In the wake of many states facing COVID-19 vaccine shortage, an RTI (Right to Information) reply has uncovered a colossal waste of doses since India started its mass vaccination programme in January this year.
Tamil Nadu topped the list with the highest wastage at 12.10%, followed by Haryana (9.74%), Punjab (8.12%), Manipur (7.8%), and Telangana (7.55%). More than 44 lakh vaccine doses were squandered out of 10 crore doses used by states till April 11, as disclosed by an RTI reply, NDTV reported.
States like Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, and West Bengal wasted the least vaccine jabs.
There was "zero wastage" of COVID-19 vaccine doses, according to the RTI reply. Accusations of vaccine shortage have spawned a political slugfest between the Centre and states such as Delhi, Maharashtra, and Punjab, which claim that their vaccine allocation is less in proportion to the populace compared to, say, in Gujarat.
In order to boost doses, the Centre recently accelerated approval for COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted nod in other countries.
The government has approved a payment of about Rs 4,500 crore in advance to vaccine makers like Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech against future supplies.
A source close to the development told BusinessToday.In that a bulk vaccine supply worth Rs 3,000 crore has been lined up from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which is currently manufacturing the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.
A similar captive supply worth Rs 1,500 crore will be arranged with Bharat Biotech for the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine - Covaxin. The Centre will make pre-payments to both companies for the vaccine supply.
Several states have sent out vaccine SOS to the Centre but it has stated that it is more about waste and mismanagement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Health Ministry have in the past asked states to minimise vaccine wastage. The health ministry also stated that the allocation will hinge up on the states' performance.
"The government of India from its share will allocate vaccines to states and UTs based on the criteria of the extent of infection (number of active COVID cases) and performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, the state-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the states adequately in advance," the ministry said on April 19.