The Centre has asked states to encourage optimum utilisation of coronavirus vaccines and significantly curtail squandering after India witnessed a vaccine wastage of 6.5%, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Wednesday, March 17.
The communication came after several states registered higher levels of wastage than the national average. Andhra Pradesh is losing 11.6% of vaccines, Uttar Pradesh 9.4%, and Telangana 17.5%.
Addressing a press conference, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said 3.51 crore vaccine doses have been administered till now in the country, which include 1.38 crore beneficiaries aged 45-60 years with specific co-morbidities and those above 60 years who have been given the first dose.
On March 15, 8.34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered worldwide, of which India alone administered 36 per cent of doses, he said. Bhushan said COVID-19 vaccine wastage in five states - Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Jammu and Kashmir - is higher than 6.5 per cent, which is the national average.
The Centre has made available 75 million shots of coronavirus vaccines so far across all states, as per the health ministry.
"The message we have shared with states is that vaccines are invaluable commodities. They are public health goods and therefore vaccines have to be optimally utilised. Vaccine wastage has to be drastically reduced. Any reduction in wastage means that you end up inoculating more people and therefore the chances of disrupting the chain of infection grow that much more," Bhushan said.
Meanwhile, some states which are achieving better results with the management of their vaccine supply comprise Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, with less than 2% of jabs going to waste. Regarding widening the dosage interval from four to eight weeks for the Covishield vaccine, NITI Aayog member VK Paul said the interim advice of the national technical advisory group on vaccination is that there is no change.
As of 9 am on March 17, India had administered 35.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, out of which 13.8 million were given to people above 60 and 45 years of age with comorbidities.