccination drive for four days a week, and no shots were administered on Wednesday.
The state of Bihar also had the wastage limit within 10 per cent as mentioned by the health officers. However, the wastage was more pertaining to Covaxin over Covishield citing larger vial size.
Regarding Patna’s Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH), accounting for around 25 % loss in the previous week, where there is less wastage now. Dr Binod Kumar, Hospital Superintendent said, “In case of Covaxin, it is difficult to mobilise 20 health care workers at a time, given that hospital functioning should not be interrupted.” For Uttarakhand, Dr Kuldeep Singh Martoliya, the immunization officer revealed that 4.1 per cent doses accounting to a count of 14,500 got wasted. Odisha has experienced loss of 0.58 per cent or 1,125 doses from the 194,048 vaccines administered, revealed the director of family welfare.
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