Since the nationwide vaccination drive started on January 16, around 5,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been unutilised in five states. Tripura pegged the vaccine wastage to be over 10 per cent limit.
According to Tripura's COVID-19 immunisation officer Dr Kallol Roy, 1,623 or 11 per cent of the total vaccine doses were wasted whereas in Punjab, the number of doses wasted stood at 1,200 doses, which is less than the 10 per cent limit. Health officials said the wastage of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin was much more than Serum Institute's Covishield due to the former's large vial size.
The vaccine wastage can be largely attributed to not enough volunteers turning up after the vaccine vials were opened, which need to be utilised in up to four hours. This downside is difficult to avoid since the two vaccines approved in India for administration -- Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- come in vials for 10 or 20 doses.
Besides this, the authorities concerned also said the wastage was due to the vaccinators calling in people who were not scheduled to get doses on a particular day to compensate for low attendance due to hesitancy.
Only about 55 people have turned up for every 100 people who were selected and invited for a dose during every session since the vaccination drive began.
"When we started the Covid-19 vaccination programme, we had factored in a 10 per cent wastage across the country. We have issued very detailed guidelines to the states and UTs about how to avoid wastage of vaccines," Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan told Hindustan Times.